It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.
The Limousines were responsible for getting me out on this Monday night, having seen them just barely over two years ago when they were on tour with The Sounds. They blew my mind then, and since that night, I had eagerly been awaiting their return to Dallas.
They were on tour with a couple of bands, and the one opening this show was Dresses, who were from Portland, Oregon.
I didn’t see much of them, as they had already started by the time I got there, though I enjoyed what I heard.
Every band on this bill was very different than the others, and Dresses was no exception, mining more of an indie/pop/rock sound, with the main members being frontwoman Timothy Heller and lead guitarist Jared Ryan Maldonado, who even played a ukulele for a few songs. While she was the lead vocalist, he also sang on some songs, and the two even harmonized at times, their voices blending to create some beautiful textures.
It was all well crafted, with more subtle tones at times that served to accentuate the vocals and even the lyrics to the songs.
I just wish I had gotten to see more of them and get a better idea of what they’re like, though I did enjoy what I saw.
They do have a record available, “Sun Shy”, which is actually their debut album. Give it a listen, and it may well make you a fan.
Sandwiched in between the opener and the headliner was San Francisco’s own The Limousines, who wound up having quite the following out this night, some of their fans rushing to the front of the stage as soon as Dresses left to ensure they had a good spot, all the while beaming with glee about seeing this electronic act.
They brought with them a pretty professional looking setup, from a couple of scrims (one on each side of the stage) that had multi-colored lights shining from behind them throughout the show. They also had a cool looking “case” that stood in front of the unused drum kit and had the band’s name on it, with the letters looking like all sorts of old runes. The letters on that were also illuminated, switching through the color spectrum.
Aside from aesthetics, they had also grown a member since I first saw them, now being a trio with the addition of a multi-instrumentalist who often played bass this night, but also dabbled on the keys/synthesizers and electronic drums.
Oh yeah, they also had a smoke machine, which frontman Eric Victorino triggered before walking backstage. In such a small venue, the fog got pretty dense as it billowed out, helping create a mood before multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Giusti, Eric and the bass player made their way on stage.
Their long awaited second LP, “Hush”, was released earlier this year after a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, and they got their show going with the lead track and first single from it, “Love is a Dog from Hell”. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into the song that laments love lost, moving about and even doing a little bit of dancing to the track. They were only just getting started as they immediately fired up “Undercover”, the bass during that song being so heavy at times you could feel the floor vibrating, which is always a sure sign of a great show.
It didn’t take long after the music subsided and the applause dies down for one female fan to shout at Eric, “Have my babies!” “I don’t have time for babies. I’m too busy.” he said, politely turning down her request, but it wasn’t the last time she would make it this night.
“Haunted” was the first of a few songs that saw Giovanni and the other guy heavily using their electronic drums, while Eric moved his mic stand out of the way on that one, giving him a little more freedom as he paced around more, and got pretty passionate at times. “I’m haunted, I’m haunted by you…” he belted out on the chorus, dropping to his knees at one point, packing that and many other lines from the song to the brim with emotion. That simply made it all the more enjoyable for the audience, and after finishing it, he had a question for everyone. “Does Dallas, Texas know how to dance?!” They proved they did on the incredibly catchy “Fool’s Gold”, which somehow managed to sound even better live, and was certainly more fun. Eric made an array of little movements with his hands during the first verse, conducting them to the music, while at one point during the song he instructed everyone to put their hands up. The fans listened, moving their fists up and down to the beat.
“Little Space” was definitely the most electronic sounding song they did this night, after which Giovanni and the other guy let up on the electronic drums, as he went back to his bass for the lively “Gimme Control”. “I’m sorry I declined your baby offer earlier…” Eric again told the girl from earlier, who was very into the show. “I’m just too busy. I am.” he said, looking at the bass player, who in turn was looking at Eric like that was just an excuse. The trio moved on with “The Last Dance”, which featured some real percussion as Giovanni periodically beat on a floor tom that set beside him, against the wall of stage left.
“…Tell me, how am I supposed to know, should I hold you, should I let you go? Let me know, I’ll let you go…” Eric sweetly sang on another gem and instant classic from the “Hush” album, “Bedbugs”, ending it as he crooned, “…I could lie and tell you we could still be friends…”
Everyone was saddened to hear Eric announce they had just one song left, but after a quick chat with Giovanni, they decided to do two. One of those songs was “Stranger”, and as they finished it, one girl let out a loud shriek of excitement. “I guess I am having your babies.” Eric said after pinpointing it was the same girl as before “She’s a shrieker.” he stated while laughing. As it stood, they had played the majority of “Hush”, and now, to end their 41-minute long set, they performed the title track. That song is something else in the live environment, and Eric was in top form while performing it, in complete control of the stage as well as the audience’s attention while he thrashed about on stage, then, in true rock star fashion, left the stage right after his final line.
Even after two years I still remember that first of theirs I saw pretty vividly, and the one this night at the Prophet Bar is another one that’ll live on in my mind for quite some time. And since they didn’t do anything from the “Get Sharp” album, it almost was like seeing them again for the first time this night.
Their showman for sure, and the three of them owned the stage this night as The Limousines. However, as amazing as Eric’s voice is (and it does sound even more remarkable live), and as mind blowing of a live show as they put on, one of the most surprising things to me is that is heavily as they rely on electronics and even backing tracks, none of it sounds synthetic. It’s all very real and has a clean, organic sound to it all.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and they do have one more show booked for the year in San Jose, CA at the Blacnk Club on December 20th.
They alone were worth coming out on this Monday night and the $15 price tag, but there was one more band after them, and they hailed from Nashville, TN.
I had listened to a little bit of Mona’s music just a few days before the show, and honestly, didn’t really get into it. There are plenty of bands, though, that end up being better live, and I figured I’d stick around for a few songs and give them a chance.
They played a decent amount of material from their self-titled record, beginning with “Listen to Your Love”. Whatever reason I had of not liking their music beforehand was quickly dispelled with that explosive number, which had pulled pretty much the entire crowd (of around 80+ people, not band for a Monday night) as close as they could get to the stage, watching in awe.
Well, I now knew I’d be sticking around until they finished.
The quartet killed some time as they dealt with the drummer, Vince Gard’s monitor, which wound up not being turned on. “…That means he played that song like a badass!” said singer and rhythm guitarist Nick Brown, before they moved on to another single from their debut album, “Teenager”. Audience participation was a must on it, and they got nearly everyone clapping to the beat at the start of it, while Nick asked the fans to sing along at the end, which most everyone seemed happy to do, though it wasn’t loud enough. “Vince’s girlfriend is louder than that!” Nick told everyone in order to get some more out of them, and that helped lead to the start of some Texas jokes, since his girlfriend was from Texas, and her sisters were actually part of the audience.
After having some fun and laughs with everybody, they got back into show mode, doing a song from the recently released “Torches & Pitchforks”, “Wasted”, which I did find to be a bit repetitive at times. You could already tell that humor, especially in regards to banter, was a big part of Mona’s show, and at this point it appeared they were about to do a cover. “I heard there was a secret chord…” Nick crooned while softly plucking the strings of his guitar, getting an excited reaction from a few fans. A rendition of “Hallelujah” was not coming though, as he stopped right there. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he said, about the idea of them even covering that song, before they promptly tore into “Darlin’”, lead guitarist Jordan Young, bassist Zach Lindsey, Vince and Nick all rapidly rocked out on their instruments.
Upon finishing it, the Texas jokes continued, and while none were negative, they were pretty hit and miss with this group of Texans. “…I know, Texas jokes aren’t funny. Lighten up. It’s a Monday…” Nick said, acting as if he was irritated, but in a joking way. And since that wasn’t working, he put the target on himself. “…That guy with the mic makes less and less sense the more he drinks…”, which got the biggest rise from the crowd yet.
They kept going with a couple of other songs, the latter of which wound up being one of my favorites of theirs. It was very sharp and filled with venom, essentially being the epitome of a rock song. It was interesting when they finished it, though, Nick saying to everyone, “…Sometimes you play songs that aren’t even songs…” “Was that even a song before we started it?” Zach asked, giving the impression that perhaps it came about spur of the moment. Nick then moved the conversation in to what concerts have evolved into these days. “…You hear what you know, and then leave…” He then added, “I don’t believe in that.”, before continuing with, “I know music played by humans for humans is a novel idea…” The thing is, all of that would almost be funny if there wasn’t so much truth to it.
Is what wound up being funny, though, was that after this speech about people only sticking around to hear the “popular” songs, they did “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”, which Zach pointed out after they finished was the one song that everyone here knew (well, I didn’t know it, though.) It was ironic that things would work out that way, but certainly not hypocritical.
The talk of music continued, and now Nick also incorporated some real life experiences in order to show how different everybody is. “I’ve met people that have dicks who like other people with dicks. I’ve met people with dicks that like people with vagina’s…” He then threw in a meeting with someone from here in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. “…Earlier I met a guy who’s been homeless for six months and said he’s an atheist…” (while on the topic of religion, at one point during the show Nick informed everyone that he was the son of a pastor, I believe it was, laughing when he said no one probably would have thought that.) The purpose of all that was to show that while we’re all different as far as background and beliefs go, we’re still all pretty much the same. “…Music is bigger than all of us. Fuck religion… fuck state….” he said, adding a bunch of other institutions to that list, before closing with, “I believe in music.”
I think that was the most Rock ‘n’ Roll speech I’ve ever heard, being very impactful, and they of course had to prove that, going almost right in to “Shooting the Moon”, which Nick put his guitar down for. He joined the audience on that one, as the crowd parted, letting him go where he wanted, which was almost back to the bar, before he eventually returned towards the front of the stage. They toned things down just a bit with “Like You Do”, and only did more so once Nick got his guitar back, knocking out “Pavement”.
I believe they followed it with another track from 2012’s “Mona”, “I Seen”. Regardless of if that’s right or wrong, Jordan, Zach, Vince and Nick tore it up on their respective instruments, and even though their 70-minute long set was almost over, they still had a lot of energy left to put into it.
One more song came next, after which they again thanked everyone for coming out on this Monday night. “…No one ever wants to do anything on Monday’s.” said Nick, before they brought the night to a close with “Lean Into the Fall”.
What they did was put on a real, entertaining performance, the likes of which are hard to find.
Making it all the better was the fact that I was not prepared for it in the least, and that’s always a great feeling when you see a band and they completely blow you away.
Anyway, in watching the members of Mona on stage, all the potential they have is readily evident, which makes me glad I saw them here at the Prophet Bar, because there’s no doubt they’re destined for bigger and better things (and bigger stages). They just have all the key components, from the live show, to writing meaningful music that has that certain radio friendly quality to it, and everything else a band needs to succeed.
They may be done playing for now, but keep an eye on their tour schedule, ‘cause they’ll no doubt be busy in 2014. And in the meantime, check out their music on iTUNES.
Very fun night, and it was nice getting to some bands from beyond the North Texas music scene. Too bad every Monday night can’t be this much fun. Oh, and this also wound up being the 600th concert I’ve seen. Not bad if I do say so myself.
It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.
The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.
This Dallas date was billed as a “private event”, with buying tickets in advance being the only way to get in, as no tickets were sold at the door, giving it an exclusive feel, to an extent.
On top of that, Free had organized the lineup, with her cousin Jordi Baizan and fellow Los Angeles based singer Sierra Swan opening for her. (Dallas locals At Night were also scheduled to perform, though their van broke down on the way back from their Houston show).
However, since this was such an early show (starting about 6PM), both openers had finished by the time I was able to get there, though I heard good things about both.
Still, everyone was most excited for Free Dominguez, who had been over at the merch table meeting people and signing stuff for most of the evening (from what I heard), only leaving shortly before her and her bands 8:40 start time in order to get ready for the show.
Much of their 67-minute long set was comprised of material from “Volcano and the Sea”, an album that at one point during the night Free said she had been wanting to make for ten years, sounding elated that it had finally happened.
They kicked things off exactly how the record does, with the beautifully serene yet roaring rock number, “Calling”. She informed the decent size crowd on the title after they finished it, chatting with everyone briefly. “This is going to be our last song.” Free joked before they launched into “Beautiful”, which was just one of many songs this night that guitarist Static was able to shred on.
Drummer Beak Wing counted them in on the mesmerizing “Line in the Sand”, which was the last song they did in order as is heard on the record, and afterwards Free again spoke with the crowd, creating a real rapport with everybody. One thing she did was point out a couple who had drove all the way from St. Louis to see this show, a feat that earned them a round of applause. “…It’s stuff like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing…” remarked Free, being genuinely humbled by that, as well as all the fans in general who had come out to show their support.
“Make me a simple life before I die…” Free crooned as they started “Simple Life”, which somewhat deals with materialism, and wound up being a highlight of their show. At least I thought so. Upon finishing it, she pointed out one of the lines from it, for those who might not have caught it, and that was, “…Things that are forever are forever changing…” She commented on how that’s more or less a mantra for her, and it is probably one of the most true lyrics from a song. Talk then led to the next song, which Free noted was the first song she and Static wrote that wound up leading to “Volcano and the Sea”. “…He was screwing around on Skype…” she said, saying she liked what he was doing on his guitar and asked him to continue.
They then slowed things down with the dark and gorgeous “Corridors”, with Free hitting some utterly beautiful notes with her voice. “That’s always a fun one to do. It’s always different.” she stated, referring to Static as “the feral one”, adding that he always keeps them on their toes while performing it. And while they had toned things down with that song, they were about to scale back even more as Beak Wing and bassist Matt McJunkins left the stage. Free told everyone that for this next segment, she let Static pick the songs they were going to play, ones she hadn’t prepared for and was going to be as surprised as the audience. “…I might even forget the lyrics, like I did last night in Houston.” she said laughing.
This portion of the show saw them doing some stripped down covers of Kidneythieves songs, and the first one was the lead track from “Zerospace”, “Before I’m Dead”. They may have sounded a little different, but it was these songs that everyone seemed to love, and much of the audience was even singing along to them, especially “Jude (Be Somebody)”, which everyone seemed ecstatic to hear, and it did even catch Free off guard. “I don’t know what it is.” she said after Static’s first riff on the guitar, reiterating that after the second, before realizing. And no, she didn’t flub the words to either of those tracks.
As the rhythm section returned, Free took a few moments to discuss another project she and Static are working on, which will be a hip-hop collaboration. She expressed her love of the genre, even saying they recently got word from the label that they will be able to get who they want to collaborate with for what I believe she said would be an EP that would most likely be released in the first half of next year. She sounded very excited about it, and it will no doubt be an interesting record to hear once it’s finished.
As they got back to her solo material, they did some revamped renditions of a couple songs from “(.Unearth.)”, the addition of Matt and Beak Wing really helping flesh out the songs from how they are on the album, helping transform “ Darkest Rivers” into a beast of a song, and one they could all really throw down on. “…Enjoy it…” said Free, urging everyone to get the most out of it, adding, “…’Cause I don’t know when we’ll be back…” Following it was “Questions + Lies”, which helped wind the evening down, but they still had a couple songs left to do.
But before playing any more, Free pointed out that a special guest was in attendance, and that was someone who had backed their Kickstarter campaign, picking the reward option of having her write a song about him. In order to get to know him she said they had talked online many times, and she also had him keep a dream journal for a while, which he then gave to her. She was excited about the song, saying how good it was sounding and that she has had to fight the urge to share even a snippet with him, because she wants him to be surprised when he hears the full song, which she said would be titled “Mr. Goodnight”.
They got back to it with “Hearts Like Parachutes”, which made them appear as if they were still getting warmed up, with the whole band really loosing up, especially Matt, who thrashed about to the beat. Then, before their final song, Free pointed out someone else who was in attendance. It was a young girl who was at her first ever concert, and Free said she was glad the child had been in the bathroom earlier when she said the “f-word”. “…I’m sensitive about that stuff…” she clarified, shortly before encouraging everyone to support their favorite band by buying their music, then bashing a streaming service with, “Fuck Spotify!”. It was “Wolf” that brought their show to a close, though even after a little more than an hour, no one was ready for it to come to an end, letting it be known when it was said that would be the last song. “Do you not want me to enjoy this shot?” Free said jokingly, having gotten one early on in the night, but only drank a portion of so it didn’t “fuck up” her voice as she put it. A respectable ting to do I might add, since so many musicians these days don’t seem to think twice about how it might affect their singing.
As the band retreated back stage, the DJ they had at the event began to spin some more music as everyone started to mingle a bit, thinking it was over. It wasn’t.
Static and Free returned to the state after a minute or so, performing over the track the DJ had going, giving everyone one little bonus track.
It was truly an incredible show, and making it all the better was the intimate feel it had. The Prophet Bar is a smaller venue, and all four members were fairly cozy on stage, having just enough room to do a little moving around. That didn’t keep them from putting on one helluva show, though.
There’s no question that Static is a phenomenal guitarist, stealing the spotlight at times as you watch in wonder at his mastery of the instrument. Beak Wing and Matt are also experts at their craft, while Free Dominguez is amazing in all aspects. Often this night she could be seem conducting her body very fluidly to the music, moving her hands and arms about in perfect time to what her band was playing. On top of that, she has a stellar voice, which was no doubt the main tool that left everyone in awe this night.
Honestly, the first time I ever heard any Kidneythieves songs was the covers they did this night, it has prompted me to listen to their records. And while it may be a departure from the group that made her famous, Free’s solo music is every bit as great, albeit in a different way, but in the end, it’s all riveting music that will pull you in and make the trip an experience.
If you haven’t yet heard her solo stuff, check it out in either iTUNES or Bandcamp.
I’m glad I wound up going to this show, as it was well worth it, and I definitely won’t miss out on the next one… Whenever that may be.
Having six bands on a bill means getting the show started early and having most of the bands do shorter sets. So, by the time I arrived to the Curtain Club this night, I had already missed Item 9 and A Life in Arms Reach, while Down to Friend was getting ready to take the stage for their CD release show.
Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan. They were heavier than what I like, with a hefty amount of screaming. But even I managed to find their high-strung show somewhat entertaining, and their fans clearly loved it, moshing pretty much the entire time they were on stage.
And if their genre sounds more like your style of music, you can find the EP they released, “So Awesome, It’s Stupid” in iTUNES.
The music style changed with the next set of bands, with Waking Alice ushering in the rock portion of the night.
They may have had an abbreviated 30-minute long set, but it was still long enough it allowed them to hit the highlights, and they packed it full of rock., an getting them off to an excellent start was “Treason”. As usual, the song was sped up from what you hear on the “Retribution” EP, drummer Jonn Levey providing a quicker beat for the song, resulting in it having much more of an urgency to it. It seemed like they might slow things down with the following song, which frontman Rus Chaney noted was a brand new one they had written a couple of weeks before. “It’s a love song.” he added, prompting a jokingly disappointed “awwwe” from their fans and friends. “Shut up.” he quipped, saying it was more of an atypical love song, and, if I heard the name right, was titled “Paper. Rock. Shotgun.”
It certainly wasn’t your normal love song, and music wise it even had some slightly dark undertones at times, though the lyrics were definitely that of a love song, and not in the generic way that so many songs like that are written in. And if there was still any doubt that perhaps it was not a rock song, than Brandon Brewer’s guitar solo quelled it, being slick, polished and all around awesome. It also further whets the appetites of their fans, giving everyone a little more insight into what Waking Alice has been working on, and already has me intrigued as to what will be coming down the pipeline next.
“Scars” had a super tight rhythm section this night, particularly at the beginning and before the choruses, when bassist Brayton Bourque swiftly plucked the strings of his bass in perfect synch to Jon’s drumming, which was pretty fast in itself. Very cool, and just shows how the band is still tightening up their live show.
They were already halfway done with their set, and continued on with their latest single, which Rus mentioned at the time may even still be up for free download on their Reverbnation page, joking that every now and then they can be nice and give stuff away. He was referring to “Hostage”, the heavy and intense track that has quickly become a fan favorite. “Fighting for myself to break free from your grasp. Now I’m on my feet, I’m gonna kick some ass.” Rus sang on that beast of a song, before they moved on to some classic Waking Alice. “…You might know it.” remarked Rus before they launched into “Biggest Lie”, which is always an interesting one to hear, due to the ever changing guitar solo Brandon does during it. The one this night was one of the best riffs I’ve heard him go on, having a very raw rock sound, and Jonn also got the spotlight for a few moments, as he knocked out a drum solo.
They then closed with a cover. “…It’s probably Jonn’s favorite.” Rus commented. Jonn then smiled as he led them into The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.”. They put a good spin on it, and I found myself liking it even more this time around than the (only) other time they did it. You could tell they’ve put some more work into it since their September show, and hopefully it’ll be a cover that sticks around for a little longer.
Their set did seem to pass by a little quick, and I think everyone of their fans would have liked to have heard another one or two tracks, but there’s always next time for that. Actually, this shorter set seemed to make them hustle a little more, invigorating them and making them even more dynamic than usual.
They have one last show for the year lined up on the last day of the year (December 31st) at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, for those who really do want to rock in the new year. And of course check out their music (new and old) in iTUNES.
InnrCor was next up, another band who was celebrating the release of a new record, as well a brand new lineup for the group.
I stuck around for a bit, but just never really got in to it, and since I had been feeling under the weather since early on in the week, still didn’t feel great and I knew I didn’t like the headliners, Mad Mexicans, I went ahead and called it an early night.
It may have been a relatively short show for me, but that should say something about Waking Alice, too, ‘cause they alone were well worth the trip to the Curtain.
Area station KXT (91.7 FM) was celebrating their fourth anniversary this night, doing so by having organized a concert at the Granada Theater. And what a concert is was…
Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) was headlining, but they had gotten a lone local band on this bill, and the Fort Worth/Dallas based Oil Boom had the pleasure of opening up this show.
The trio hit the stage at eight on the dot, drummer Dugan Connors counted them into their first song. Singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor then ripped into his guitar, starting one of their latest singles, “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, and if there was anyone in the room who was skeptical about the opener, that song quickly dispelled those thoughts. It’s a rocking good time, having everything desirable in a song, and they were only just getting started, as Dugan wound them into their next song with some steadier beats, while Ryan lightly plucked away at his axe.
“Happy birthday, KXT!” Ryan quickly shouted after finishing that track, as they tore into another unrecorded number, which boasted a sensationally tight rhythm section, bassist Steve Steward and Dugan ruling the tune. Well, except for the nice little solo Ryan got.
They were making sure they had time to play everything they could in their 31-minute set, but occasionally at time to insert some dialogue, such as at this point, when Steve held up his hand, making the “devil horns” gesture. “So, Johnny Marr is cool. Right?” Getting a roaring reaction of agreeance from those who had shown up early, then he added, “I’m not sure if the devil sign is right.” He didn’t have much time to reflect on it, though, as they bolted into another fun number, following it with another track.
“…I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll, I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll…” Ryan repeatedly sang throughout their next number, after he had made a quick guitar change, with the song being probably one of the most appropriate ones of the night. “You may have heard this next one on KXT.” Ryan informed any potential listeners of the station. “It’s “Don’t Worry, be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin he cracked. “I was going to say it was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.” Steve chimed in. It wound up being neither, and instead was what is arguably the best track off the 2012 “Gold Yeller” EP, “The Great American Shakedown”. It’s filled with some soulful rock guitar chords, and the chorus will instantly have you singing along to it.
Sadly, that brought them to their final song of the night, which wound up being their longest, too, and worked as a fitting song to end with. “…I’m slowing down…” sang Ryan at points of this bluesy and slightly soulful number, as he Dugan and Steve, eventually trailed off on their playing, giving the impression that they were done. They weren’t quite done yet, though, coming back in strong, and finishing it out.
While their time on stage was short, they packed it full of energy, and their fun songs that sound a little like classic rock, while also incorporating some blues and soul into it all.
It may not be cutting edge, but it is pretty original music, and making it all the better is how polished their musicianship and stage show is, all of which resulted in me loving them even more this time around than I did the first time I saw them.
From Ryans’ distinct voice, to the humor he and Steven throw in from time to time, and even the faster paced, infectious songs they have, which are in part thanks to the quick beats Dugan busts out, there’s surely something about Oil Boom that will appeal to you. And out of all the local bands that could have opened this show up, these guys really deserved the spot, and I can’t imagine anyone having gotten the night off to a better start.
They have another Dallas show set for November 30th at The Prophet Bar, and check out their records in iTUNES.
Following them was singer/songwriter Meredith Sheldon, who was accompanied by another electric guitarist on stage.
“…I’m very happy to be back here for only the second time in my life.” she said after taking the stage, with “here” being the great state of Texas. She also noted she was from Massachusetts, and when she finished speaking of course one guy felt the need to comment, shouting at her, “Your hot!!”, a remark she kind of laughed at before dismissing it.
That was about all the talking she did, as they launched into a 35-minute set of continuous music, as they went from one song right into the next. They were a big departure from the acts they were sandwiched in between, being more minimal in some ways, yet they still retained a very rock element in their performance, and each could really shred on their guitars when they needed to.
They were still somewhat quieter, though, and her singing was fairly soft at times, giving what I thought was a very interesting dynamic to her songs.
In the end, I was a bit indifferent to it all. Some of the songs I really liked, others I just didn’t feel. For two people, though, they manage to put on a fairly entertaining live show.
With them off stage, the crowd couldn’t wait to see Johnny Marr, anxiously waiting for the 9:50 start time to roll around…
(I reviewed Johnny Marr’s set for On Tour Monthly. It can be found HERE.)
It’s hard to believe, but it had already been almost six months since Spooky Folk performed their Farewell for Now show, giving their hometown of Denton one last show to savor before singer Kaleo Kaualoku moved to Colorado. It was made clear they were just going on a hiatus, though, not breaking up, and would be doing shows whenever he could make it back.
Like this night for instance, where Dan’s Silver Leaf was again serving as the setting for their gig, and a well attended one at that.
The range in music styles was pretty eclectic this night, beginning with Peopleodeon, who did a short 18-minute long set.
The quintet was very electronic based, with the only live instrument being the drums. Though there are an electronic act or two that I do like, for the most, I’m not a fan of the genre. It wasn’t just that, though. Their singers voice was very soft, easily being overpowered by the music, nor did she have much of a stage presence, standing with her hands in her pockets as she sang into the microphone.
Needless to say, they didn’t win me over as a fan, and I’m glad they didn’t get too much time on stage.
It didn’t take long for them to clear off and Pageantry to set up their gear, getting the night going in more of a rock direction when they took the stage shortly before eleven.
Their final Denton show of 2013 was comprised mostly of newer or non-album tracks, such as their opener, which did a great job of setting up the dreamy rock landscapes their music takes you through. As the song came to an end, singer and guitarist Roy Robertson transitioned them into their next song with some hypnotic guitar notes. The title track of their debut EP, “Friends of the Year”, is an engrossing one, then, after quickly informing the audience of who they were, they got back to work with another tune.
Drummer Ramon Muzquiz segued it into the following song with some hefty drum beats, while a a loud mix of the drums, guitar and Pablo Burrulls’ bass wound them into the next song, “Disaster”. The very rhythmic track was a highlight of their set, as was the song that came afterwards. “I just want to crawl all over you…” Roy sang at the start as well as on the chorus, which is quite infectious.
Before that one, Roy had remarked that this would be their last Denton show of the year, noting they would be taking a little time off from performing, and now, as their 39-minute long set neared the end, they took another break as he pointed out their merch table set up in the corner. “…We have shirts for boobed and no boobed people.” he said. I’ve never heard men’s and women’s shirts described that way, and it was quite funny. He then announced the name of their final song for the night, which was “Caution”.
Their time on stage seemed to pass all too quickly, and I only wish they had, had a little more time so perhaps they could have done the other two tracks from their EP.
It was still a great show, though, and I think it’s safe to say Pageantry is one of the more original bands that resides in North Texas.
Roy is an excellent song writer and story teller, which is readily apparent, while the music has dashes of pop thrown in, giving it a bit of a glossy sound, but not enough to undermine the rock elements, which comes first.
Check out “Friend of the Year” on their Bandcamp page, and just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more updates on them. They did a little tour a few months back, and released that EP earlier in the year, so it seems safe to say that 2014 will be an even bigger year for Pageantry.
The crowd had enjoyed both of the opening acts, but it was Spooky Folk who everyone was most excited about. As I said, it was May when they last played in Texas, while they performed at a music festival in Denver back in July, and they were greeted with open arms, packing out about three fourths of Dan’s Silver Leaf, with some people even standing out on the back patio trying to glimpse in at the stage.
Songs from their debut self-titled record as well as the upcoming “Youth is a Notion” were in play this night, and they started with a series of newer songs, drummer Chris Brown knocking out some powerful beats to kick off their opener. I’m sure I had heard it before, though I didn’t remember it, but it really stood out to me this night, and I’m already betting it’ll be one of my favorite cuts from the new album.
“I Believe”, which boasts a riveting ebb and flow, having some sweeter spots along with sections you could rock out to, seemed to get them into the full swing of things, as well as garnering the full attention of everyone. While the final notes from Petra Kellys’ violin, along with the other instruments, trailed off, singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku began plucking the strings of his guitar, leading them into “Notion”. “Youth is a notion that is crooked as crime. Death lies in waiting in these shadows of mine…” Kaleo sang at the start of the track, which is just another one of their songs that deals with real life themes.
“So what’s been going on these last few months?” Kaleo asked the collection of friends and fans, who were clearly glad to have him back, even if it was just for a few days, answering the question with cheers and applause. He continued chatting with everyone, eventually mentioning their new record. “…It’s finally done.” he said, adding it should be available in the next month or so. When he ran out of stuff to say for the moment, he asked Petra to take over for him. “Kaleo abandoned us for Denver!” she exclaimed, giving him a hard time about the move. “It’s only a twelve hour drive.” he said, to which she corrected, saying, “More like fourteen.” “It’s only an hour and forty-five minute plane ride.” he replied.
Aside from some tuning that was going on, guitarist Jesse Clay Perry had moved over to stage right, where he now clutched Scarlett Wrights’ bass, while she had picked up her melodica. You could feel how anxious everyone was getting about hearing one of the fan favorite songs, but instead of jumping right into it, they eased in with a serene violin intro, mixed with some soft guitar notes. It was a delightful intro to “Resurrect!”, almost as good as the song itself.
Everyone was on a high from that song, and after another new one, Scarlett pounded out some thick bass lines, a little unrecognizable at first, but eventually becoming clear it was leading them into “This Sleep”. “It’s good to be back in Denton for a few days.” Kaleo stated after finishing the song, as they geared up for another classic. The crowd was ecstatic when they heard them rip into “Polaroid”, most of whom sang along to every word, appreciating something that before was probably taken for granted a bit, back when Spooky Folk would (and could) do multiple shows a month.
“If you can hear me, clap once.” Petra told the audience during another break, having fun with them by adding, “I said once.” after dozens of people had clapped their hands together. During the lighthearted moment, Scarlett exited the stage, while Chris and Jesse got more out of side, as Kaleo and Petra did softer track from the new record, and one she was quick to point out was her favorite. That pretty song was followed by another new one, requiring the full band like just about every other song of theirs, and it was a pretty lengthy one at that. It was a truly fantastic number, completely captivating me. It was balanced out by the shortest song they could have done, and it was done with the full-band, verses as a duo like the last time they played Dan’s. The song was “Diddle”, and the bass, drums and extra guitar made it even more moving, while Jesse and Scarlett sang along with Kaleo and Petra at the end, “…Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days…”
It trailed off, giving way to the gradual rise of “Kicking and Screaming”, one of two newer songs that became a hit about as quickly as it was worked into their live show, and they prepared to end things with the other. Kaleo pointed out that the next song was the last one of the night, which had to have put a little doubt in everyone’s mind, especially when it was revealed to be “Disheveled”. Nothing against the song, which is quite possibly the strongest in their arsenal, allowing Jesse to shred on his axe, while Kaleo adopts a whole different demeanor as he belts out the chorus. It ended exceptionally, with the entire band chanting, “Oooh” over and over, which would have been a perfect way to cap the show off, except for the fact that it wasn’t the one song everybody was wanting to hear.
“We’re gonna cut all the bullshit…” Kaleo declared after the applause subsided, adding that everyone knew they were going to do one more song, and they didn’t drag things out by having the crowd beg for an encore that clearly would have been coming. Instead, they dove right into “Bible Belt”, which is typically a sing along, and it was a massive one this night, much of the crowd singing along to the chorus, “I was born on the bible belt. Give me something sharp so I can kill myself, ‘cause I can’t go on living this way…”, ending their 53-minute long set perfectly.
It wasn’t as epic a show as they had done back in May, when they did two full sets, playing their first record in its entirety, as well as much of the sophomore release plus some covers, but it was still a memorable one. They hit all of the highlight tracks from “Spooky Folk” and then some, and they were well placed around all the new material.
What was surprising was how in tune they still were with one another. I’m sure they did some rehearsing for this show, but you still have to consider the fact that they hadn’t been on stage with one another in about four months, yet you never would have guessed it. The chemistry and tightness was still there, and it was impressive.
It’ll probably be some time before Kaleo gets back here in order for Spooky Folk to do another show, but at least the fans will soon have a new record to help hold them over to whenever the next show may be.
And until that record is released (which would assumingly be December at this point), check out their first one on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
But as great as the bands were, and as fun as the show was, the best thing about this night was that there was no sadness about it, like the farewell for now show. The mood was more festive this night, from the fans and band members alike, who were just happy to be seeing the band again, while Jesse, Petra, Chris, Scarlett and Kaleo were glad to be playing those songs live once more
It had been a little while since Serosia had done a hometown gig. Nearly two months to be exact, shortly before they hit the road as the main support act for Sevendust on a portion of their tour.
It was by far the biggest accomplishment Serosia has achieved yet, And now, after a few weeks back home to recoup, they were ready to perform an official homecoming show.
That was only made into more of a celebration thanks to Reno’s Chop Shop who was hosting and had put together quite the local rock show, making it the spot to be this Halloween night.
Gray-V got the night going, and by the time I got there (around 9), 5 Billion and Counting was finishing up a sound check.
The metal band was in the Halloween spirit, and got their show off to a fun start by doing the theme song to the Addams Family. It was certainly unlike any version I had heard before, with drummer Grant Bugg giving it a full percussion effect, while Jordan Robison made the rhythm section more dominating with some hefty bass lines.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and after that quick little song, they got into their original material, doing one aggressive and loud number, before slowing things down for a minute with “The (Real) Reason”, displaying what a good singing voice frontman Jason Wood has, doing a mix of singing and screaming on it. “This is one percent.” he stated before they began another track from their self-titled record, “1%”.
Things got much more intense with that one, and it was kept up with their next song, after which they took a break. Jason thanked the other bands and Reno’s for putting on the show, as well as urging people to check out their merch table, while guitarist Hector Delgado removed the devilish looking wolf mask he had been sporting. “…We’re not begging for your money, but we need your fucking money.” Grant chimed in, continuing on the topic of buying merch.
They knocked out a couple more songs, before ending with the deafening, “Reality”.
I should first note that 5 Billion and Counting’s music is far heavier than what I like, so I wouldn’t call myself a fan of theirs or anything. That said, I did enjoy this show more than when I saw them a few months back.
Jason’s screaming may be a little too much for me at times, but it’s balanced out pretty well with some slower parts, just enough that they managed to hold my interest. And they can definitely throw down on stage.
If you do like heavier rock/metal music, check out their record in iTUNES.
Following them, you had Secret of Boris, and all four members of the band were in full costume.
They were dressed as zombie cowboys, complete with cowboy hats and bloody bullet holes on their faces and necks, while frontman Cameron Taylor even wore some contacts that gave his eyes more of a dead look.
That said, it was fitting that they made their entrance on stage with the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” playing.
Once the song (and fanfare) had subsided, drummer Ryan Scherschell counted them into their opening track, as Ryan Ragus slapped out the opening bass riff of “How Do You Feel?” The infectious song had nearly everyone moving around, as well as singing once Cameron sang the first line, “Sheltered little girl on the run, fast as she can and far away from…”
It worked well as the opener this night, especially given how they had some in making their entrance on stage, rather than just going directly into the show. They of course received some applause for their efforts, though it was soon drowned out by the mix of the sample track and drums that begin “Desert Blood”. It may have gotten worked out of their live show for a while, but I’m glad it has found its way back, not just because it’s a favorite of mine, but I really do think it’s one of the best songs they do live, packed full of raw energy.
Another gem of their live shows is “What You Became”, during which Cameron got everyone to raise their hand in the air and wave it from side to side on the bridge, “…It’s true we like you better when you fail…” Another sample track then bridged it seamlessly into their next song, allowing Cameron enough time to get his rhythm guitar ready. The track sounded just enough like the song it was setting up to identify it to any SOB fans, and soon they tore into one of the singles from the “Your Ghost” record, “The Watcher”.
They took a little break to get ready for the next song, during which Cameron bantered with the crowd (who had packed the smaller room), saying earlier in the night he had walked into a convince store in his costume. “…Why are you dressed up like that?” he said one of the employ’s asked him, “And I was like, “What do you mean?” he said, getting a laugh once people caught the joke. He then turned the conversation towards the new material they’ve been working on in their rehearsal space. He had to ask a couple times, but eventually got a loud response of people who wanted to hear one of the ones, as Ragus asked him which one it was. “It’s the one you don’t know.” Cameron replied.
It was a different new one than they had done just a few weeks before, titled “Make It Out”, and it was a beast of a rock song, being more along the lines of “Desert Blood” or “What Have You Done?”, at least in regards to how powerful it was, and it may well be my new favorite SOB song. “I’m gonna need your help on this next one.” Cameron informed everyone before they started their fun and delightful rendition of A-Ha’s “Take On Me”.
That was the lone cover they did this night, and they returned to their stuff with the slightly dark, emotion filled, “Falldown”. As it neared the end, they were joined by an old familiar face, as Taylor Walding rushed on stage, adding an additional guitar to the sounds Ryan Byrd was already cranking out. It’s been around a year since he left Secret of Boris, though the moves weren’t lost him, thrashing around as he always had, as if he had never even left.
Another sample track segued them into the next tune, while Cameron pointed out his old band member, before saying their final song for the night would be, what else, but “Virus”. It was performed with the band as a five-piece, giving it an extra layer that the song doesn’t necessarily need, though it was noticeable, and made the song even more incredible than usual.
Taylor quickly exited the stage, while Byrd began to put down his guitar, making the show seem like it really was over, and leaving me thinking, “I can’t believe they’re not doing Retro.” Well, they weren’t about to ignore that staple song.
Some of the crowd had already started for the patio area, but most were pulled back in when they heard the start of the song, while Cameron grinned. “Do y’all want to hear one more?” he asked. It had been quite awhile since I heard them end a show with that song, and it was nice to see it back as the closer, wrapping up their 38-minute long set. It also featured one more brief appearance from Taylor, who sang some backing vocals on the bridge, “Repackage, reissue. Re-track, remix, continue.”
Secret of Boris made sure their Halloween show was memorable one, chocked full of energy as it always is, and the costumes served to only make it more fun for everyone.
There’s no doubt they’re one of the more original sounding bands in the D/FW music scene, from the unique brand of rock they produce to the, to the very distinguishable voice that Cameron possess. And if the rest of their new material is as great as the songs I’ve heard so far, then their next record will outdo everything they done before.
You can get some FREE song downloads on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and if you dig it, check out “Your Ghost” in iTUNES.
By the time Serosia was all set up, it was around 11:20. Still kinda earlier, giving them ample time to run through what was nearly an hour long set.
Drummer Anthony D’Agata, bassist Joseph Kuban and guitarist Derek Troxell got their show going with a brief instrumental portion, acting as a prelude to “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars”, which Derek soon launched them into. As always, it was one hell of a way to start things off, and they were only just getting warmed up and starting to build their momentum for the night. “What you say, Reno’s?” roared frontman Lucas D’Agata, receiving some loud cheers, while his band mates wound things into the next song, “Friendly Fire”.
The fans were getting warmed up, too, doing some jumping at the start of that heavy song, as instructed by Lucas, pumping them up for the moshing that would come later. The hard rock, and at times somewhat melodic “Criminal” followed, and upon finishing it, Lucas addressed their costumes for the night. “…Oh yeah, were three of the dead presidents and a chicken…” he said, as he, his brother and Derek each had their faces painted white with some black around their eyes, resembling skeletons, while Joseph was in a full chicken suit. “It was the brainchild of him.” Lucas added, pointing at Joseph. He went on to say how good it was to be back home after their stint on the road with Sevendust, after which they tackled another song.
“This is The Architect.” Lucas announced, as they churned out another song from last year’s “Variables” EP, and album they would play in its entirety by the time the night was over. “Change your mind today…” the audience sang in the final minute of the song, when Lucas suddenly stopped singing, while Derek lightly strummed the strings of his axe.
They bridged the end of it into their next song, but first Lucas shared something else from their tour. “…I told everyone on the road, “This is how we do it in Dallas.” he said, referring to their explosive live show, before he belted out the first line of their newest song, “Reduced to Memory”. They next took things down a few notches (at least at times), with the not often heard “A White Lie, A Red Herring”, though it’s a favorite of mine from their latest EP. A few fans began clapping to the beat at the start, prompting others to get involved, until just about everyone was doing it. “…I don’t mind that…” said Lucas, encouraging everyone to keep it up.
By this time in the set, the face paint had started to disappear from the sweat they had worked up, and also fading was Lucas’s voice. He pointed out he had gotten a bit sick, but so far (and oddly enough) his weakening voice was only noticeable when he was speaking, but sounded just fine when he sang. Even on “Ventriloquist”, which is possibly the heaviest song they do, with Lucas doing a great deal of screaming, his voice sounded fine. Speaking of that song, it had the tightest ending I think I’ve ever seen it have, Anthony, Derek, Joseph and Lucas all being in flawless synch with one another as they thrashed about.
Lucas then had a question for everyone. “Do y’all want to see Derek sing?!” he asked the audience, his voice cracking even more now, as “Ventriloquist” had clearly taken a toll on his vocal chords. “…These people paid good money to hear you sing.” Lucas told Derek, who was acting like he didn’t want to, before handing his guitar over to Lucas. Lucas then introduced their stage manager, Jim Shires. “…He lost his stage fright while we were on tour.” stated Lucas.
Jim and Derek shared vocal duties on a cover song they busted out, both doing some vicious screaming, while Lucas was doing a good job at shredding on the guitar. It was a fun way to break things up, and showcase a different side of Serosia that you never see, and once they reverted back to their typical places, they knocked out the at times beautiful track, “Sway”.
They were almost done now, and after pointing out that they only had one more song left, he chatted with his band mates briefly. “…Anthony really wants to do this song.” he told everyone. Throughout the night, one of their fans had been requesting “The Room”, which Lucas would brush off, at one point saying, “Yeah, the room’s packed.” Well, now he got his wish, as they barreled through that classic from their debut album, “The Current State of Being”, appeasing all the longtime Serosia fans, as well as many of the newer ones.
Now there really was just one song left, and while I thought Lucas’s voice had held up very well thus far, it was reaching the end of its rope. He even joked about it, saying, “…This might suck, but it’ll be the best fucking suck you’ve heard.” To be completely honest, no, it wasn’t the best I’ve heard “Superposition” sound, but it was far from sucking, either, and even if it had, I have a feeling that their rabid fan base wouldn’t have cared much. Before starting the sing along portion of the song, Lucas said they had done it every night they were on tour. “…And every night, it got louder and louder.” he said. “But I told everyone, “Dallas, Texas is the loudest.” So prove me right.” he finished, before the fans shouted, “I feel a war!” back at the band a few times.
In the end, he said their hometown crowd was the loudest, and rocking song, which allowed all of their fans who were there to express their sheer love for the band, was a nice way to conclude their 52-minute long set.
From my perspective, this felt like the perfect homecoming show for Serosia, and even on a Thursday night their fans had come out in droves to support them and welcome them back from their national tour.
Speaking of the tour, you could tell it paid off for the band. They’re known for their incredibly tight and calculated live performances, easily outdoing even some nationally known bands, but they of course don’t play night after night when they’re home in Dallas. And that rigorous touring they had done helped them elevate their live show to an even higher level, and if you thought they were a well-oiled machine before, well, you should see them now.
Your next chance to see them will be on November 17th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, where they’ll be opening for He Is Legend. And check out their music in iTUNES, and on their store in REVERBNATION.
It was an excellent Halloween, and I can’t think of any better way to have spent then by seeing some awesome local bands
This night turned out to be far less ideal than expected, at least in terms of the weather, when the rain began pouring from the clouds in the suburbs north of Dallas, as they gradually made their way to the city itself.
It suddenly turned into the perfect night to stay in the warm confines of a house, but Texas Music Live (which is part of Texas Music Magazine) had put together a little Texas tour of three Austin based acts, one of whom was Quiet Company. It had been five months since I had last seen them, and it was going to take a little more than heavy rain to keep me away from the show, which was stopping at the big room of The Prophet Bar on its fourth night.
Luke Huch was the opening act, though it was a full band performance, and one I missed just about all of, because they evidently got off to a very early start.
The first band who was on this tour was The Reynolds Number, didn’t waste time getting their gear set up, and after a quick sound check, they were ready to go.
“…We drove a long way to be here…” joked singer and pianist Om Shankar, noting it was all of about a three hour drive. He went on to encourage everyone to get closer to the stage, saying something to the effect of wanting to hang out with everybody, though the way he phrased it he should have said “hung”, leading to a humorous as he pondered on the past and present tenses of the word.
It’s always good to start with a joke, even if it’s one that happens unintentionally, and they then started their first song, the lead track from their newly released self-titled record, “Follow You”. It was clear from the get go that their set was going to be something to soak in, their catchy brand of piano driven rock immediately captivating you, while Om started the first line of the song, “In this town where we sleep and our bodies come to rest, someday it all will end…”.
There weren’t too many people there, but they had seemed to capture the interest of most who were there, and as the quintet wound things into their next track, they slowed it down, as Om mentioned this was their first time to play Dallas, looking at bassist Gabriel Elpers and guitarist Josh Atkins for confirmation on that. “What was that place we ate at?” he asked them, before remembering it was the Angry Dog, a staple restaurant in the Deep Ellum area, and one he seemed to have enjoyed.
They then moved on to the subsequent song on their new record, “Awake”, which eventually bled in to one of, if not the best song they did this night, “Cover Your Bones”. That latter song just had a different quality to it than the others, at least in the live environment, even having a strong sense of urgency to it at times, in a very good way.
Along with the current music, The Reynolds Number also threw in a couple of new songs they’ve written, one of which was “How Quick”, and it was another standout. “This one’s brand new. No one’s ever heard it, not even us.” Om joked before starting it.
Their show hit a well placed lull after that, guitarists Colin Campbell and Josh, as well as Gabriel and drummer Mack Arnos getting a little break for the majority of the piano based, “Prophet”. They sprang back into action afterwards, though, segueing the song right into the slightly poppy, “All Fall Down”. They knocked out one more new one, I believe it was titled “Diamond Days”, and upon finishing it Om pointed out their merch table at the back. “…It’s next to Quiet Company’s beautiful display… They took arts and crafts in school, and we didn’t…” he added, before Gabriel shook his head, saying, “I did.”
As their 38-minute long set neared its end, things got a little personal when Om stated this next song was about he and his dad going camping when he was younger, at least that was what he said to set up “Down to the Riverbed”. Their final song was another brilliant one, and best of all was the help they enlisted towards the end of it, when a few of the members of Quiet Company joined them on stage, adding some extra percussion to the song via some toms. Making it all the more entertaining was the fact that Matt Parmenter was wearing a Darth Vader mask.
They somehow managed to liven things up even more than what The Reynolds Number already had, making that song the perfect one to close with, and they even got a portion of the audience to chant along with part of the song.
I’ll admit, I’m not usually a fan of rock bands that rely so heavily on a piano, mainly because I feel it was overdone in years past when that was the “phase” in much of the mainstream music. That said, The Reynolds Number was different than most other bands in that category.
There was nothing about them that was generic, and they even put a bit of an interesting spin on their rock songs. They made me a fan with ease, from the well-crafted songs, which incorporated all of the instruments quite well, to Oms’ rather angelic sounding voice. Well, that, and also the energy Josh, Colin, Mack and Gabriel put on, all of whom could throw down and rock out.
They were just one of the bands of the night who has talent that, in a just world, will one day have them performing in a much bigger venue (and to a lot more people) than where they were this night. And hopefully that’ll happen one day.
In the meantime, you can purchase their music over on their BANDCAMP PAGE or in iTUNES. You can even download a live cut of one of their songs for FREE on the Bandcamp site. And for future show updates, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
They definitely got the ball rolling on this night of music, and if I hadn’t already been all too familiar with Quiet Company, I would have thought it was next to impossible for The Reynolds Number to be topped.
“…This spaced out stuff isn’t going to work…” Taylor Muse informed the audience once the sound check was complete. He urged everyone to gather in around the stage, saying, “Or I’ll punch you all in the gut…”, if they didn’t, to which a fan of theirs could be heard remarking, “He’ll do it.”
Things looked slightly different from what they had at the past Quiet Company shows I’ve seen, mainly because of the acoustic guitar Taylor was using. It did look foreign compared to what I’m used to, though it was a crucial part of their first song, which was either a cover or one of the few new ones they tried out this night. That was the only time that acoustic got used this night, though, and while he switched out to an electric, Matt Parmenter, who was apparently getting into the Halloween spirit a little early, donned his Darth Vader helmet. The funny thing was before they began their show the actual helmet part got detached from face mask part, and without the helmet, it did look a little strange.
“Tell a joke!” someone shouted before they were able to get the next song going. “…I used to tell jokes on stage… But then everyone else banned me from it…” replied Taylor, still managing to crack a joke. The sample track for “It’s Better to Spend Money Like There’s No Tomorrow Than Spend Tonight Like There’s No Money” then faded in, bringing with it its signature infectiously happy mood, and it’s one song that really provokes the urge to dance. During the break in the song, when guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Blank is doing his melodic solo, Taylor made things a little more fun. “…National songwriting treasure…” was the set of words he used to describe Will Smith, before busting out a portion of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That unexpected song within a song had much of the crowd singing along, sort of laughing while doing so, and I must say, Taylor could actually rap rather well. In all, it only lasted for a few lines, before they closed out their song, Taylor singing/screaming, “…We all end up… in the cemetery.”
Next up, they had a new song for everyone. “…You better enjoy them, or I’ll punch ya in the gut.” was another idle threat Taylor made. It was a good little song, being a bit different from most of the stuff from 2010’s “We Are All Where We Belong”, even sounding kinda slow at times. It was enjoyable, though, particularly the keyboard intro that Cody Ackors was in charge of at the start.
“I’d kill… At least a drifter for some water.” Taylor remarked after the applause had subsided, bantering with the audience a little longer before they launched into their next song. The drum stick he was clutching was a sign as to what it would be, using it to play his guitar for part of what is arguably one of the deepest songs you’ll find on “WAAWWB”, “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”. The fans were clearly feeling the songs passion, too, as most sang along to every word. They were also singing along to “You, Me, and the Boatman”, which they went directly into, drummer Jeff Weathers patching them into it with the steady beat of the songs verse.
Taylor suddenly ceased singing on one line, leaving the fans to weakly, yet audibly chant, “…Everybody knows what it looks like to be in love…”. They kept the string of songs going by transitioning into some soft percussion, Cody switching from his trombone to the additional tom, striking the rim of it, while Matt, Thomas and Taylor all clapped along to Jeff’s beats, getting the audience to do the same. Everyone seemed pleased to hear “On Modern Men”, another moving song with some powerful lyrics, and since I had last seen them, they had tweaked the outro a bit. Taylor got a solo of sorts, leaning over while his guitar hung in the air as he shredded on it, progressively getting faster, before his band mates matched the intensity as they brought it to a spectacular end.
They took a break after finishing it, and Taylor gave the obligatory merch speech all bands have to make, though it was different from most that I’ve heard before. He went into a lengthy conversation about how buying one shirt is the equivalent of four thousand and something plays on Spotify, joking that no matter how much you liked a song, after a few hundred listens you’d be pretty tired of it. “…So isn’t it just easier to buy a shirt?” he asked, also mentioning at one point that he was talking just to catch his breath.
They knocked out one more new one, a fairly fast paced tune that was Quiet Company at their best (or at least another example of it), with one of the lines being, “…My heart is pumping dust…”. As the music trailed off, Cody again took to the tom, while the rest of the band played some soft, and at times soupy notes, creating a truly perfect segue. The thing was, while I had an idea as to what the song was, until they switched gears and Taylor strummed his guitar, giving shape to “Preaching to the Choir Invisible, Part I (What do You Think Happens When We Die?)”. The fans again took part in clapping to the beat during the first section of the song, until it picked up.
It’s a wonderful note to end on, somewhat repeating what is essentially the mantra from the record, “We are all where we belong.”, and during the final minute of their 47-minute long set, Taylor grabbed the microphone stand, holding it above everyone’s heads, leaving the crowd to croon, “Ooooooh.” repeatedly.
That’s one of the best things about Quiet Company, they make sure the fans are a part of the show, not just spectators to the event.
Aside from that, it’s the more unique style of rock music they play (how many rock bands have you seen that use a trombone?), mixed with the honest, bone cutting lyrics. And then you have the fact that their live show is one of the most explosive and dynamic ones you can see, and they all leave everything out on the stage.
There’s a reason why within the past year they decided to become a full-time touring band, and if you see them, you’ll understand it.
Depending on your preference, you can buy their music on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP, and on their Bandcamp store you can even download a little sampler for FREE.
Rounding out the night was the longtime running Austin band Alpha Rev. They have a pretty dedicated fan base around here, and even elsewhere, but when I’ve listened to their music in the past, I was never won over as a fan, and I was curious as to if their live show might do the trick.
The band descended from the staircase around 11:25, taking their spots, as they prepared to start their 64-minute long set.
It was “Bloom” (which was released earlier in the year) that seemed to be the main focus of their set this night, and four of the five members, singer and acoustic guitarist Casey McPherson, keyboard player Jeff Bryant, drummer Clint Simmons and bassist Nick Jay all crooned into their respective mics, stretching out the intro of “Crystal Colorado”… A little too long if you ask me.
Once they finished it, Jeff slid over to the pedal steel guitar, while Casey took over the keys for “Highways”, before switching back to the acoustic axe near the end, as it got a little more catchy than it had been. They kept on moving through their setlist, doing a couple of other songs before getting to “Stop Trying”. “…This song’s about wanting to give up…” Casey informed the crowd, joking that he got pretty creative with the title.
“I Will Come” created more of an ominous, and even dark mood, before casting some light on with “New Morning”. Afterwards, they were joined on stage by Taylor Muse, who again had his acoustic guitar in hand. “Quiet Company!” Casey shouted, wanting to get some applause for them. “Actually, my name’s Taylor. Not Quiet Company.” Taylor clarified. They co-sang a song, and it was a cover I don’t imagine anyone would have thought they would do, since it was first done by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Taylor sang the first verse of “Islands in the Stream”, with Casey handling the second, before they turned it into more of a duet. It was mostly acoustic at first, too, and was truly beautiful, easily the most gorgeous song that any band did this night, and that held true even when guitarist Zak Loy and the rest of the band joined in on the song.
Taylor exited the stage after that song, though “Sing Loud” continued the beautiful, tranquil mood that cover had established, before winding things down with another number. As they prepared to end their show, Casey again took a seat behind the keys, while Jeff went back to the pedal steel guitar. “…This is about a letter written during the Civil War…” said Casey, adding this was one of his favorite songs to do. And while he was saying all that, Zak was exchanging his guitar for a mandolin. That was how they set up their final song, “Lexington”.
There can be no arguments that all five of them are extraordinary musicians. Clint was a fantastic drummer, while Jeff added a bit of elegance to the show, his fingers dancing fluidly across the keyboard. Nick had that same swagger all (or at least most) bassists seem to have, with even a little more gusto, and while Zak is a great guitarist, it was a little weird for me to not see him going full throttle, as he did with the band I last saw him in (the now defunct Mothers Anthem). As for Casey, he was clearly the glue that held them all together.
I can appreciate all that, but on the flip side, I still was made into a fan. Their music was often beautiful, especially at the times they had some four part harmonies going, but I also found it to be generic, and even dull, never holding my complete and undivided attention.
They currently have no shows on the horizon, though you can of course preview and buy their music in iTUNES.
When it was all said and done (and given how few people were there, either due to the weather or whatever), I felt like the $20 price tag to get in was overpriced by at least five dollars, and probably more like eight. Still, Quiet Company and The Reynolds Number softened the blow of the cost, making it worth it in the end.
It seems that so many bands these days (on the local level) don’t always give their band and fans a proper goodbye. Instead, many just fade into obscurity, becoming nothing more than a memory.
The Hope Trust wasn’t going to be one of those bands, though, and after eight years or so and two full-length records, they were offering one last performance to their fans, closing out their career with a hometown show at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton.
The lone opening act on this bill was the fellow Denton based group Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers, whom I’ve heard of for some time now, and was looking forward to seeing and hearing what they were like.
Their 37-minute long set was a mix of old and current material, and I believe even some newer songs, including the first couple they began with. It had my interest from the get go, being a good mix of folk and rock music, and it was clear from the start that singer and acoustic guitarist Daniel Rush Folmer penned some very good songs.
Upon finishing those two a friend of the bands who was in the crowd made the typical concert joke by requesting, “Freebird!”, which was met with a very unusual answer. “Well, get up here and sing it and we’ll play it…” Daniel responded, calling the guy out by name. Since they weren’t going to do “Freebird”, they did the next best thing, the lead track from their debut “Brown and Blue” album, “Brakeman”, a semi slower song that had a nice vibe. The folksy song was only accentuated by the pedal steel guitar that Burton Lee was playing, but that song didn’t go off without hitch.
Daniel broke a string during it, finishing out the song, before having no option but to replace it. As if that were a regular occurrence, his Designated Drivers took charge, drummer Justin Collins starting an instrumental piece with some light beats, with the rest of the group, guitarist Tony Ferraro, bassist Chris Garver and piano player Taylor Sims, as well as Burton, gradually joining in. It was some great riffing that kept them from losing all the momentum they had going, and eventually Daniel returned, but without his acoustic guitar.
He had instead been loaned an electric from The Hope Trust’s singer Kelly Upshaw, which seemed to make the rest of their show (or at least parts of it) a little more rocking than the first few songs had been. The slower love song “W/O U” was one that really stuck out to me this night, and I mentioned earlier how good a writer he was, take for instance one of the first lines, “…Baby cut me open I could use some love…”. They followed it with “Downers”, a fast paced tune from their most recent record “Malverde”, which had Tony adding some backing vocals to it, as he and Daniel sang some of the lines in time with each other.
“SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG” was another fun song, and after another new one, “Mama Plz Cum Home”, Daniel took a moment to introduce the Designated Drivers to everyone. After naming everyone else, he mentioned who he was, which turned into a joke as he said, “And I’m Kelly Upshaw…”.
They then knocked out a few more (three to be exact) newer songs to close out their show.
I thought Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers got the night off to a great start. The bulk of the songs they played were pretty fast paced, and while there were some folk tinges to the music, it was also pretty Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The distinctive voice that Daniel has also helped set them apart, and he just has one of those voices that, for example, if you were to hear on the radio, you’d immediately know who it was.
Their upbeat music and fun live show managed to make me into a fan, and I’ll definitely be seeing them again… Sometime.
You can purchase both of the band’s LP’s on their BANDCAMP PAGE, and they are pretty cheap as far as digital downloads go, so go give some of their music a listen.
Considering most of The Hope Trusts’ gear was already set up (i.e. the drum kit, etc.), it didn’t take too long for them to get the instruments set up and sound checked, before having to wait a bit, for their 11:17 start time.
Being their final performance, the quintet decided to focus on both the records they released, kicking things off with a few songs from 2007’s debut, “The Incurable Want”.
“Ok, Alright” seemed like a rather appropriate song to open with, seeming to fit the group’s current situation quite well when you took some of the lyrics out of context. “…All that’s left is death…” crooned singer and rhythm guitarist Kelly Upshaw before the song’s first chorus, as they got their last hurrah underway. Guitarist Jeremy Buller dabbled on the keys for “Run It Through”, another gem from that old record, while Kelly announced the song that followed it as being “Whatever Suits You”.
Tex Bosley got it started with steady and hefty drumbeat, and that song highlighted two of the best characteristics this band had; a catchy music bed and lyrics that could cut to the bone. For instance, “…Now everything you’ve hated is the future that you’re making, without me… Time can heal our wounds, but leaves a scar and bruise to remind you…”. I felt it a good reminder of why I assume most people (or at least myself) liked the band in the first place, and now, as the crowd heard that one and all the others for, in all likelihood the final time, it reinforced the idea that you needed to soak it all in and savor it.
“Don’t Want to Fight” concluded the time they spent on that first record, and as they geared up to move on to “Light Can’t Escape”, Mike Upshaw laid his guitar down and walked over to the keyboard at stage right. Kelly killed the time with some banter, saying something that this show was a recital. “…I like calling concerts recitals…” he joked, before adding, “…They are better than rehearsals.”
They then tackled the lead track from the record that wound up being their swan song, “Won’t Take Much”, a personal favorite of mine, and I will truly miss. “…Is confession all we’ll ever know? Is forgiveness at the end of the road?…” are a couple of the questions raised on that deep, thought provoking number, and as it ended, Mike went back to his guitar, as the rest of the instruments (and probably the clip of a sample track they used) resonated, bridging them into their next song, “Climb Your Own Trees”.
Already at a few points this night Kelly had thanked everyone for coming out, and during the next break he did so again, noting how much it meant to him and the rest of the band that they all were there. “…This is for the lovers…” he said of the next song they had in store, slowing things down for the more tender, “Drive to the Ocean”. Possibly the best part of the song was the outro, switched up a bit from what you hear on the record, prominently featuring Jeremy on the keyboard, which intertwined well with some sweet notes Mike was playing, giving the song an even more gorgeous texture.
Mike again manned the keyboard for the next song, “Afterglow”, and upon finishing it a fan shouted out, “Ten more years!” “It’s not me you have to convince.” Kelly replied, before soon naming the title track from the album, “Light Can’t Escape”. It was one of the more rocking songs they wrote, while still having their signature indie rock sound at its core, and that rock nature was on display at times, as all the members, including bassist Andy Odom, seemed to get more into it, and Kelly could even be seen shredding on his guitar a bit.
“There are seriously twenty-eight more songs left.” he joked, but even if it had been true, no one had a problem with that, and actually were welcoming of it. More than a few of their songs have some religious undertones to them, and none more than “Sleepy Romans”, which came next in their set, though they aren’t so much undertones in that one. “Oh, Jesus Christ, is it a bad time to get right with you? I’ll be good, do the things I should until you come back through…” is one of the many lines that’s a testament to that.
With the first notes of “Lost In Transmission”, it seemed like the night was about to end, seeing as that had been the standard closer since they released “Light Can’t Escape” back in 2011, or at least every time I had seen them that was how they ended gigs. It’s a fitting final note, and that was especially true this night, during the lengthy instrumental outro, which capped things of well.
That brought their 48-minute long set to a close, and for a moment it seemed like they were done, but the fans who were there weren’t quite ready for that. Some light chanting began, then, at the urging of the sound guy, the people got louder, and the five guys retook their spots.
“We don’t really do encores, so let’s get over the bullshit and just do more songs.” Kelly remarked. Mike once again played the keys on their next song, a single which Kelly said had been “certified pewter”. Jeremy was the lone guitarist on “Throw Me Overboard”, proving he can be a good, energetic frontman when not playing an instrument, and afterwards, they arrived at the final song.
“…Shit dies and things end. It’s going to happen to you and me…” Kelly said rather bluntly, and while I didn’t think he sounded all that bitter by it, one of his band mates asked him if he was. He then took a time out, thanking each of them for being in this band with him, saying he had been playing in bands with Jeremy and Andy since his early days. He also thanked Tex for being there, as well as Mike and another brother who was a spectator this night, but Kelly pointed out had been in the band at various points. “Tried To” ended this 9-minute long encore (of sorts) section, and though I wouldn’t have thought it before hand, it just sounded like the right song for these guys to end on. The outro was the best part, allowing all of them one final push, tearing it up on their instruments, before the band’s heartbeat slowed, giving out as Kelly once again thanked everyone for being there to witness it.
I think the best part of their show was the fact that there was no somberness to it. That’s not to say it was a happy event by any means, though I didn’t feel it was sad, either, unlike other farewell shows I’ve been to. None of the members of the band made it feel that way, either, instead it was like it was just another show.
It served as a nice final page in the book these guys had been writing over the years, and I don’t think their story could have ended any better.
I might not have been a die hard fan who was at every single show they did, but I did love the band and the music they made, and it will be missed. However, on the bright side of things, Kelly is planning on starting a solo career, backed by a full band, and he’ll have a record out next year (probably Spring 2014).
In the meantime, you can still purchase both of The Hope Trust’s records on their BANDCAMP STORE, so, even if you missed out on ‘em, give their exceptionally well written music a listen. You’ll be glad you did.
Pro Rehearsals had put together the show at The Curtain Club this night, showcasing five bands who rehearse at the space.
Realm Drifter was one of those bands, though they went on pretty early, well before I got there. I did arrive in time to see the second band, though, and that was Isaacs Fallen.
After seeing this trio take the stage, I remembered I had seen them before. Actually, a few times before, though it had been a few years.
I was never really a fan of theirs, just not liking the more throaty voice the singer and guitarist Shelton Enlow has, and that held true this night, too. At least for the first half or so of their set.
It took awhile, but I eventually started warming up to their alternative rock sounds, even enjoying it to a certain extent.
They weren’t my favorite act of the night, nor was I converted into a full on fan, though I legitimately enjoyed some of the songs they played, and for a three-piece, they really do have a well-rounded and full sound.
They (and presumably the first band, too) were a good way to warm up the audience this night, but there were still three bands left, all of whom could be headliners, and the first of those was Mara Conflict.
They ripped right into the first song of their 34-minute long set, causing some of the people from outside as well as those inside to gather more around the stage as the curtain was opened, revealing the hard rock/metal outfit.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” asked frontman Josh, after they had finished that first tune. He went on by trying to pump the crowd up, saying he knew most of the crowd knew the next one. “…It’s called Broad Brush.” he said, and even asked the fans if they knew how to start it, saying he was going to count them in. It didn’t go exactly as planned, and no one else let out an ear piercing scream like Josh did, before the instruments roared to life. That’s not to say no one enjoyed the song, though, they did, and it was impossible not to bang your head to the incredibly tight rhythm section drummer Dylan and bassist Charlie had going on that slightly dark track.
They kept the new(er) stuff coming, next doing “You Sleep”, Ben shredding on his guitar at the start of it, while they next cranked out the hefty, “Tempting the Mind”. As the song neared the end, Josh climbed up on the drum riser, facing Dylan while he sang, before jumping backwards off the riser. Upon finishing it, Josh mentioned they were tentatively calling their next song “Chainsaw Panda”. “In fact, I think that’s going to be the full title…” he said, “Tentatively Called Chainsaw Panda.” It’s a name that will stick with you, as will the song, and another truly excellent piece they’ve churned out is “Clear Eye Pane”.
“…Pane like a window pane, not like what you feel.” Josh clarified before the song. Jarrod added some sweet licks to it at times, by tapping his finger on some of the strings on his axe, creating a very unique sound. The song also has a killer instrumental outro, during which Josh left, leaving Ben, Jarrod, Dylan and Charlie up there to rock out and throw down.
Once the full group was reassembled, Josh checked to see how they were doing on time, and they had enough left for one more. That final song was “Closure”, which Josh pointed out was an apt song to end on, and it was, giving some finality to their set, while also being a little less heavy then their other stuff, at least at times, while the brutal screams are still thrown in for great effect.
Mara Conflict was fantastic this night, coming across as being more polished then they even were the last time I saw them, in regards to their performance and songs.
It was a dynamic show, and made me even a bigger fan of the bands than I already was.
If you like hard rock music (or even if you don’t), give ‘em a listen. They write some creative music that should appeal to most.
They have a couple of EP’s you can purchase in iTUNES, and while this was most likely their last show of 2013, expect to hear a lot more from Mara Conflict in 2014, when they should also have a new record available.
Once the curtain closed on them, the Secret of Boris logo, which is similar to shadowy figure from the crime watch symbol, lit up the stage left side of the curtain, only furthering the excitement of what was to happen next.
Via Facebook, the band had mentioned they were going to be changing things up for this show and the ones to follow, pulling out some songs that had been absent recently, and just re-working their overall show, which whet the appetites of the fans.
The three Ryan’s, Scherschell on drums, Byrd on guitar and Ragus on bass, got the show going, busting out an intense instrumental piece, which eventually gave way to their first song.
“The road is so cold, but every night you walk alone…” sang frontman Cameron Taylor, who rushed on stage just as “Desert Blood” got underway. It had been far too long since I had heard my favorite SOB song live, and, at least for me, was the ultimate beginning to their show. I would imagine many others had similar feelings, though, seeing as they amassed several dozen fans in front of the stage, all of whom were getting into it.
“Dallas, how do you feel?” Cameron asked the crowd (or something along that line) after they finished that song, setting up their most recent single, “How Do You Feel?”. The pulsating rhythm section Ragus and Scherschell create incited some dancing from many of the fans, who were only getting more engrossed by the show with each passing second.
Focus then turned back to 2010’s “Your Ghost”, an album that at one point during the night Cameron urged anyone who might not have it to pick it up when they were done. The song they did was “From Now On”, but they had changed it up a bit, specifically how at one point towards the end Scherschell launched a drum stick at Ragus, who caught it and began hitting the bass strings with it. It was all done very cleanly, and while it had clearly been rehearsed, there was still some spontaneity to it. Afterwards, the fans were presented with another question, and that was, “Are you ready to push it?”
After so many so years of doing, their rendition of Salt-N-Pepas’ “Push It” has become a staple of every SOB show, as well it should. They’ve made it into a solid rock song, putting their own spin on it, and it’s arguably the most fun song they do.
“…I think it’s time we do a new one.” Ragus remarked during the next break, while Cameron went and got his guitar. He joked that he wasn’t sure they as a band were ready to do a new one, though, despite the fans being eager for a taste of what they’ve been working on. Nevertheless, they still did a new one, which if I heard correctly, was titled “Bon Voyage”. Compared to their previous music, it had a slightly different sound, though in the end it came across as being more cohesive than even what they’ve done it=n the past, as well as a little more mature and even original sounding. It’s already been three years since their last record, and the wait for new recorded SOB music will be longer still, but if they keep writing songs like this one, then they’ll probably be breaking some new ground with their next record.
Cameron went back to being the frontman of the group for another fan favorite, “What You Became”. “Hand up!” he instructed as they hit the bridge, causing the audience to throw a hand up in the air and wave it side to side on the bridge, “…It’s true we like you better when you fail.” Afterwards, the hits just kept coming, the band segueing directly into “Retro”, repeating the drum stick throw that had been done earlier in their set, as Ragus again rocked out on his bass by using a drum stick to play it, while Cameron got another hand wave going.
A nice instrumental outro ended the song, bleeding into a sample track that Scherschell added some beats to, before the other Ryan’s joined in. When Cameron returned to the stage, he again had his guitar in hand. All of that made for the most flawless transition of their set, as they gradually started “The Watcher”, before eventually ending with the only song an SOB show should end with, “Virus”. “…Where do we go from here? All the way down…” the crowd shouted near the end of the song, being the only ones doing the singing at that time, before Secret of Boris closed out the song and their 39-minute long set.
I have to say, this was one of the best SOB shows I’ve seen in a long time, and quite possibly one of the best yet.
Everything in the performance was so fine-tuned and polished, even more so than usual, and the chemistry was most impressive, and even Ryan Byrd, the bands newest member, meshed even better than he had with them when I last saw them a few months before.
There’s no question they’re one of the more original bands currently in the North Texas music scene, and the talent to go well beyond the metroplex is certainly there.
Next up, SOB will be at Reno’s on Halloween night (Thursday October 31st), playing alongside Serosia, which will no doubt be an epic night. Over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can score some FREE downloads of some of their music, and if you dig that, be sure to go into iTUNES and buy “Your Ghost”.
Taking the late slot was White Elephant, a band who had been fairly quite since releasing their debut EP about two months previously, a show that I regrettably missed due to being sick. I was quite excited about making that up, though, and even though this night wouldn’t be the same experience as their CD release show, it was bound to be pretty close.
Before the curtain even opened drummer Ben Rhodes counted them into “Another Rapture Missed”, a deafening wall of sound suddenly emitting from the speakers as he laid into the full kit, while Matthew Miller and Josh Armstrong’s guitar and bass, respectively, roared to life. Pete Thomas was also already in show mode, head banging to the music before grabbing hold of the mic stand, belting out, “Here we go it’s all another rapture missed. The ash and snow, another rapture missed…”
It may have been late, but after that explosive start it became evident that wasn’t going to impede them, and shortly after finishing it Matt began plucking at the strings of his guitar, leading them into the next song of their 39-minute long set. Upon finishing it, Pete took a moment to thank Secret of Boris, while also incorporating his brand of humor. “…They were sucking me off before the show.” he remarked, before they unleashed another dose of heavy, hard rock on the dozen or so people who still remained.
During an instrumental break on that third song, Pete motioned for everyone to give him a moment, before spitting into the air. His intention was to catch it back in his mouth, though it didn’t get enough air time, and by the time he darted over to where it was it had hit the ground, as he shrugged it off. The barrage of delicious brutally heavy music continued with the lead track from the band’s debut EP, “Greatest Hits, Vol. 1”, “October 5th”. Pete left the stage at one point on it, getting out in the crowd and roaming about. The numbers weren’t there to start a mosh pit as he usually does, though he still pushed his way through the people, before returning to the stage at the tail end of the track.
They marched on with the following track from the record, “Coriolanus”, which is a real heavy hitter, and Josh and Ben seemed to make the rhythm section even more intense than usual on it. As they prepped for their next number, Pete again joked with the fans, saying this was about four hours past his bedtime, and continued with the jokes about his age. “…Take your vitamins, kids, and when you’re pushing fifty you, too, can look as good as Pete Thomas.” he said after raising the question of if anyone else could look as good when they got to his age.
Everybody got a kick out of that, and once the laughter subsided, Matt led them into “Song For The Sick And Hopeless” with his tranquil intro to the song. A couples skate followed it, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it was any slower than their previous music, and before getting it going Pete told everyone at the back to, “…Get your dick out of your hand and come up front.”, and some of the people met the request.
As things wound down, they did another killer song (one of my favorites they did), before hitting one that Pete noted was a favorite of his to do, “Girls That Fight Are Beautiful”. His guttural screams of “…Take this and start a fight…” near the end really help accentuate the track, which is a true beast. Afterwards, they had just one left, and Ben began dishing out the hefty beats that open up “Kill The Headlights And Drive”, which concluded the night nicely.
They may not have had the biggest crowd of the night, but those who were there left wowed by White Elephant, who is one of those bands that never ceases to amaze.
The raw energy they pack into their performance is something else completely, with Josh and Matt really throwing down, and Ben was even better worked in than he had been the last time I saw them, absolutely killing it on the drums. As for Pete, he could easily run circles around frontmen half his age, and has a very potent stage presence that, in combination with the rest of the group, will make sure your eyes never leave the stage until they play the final note of the last song.
Their next show is going to be on October 25th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and check out their debut EP on their BANDCAMP page.
I know Pro Rehearsals has put on a few showcases at the Curtain over the years, but this was the first one I’ve attended, and I must say, they know how to put together a great show with some fine talent.
It had been just a little over a month since DFW Undercover put on their first showcase which featured some acoustic singer/songwriters, and this night, they were ready to turn it up a few notches.
They had put together a full-blown rock show at Hailey’s this night, which doubled as a birthday bash.
I got there a little late, just barely missing the first band, Vandfald, who quickly got their gear off stage as Manny the Martyr began the process of setting up.
Before they started, Bill Pierce of DFW Undercover got on stage to thank everyone for coming out and try (to no avail) to get the people over by the bar to come into the showroom. He also introduced his wife, saying, “…She just turned eighteen. Yes, I like ‘em young.” he joked (this was her “dirty thirty” birthday bash.) He bantered with the audience for a few moments longer, then ceded the stage over to the band.
The 42-minute long set was easily the longest of the night, encompassing old and new songs from their forthcoming album, one of those being the bouncy opener “Aydagee”. It literally had some of the band bouncing around, too, guitarist Mike Ubben and frontman Jake Cravens jumping as they spun around in circles at times, and it was that fun and energetic demeanor that got so much of the crowd ensnared in their live show.
Drummer Joel Simka segued the end of that song into their next one with a few smooth beats, and upon finishing it they did one that Jake said was a little more personal to him. Once they knocked that one out, they ran into a technical difficulty, or rather Brad Green did while trying to tune his guitar. It easily could have turned into a few minutes of possible awkward silence, but thanks to bassist Jayson Vaughn, that didn’t happen. He proceeded to riff on his bass, doing a sweet little solo, eventually being joined by Joel, and even Mike added a few notes, too.
Jake noted that was not planned, even joking(?) that, that was how they came up with the closing parts for all their other tracks. “Some of you may not know this…” he said, mentioning they had recently wrapped up recording their first ever full-length record, and now they were going to do the single from it. “It’s called Left Over Sexy.” Jake informed everyone, as they busted out another stellar song.
They followed it up with what was somewhat of a treat, being a song from their debut EP, “The Aqua Lung”, which Jake pointed out they hadn’t done in awhile. “DDJ” was the song, and like all their others it’s a very interesting and unique blend of rock, pop and reggae, and is possibly one of the best tracks that EP has to offer.
Once it was done, Jake picked up where Bill Pierce had left off, again trying to get the bar flies over into the show room area, and still had no luck at it. That didn’t affect anyone’s mood, though, and they only worked things into more of a frenzy with their next song, and afterwards did a “brand, brand new” one. “We wrote this five minutes before the show.” joked Jake, saying the song was called “DFW Undercover Rocks”. Everyone was anxiously waiting to hear it, when Jake added, “That’s it. That was the song.”
He was pretty good at the wisecracks, and after doing a killer new jam, “Sink or Swim”, he made another. “This song’s about smoking.” he said, setting up “Bougyman”. “And if for even a second you thought I meant cigarettes, than this song is not for you.” he finished. It’s one of the most reggae sounding songs they do, from the music bed to the style Jake sings it in, making it pretty authentic, and they even got the audience to sing along for part of it.
With six minutes left in their set, they went ahead and ended it, closing with the final song from their first EP, “Hit the Brink”.
Even though it was a very full performance, the crowd was left hungry for more, and clearly loved every single second the band had spent on stage.
That’s one of the charms they have, being able to reel most people in easily with their signature sound and explosive live show. It really is very captivating, and I think they were even better this time around then the first time when I saw them, Jake doing some different things with his voice on a couple of songs, screaming at times in a manner that could compete with some metal bands.
For those like me who missed the first act, Manny the Martyr offered a very fun start to the night, and made sure it be hard to top, too.
You can check out the band’s debut EP on their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can download it (plus some live cuts) for free. As for their next record, you’ll have a chance to get it on December 7th when they celebrate their CD release show at the Curtain Club in Dallas.
The stage was vacant after they got their gear off, as the ears of all the attendees were about to get a break, and the next act was more visually stimulating.
It was a performance from the Whiskey Tongue Burlesque troupe, which featured Tippsy Cupps and the Pumpkin Patch Revue.
I’m not in the business of reviewing burlesque shows, but I will say all the performers (most of whom did two routines) were entertaining to watch, making it a little dark at times, though it was definitely fun overall.
It broke up the night well, and once the ladies finished their performance, it was time for the last band of the night.
Idler was closing out this show, doing their final show of the year, and they had a decent amount of fans who came out to see them one more time in 2013.
This show also saw the band getting back to basics, with frontman Micah Frank focusing solely on being a frontman, rather than acting as the rhythm guitarist as he has at their more recent shows.
However, Ritchie Rangel took the stage before any of his other band mates, blazing through a rip-roaring drum solo on his sizable drum kit, the remaining five members filing on stage as it trailed off.
They began with one of the newer tracks they’ve cooked up for their next record, “Underneath Me”, which was largely sung by frontwoman Katie Frank, her brother adding the occasional backing vocals in the mix while he banged his head around to the music. Mykey O’Neil also had a sweet guitar solo during that one.
“This next one’s called Vendetta.” Micah informed everyone, before they started the intense rocker with the awesome chorus, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end. I wrote it all down to come back and then rub your face in this.”, which he belts out with a certain amount of anger in his voice. It was soon followed by another song of their self-titled EP, “Go for Broke”, which was the song this night that really showcased what a finely tuned band Idler is. The siblings traded off on vocal duties incredible precision, backing each other up at times, while Katie handled parts of the chorus, all of it being very fluid.
Another song that they co-sang and features some nice vocal work is “Lose Control”, which came next, and once they finished it the band started chatting amongst themselves and the crowd. Somehow, (as a joke) everyone began booing guitarist Nick Laracuente, who was doing a excellent job on the guitar by the way, having previously been the bands bass player, while they have since added a new bassist to the lineup. But I digress. It was all a joke, especially since his band members were egging on the boos, and afterwards Micah tried to see how far he could take it, asking the crowd to chant, “Hey”, which didn’t pan out.
They continued barreling through their 32-minute set with a personal favorite of mine, “Kings and Queens”, before getting to their much loved cover song. Perhaps the best thing about it was how it started, Micah suddenly transitioning from talking to the crowd to hitting that falsetto note that starts the Kenny Loggins classic, “Highway To The Danger Zone”. His band mates soon joined in, and he and Katie again shared the singing responsibilities, which is exactly what makes their cover of that song so unique.
It’s a definite standout, and so, too, is their original, “Pitchfork”, and sticking with the idea of saving the best for last, they wrapped tings up with one more new one, “Cigarette”, which gives all their other material a real run for its money.
Out of the handful of times I’ve seen Idler, this was easily the best show I’ve caught yet. A main reason for that is because of how they have returned to their roots, and while the fact that they use a male and female vocalist is a big thing that sets them apart from other bands, an equally as big part was that Micah and Katie were a frontman and frontwoman, respectively. And their live show has been kicked up a few notches now that he’s no longer the guitarist.
This was a great show for Idler to end the year on, and I’ll bet that when they make their comeback in 2014, they’ll be better than ever.
So, until then, head over to iTUNES and pick up a copy of their EP, “Idler”, and you can also get that cover tune they do for FREE HERE.
It was a great night at Hailey’s, and compared to the last few times I’d been to the venue, the place was packed, which was good to see.
Kudos to DFW Undercover for putting together such an awesome and unique show this night, and while the bands did differ in style, they meshed well, and kept everyone watching entertained. Be sure to hit up their OFFICIAL WEBSITE & their YOUTUBE CHANNEL to watch the interviews they’ve done with some local artists, and I must say, I’m already curious and looking forward to what their next showcase is going to be like.
It had been over a year and a half since I last saw the Austin based folk outfit Wild Child in Dallas (having caught them at SXSW earlier this year), and this night was going to be a big one for the band.
Two days prior to this show at the Prophet Bar, the band released their highly anticipated sophomore record, “The Runaround”, making this the Dallas CD release show for the new album, and their Dallas fans were ready to partake in the festivities.
The lone opening act on this show was Prophets and Outlaws, who played a mix of new and old songs during their 39-minutes on stage, along with some covers.
It was one of those newer songs that they opened with, before doing a song that singer and guitarist Matt Boggs said was their “ode to Elvis”. It was the shorter “Honey Child”, which certainly could have gotten a lot of hips shaking about, though there were only a handful of people up front actually dancing to the soulful, bluesy song. Next came one of their covers, and it was a well known classic, made famous by The Band.
They did a brilliant rendition of “The Weight”, utilizing every vocalist in the band, which was most of them. Drummer James Guckenheimer, bassist Matt Murrow, guitarist Stevie G and keyboard player Jamie Ringholm all sang a different verse of the song, coming together and harmonizing on the chorus, along with Matt, even doing it in rounds to add a distinctive flare to it.
“Do y’all want to hear a brand new song?” Matt asked the decently sized crowd, though most of them seemed indifferent to it. All the same, they rolled things right along into a new one, and after another track, they broke out another cover. I believe it was a version of Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, with a little more of a rock spin on it, and Matt has a certain quality to his voice that allowed them to pull it off.
“This is our best one, in my opinion.” Matt stated before they broke into the lead track from their self-titled debut EP, “Soul Shop”, a rather relaxing song. “We’re gonna need some howls on this next one.” said Matt, noting it was a newer song they were thinking about releasing around Halloween. A few of the onlookers answered his request, doing a wolf howl once or twice during the song, and once it was finished they had just enough time left for one more tune.
I’ll say that for what they do, Prophets and Outlaws pull of the style exceedingly well. However, after seeing this full band show and an acoustic one a few months back, I have to say that their music just isn’t what I care for.
It just doesn’t grab me and strike a chord in me or anything. That’s all relative, though, and if you like a mix of soul and blues, that have slightly more of a country sound, then this is definitely the band for you.
They have two EP’s you can check out and purchase in iTUNES. As for shows, they tend to keep fairly busy, and on October 31st they’ll be at the City Tavern in Dallas, with a show on November 1st at Grotto Live in McKinney. For more tour dates, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE.
They hastily cleared their gear off, while Wild Child began the process of setting up, and by the time they were ready to go, singer and baritone ukulele player Alexander Beggins asked for everyone to get a little closer. Apparently, the band has made a lot of area fans since I first saw them, as the majority of the people who were scattered around the bar and elsewhere made their way right up front.
They began with a joke, though it didn’t start out that way as singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson first mentioned how early they had to be up this morning in order to perform on one of the local morning shows on one of the TV stations. She pointed out getting up that early made her want to punch people, but she did alright, only punching one news woman. “…But she only made it through the first half inch of her makeup…” Alexander chimed in, the crowd, along with his band mates erupting in laughter.
That was a great way to break the ice, and with there being no way to top that, they promptly started the show with the title track and lead song from this new album, “The Runaround”, a very fun song that got everyone moving around at least a little. “How are you doing this fine Thursday eve?” Alexander asked the fans, which spurred a conversation between band mates as Kelsey stated she always hopes it really is Thursday when he asks that question.
After bantering (mainly) amongst themselves for a moment, they got back to the music, hitting their more tender side with the second track on the record, “Victim to Charm”. The violin and cello, which was played by Sadie Wolfe, worked together harmoniously at the start of that one, “Dear, don’t be alarmed, as I trace the freckles on your porcelain arm…” Alexander sang softly into the mic. It’s a beautiful line for an equally beautiful song, that also featured some nice harmonies from the two vocalists.
Those new ones were well received, though the fans almost turned into rabid animals when Kelsey said they were going to do some old ones, clearly eager to hear the ones they knew and loved. That collective mood of excitement shot through the roof as Alexander played the opening notes of “The Escape”, the audience singing right along with Kelsey and Alexander, whose voices layered over each other’s nicely. “Lost my breath, I’m feeling weak, my bones escape my skin…” everybody sang, the fans obviously ecstatic that this favorite of theirs was still in the setlist. They took things down a few notches with “Silly Things”, and while the rhythm section was lighter, it was still pretty powerful, Chris D’Annunzio lightly plucking the strings of his bass, which caused the floor to vibrate at times. The crowd again proved their love for Wild Child and their music, loudly singing along to the final line, “…Come get your coffee pot, ‘cause it hasn’t been used since I last used you.”
The band appeared a bit surprised by all the love they were getting, and now pointed out that this was the first crowd they had played to since “The Runaround” came out just two days prior to this. And now, having done the first two tracks from both their new and old albums, it was time to get back to some newer stuff with the first single from “The Runaround”.
Kelsey informed anyone who didn’t know that they had just released a music video for the song “Crazy Bird”, saying it was “weird”, which could be a big understatement. However, while the video is weird, the song itself is not, and both will leave a lasting impression on you. It was fun and upbeat, being an irresistible song that will immediately put you in a happy mood.
Speaking of happy mood, Kelsey said they had picked up a new motto from their friends in Prophets and Outlaws backstage. “You can only have as much fun as you want to have.” she said, Alexander adding those were “words of wisdom”. It is true, and they and the crowd were prepared to have as much fun as possible this night, and not much could be more fun than a “butt grabbing song”, which was exactly what Kelsey said t he next one was. Not much of that was going on as they busted out another slow one, “This Place”, though, Evan Magers adding some soft, subtle notes from his keyboard at parts, while Carey McGraw kept a slow and steady beat going on the drums.
That slow tune transitioned well into “Stitches”, which at first didn’t come across as what Kelsey said was their “new favorite party song”, but once it got going, it clearly was a fitting party tune. As soon as it concluded they seamlessly launched into another old one, “Bridges Burning”, the audience echoing along with Kelsey, “…Wait for me, I want you to wait for me…” “Y’all are tripping me out!” she exclaimed after finishing the song, still seeming a bit baffled by all the love. The audience was then presented with a choice of either getting a new fast one or an old fast one, which was “Cocaine Hurricane”. It was unanimous, and the choice was that old fan favorite, which is still a highlight of their shows.
Their 53-minute long set was nearing its end, and they still had a couple more new ones to do, one of which was the instant classic, “Living Tree”. “You guys are my favorite people in the whole wide world.” remarked Kelsey after they finished the song, still overwhelmed by it all, and they began to wind things down with the final track on the new album, “Left Behind”.
There was only one fitting way to close to the show, though, and that was with the final number from 2011’s “Pillow Talk”, the haunting, “Tale of You & Me”. “Sleep good and hold tight. Just know that’ll make it right.” the whole band shouted repeatedly at the end, creating the greatest sing along moment of the night, the entire crowd joining them, making for the best possible end to what was surely Wild Child’s best Dallas show yet.
This was quite the night, and Wild Child is quite the band. The duel vocalists and the way they constantly change things up, from both Kelsey and Alexander singing lead, to incorporating some dynamic harmonies and even singing in time with one another are what make them standout so much. And while those two do tend to be the main focus of the show, the rest of the group is of course just as vital a part, and contribute a lot to the energy they have.
On that note, it was their older songs that they did that were the most cohesive and flawless. That’s nothing against their new material, but you could tell those oldies had been performed hundreds of times over and they’d developed such chemistry for them, while some of the newer ones they still haven’t worked out all the movements.
In the end, though, it’s easy to see why the band just performed at Austin City Limits (doing a gig at the festival a couple days after this Dallas date), and why they’re creating such buzz. And the way folk music is becoming such a big thing currently in mainstream music, and given the unique and fresh spin Wild Child puts on their tunes, it’s believable that they have a shot at making it.
Wild Child will be on the road until the end of the year, doing shows from the East Coast to the West Coast and several states in between, and for all those dates go HERE. And do check out both of their albums in iTUNES, and if you dig ‘em, definitely buy them.
This weekend was going to be spent in Fort Worth, and originally, I planned on seeing the Toadies this night as they kicked off the sixth edition of their music festival. Then I happened to check the show calendar for one Hayes Carll, only to see he was going to be playing at Billy Bob’s Texas this same night.
That show had already won out beforehand, but was only made better when I happened to score a pair of tickets via a contest Hayes did on Twitter a few hours before the show.
I had only been to Billy Bob’s once before, to see the aforementioned band, actually, and the set up this night was much different this time around. The substantial floor in front of the stage, which was completely empty on my first trip here, was now filled with seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as possible from side to side and front to back. I assume this is probably how Billy Bob’s typically is, when they don’t have a rock band playing that could bring some rowdy fans.
It was a nice setup, and I was glad to find out that not only were there seats, but also what a good spot they were, being in the second row back from the stage and a little to the left of it.
It was a little after the 10:30 scheduled start time when someone there from Billy Bob’s got on stage and welcomed everyone to the show, plugging some of their other events while also noting what a big Hayes Carll fan he was, and how excited he was for the show. Once that business had been taking care of, he then welcomed the man of the hour to the stage, as Hayes Carll and his Gulf Coast Orchestra took the stage.
Hays got things going by plucking the strings of his acoustic guitar, slowly giving the first song shape, before singing the first line of “The Letter”. “I meet some wild people out here, those who are pretending and others more sincere…” he crooned on the seemingly appropriate opener that’s somewhat about his journeys on the road.
Upon finishing it, he officially announced who they were. “…All the way from Austin, welcome Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra.” Hayes said loudly as whipped into “Faulkner Street”. His Gulf Coast Orchestra got to step it more with this song, particularly Scott who no longer had to gently play his lap steel guitar, and electric guitarist Travis was able to cut loose on a brief solo or two. They moved right along to the next song, the crowd cheering after the first few chords that Hayes played. He then softened his playing, “I have two songs that start this way. I hope it’s the one y’all want to hear.” he said to the sizable audience. I believe it was the one fans were most excited to hear, and that was one of the fan favorites from the “Trouble in Mind” record, “Girl Downtown”. It had much of the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and it was also the first of a few consecutive numbers that found Travis holding the side of his guitar against him, picking at it as if it were a lap steel, while I believe Scott switched over to an electric guitar.
Even though they were only a few songs in, they had been knocking them out left and right, but now it was time for a story, as Hayes mentioned his hometown on the Texas coast, which was around Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, and it got a roaring applause from everyone. “…That’s the loudest applause Crystal Beach has ever gotten.” He said while laughing. He talked about a variety of things down there, but the central focus was one Bob’s Grill and World Famous Sports Bar, a club he used to play, which he said had a “misleading” name. “…The whole place was probably about as big as this stage is…” he said, adding that no one who was currently in attendance would have been there. He then backtracked slightly, “Well, you two might have been, but you would have been watching a fishing tournament or something.” He stated he was a bit of a wonder down there, being the only person who could both play a guitar and sing at the same time, so he quickly made a name for himself and started picking up more and more shows. “…My show at Jeannie’s One led to my show at Jeannie’s Two, which was a bait shop located right behind Jeannie’s One…” he said, while rattling off a few other venues.
He then wound things back to Bob’s, which was owned by (of course) Bob, who, as Hayes put it, “…was a drug dealer.” He went on to say he bought some exotic animals with his profits from selling drugs, “…But the prized possession in his collection was a African Lion.” said Hayes, adding that there was a window behind the stage at Bob’s, and when Hayes played there, Bob would often bring the Lion’s cage there and place it behind the window. He continued own, mentioning that Hurricane Ike had devastated the area a few years back, but before it hit, Bob did “the Christian thing” and let all of his animals loose to give them a fighting chance. “Now, instinctually, that lion went to higher ground…” Hays told everyone, with higher ground happening to be a church, a church which some people also took refuge in, entering only to see a lion already in there. “…It was three days before the National Guard could get in there to assist everyone, so for three days those people were on one side of the church, while the lion was on the other… Like a sort of redneck Life of Pi…” he added. “Now, the reason for that long winded explanation is because this next song has a line about a lion tamer, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused.” he pointed out.
The intro alone to “I Got a Gig” had an excellent sound, with one of the guitarists starting first, while the other followed suit shortly after. Oddly enough, it gave it somewhat of a haunting sound, but was soon broken when the rhythm section, bassist Cody and drummer Mark, as well as Hayes joined in. And that explanation does indeed help the song make a little more sense, as he sings on the third verse, “There’s an old lion tamer parked behind the bar, a hundred pounds of weed in a stolen car…”.
They then slowed things down as Hayes led them directly into “Rivertown”, a personally favorite of mine from the “Little Rock” record, and one I was ecstatic to hear them do. “…And time will bring you down, time make you cold. I turned my back some time ago, and now I’m going home…” he sang on the rather somber track, before they immediately picked the mood back up with the title track from that 2005 release. Both Scott and Travis used an electric guitar for “Little Rock”, a very rocking number, and while they were doing more intense songs, it only made sense to the title track from his most recent release, but first, it was time for some more witty banter.
“This song’s about a soldier who has a morphine induced coma…” Hayes informed everyone, then outlined all the things that happen in “KMAG YOYO” as being hallucinations from the drug. The funny part came when he said he has young singer/songwriters ask him what the formula is to have a hit song in the Top 40 country charts. “…Some people write songs as a story…” he said, also giving a few other examples of writing styles, calling them “irrelevant”. “…The thing you need in your songs is keywords. See, I know this, obviously.” he said, in perfect deadpan humor. He went on to say, “…I usually teach a seminar about this…”, before telling anyone who wanted to learn a thing or two to grab a pencil and some paper. “Those keywords are…” he said, then preceded to list off “Taliban”, “IED, or any other acronym you can think of”, “Trucks” and “Spring break” were some of the words he said every song needed to have to be a hit, and once he had dropped that knowledge on everybody, they ripped into the very rhyme based “KMAG YOYO”. Scott truly got to show off his chops as a guitarist on that one, killing it on the guitar solos, even embellishing them from how they are on the record, subsequently giving it even more rip-roaring action.
There was just enough of a pause to allow the audience to applaud them, while Travis took a seat behind the pedal steel guitar, finally putting it to use on the gloomy “Chances Are”. Things got a little more uplifting after that semi depressing track when Hayes announced the next song was (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this) “drunks, and the women who love them.” Between that and pointing out that it was one he had co-written with Ray Wiley Hubbard, the fans knew exactly what song it was, loudly cheering for “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, which featured Travis on the mandolin. They didn’t let up, segueing it right into the next one. “I haven’t done this one in awhile, let’s see if I can remember the lyrics.” said Hayes before he started spitting out the lines of “Down the Road Tonight”. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with the words, and probably around halfway through the song they lightened up on the playing, allowing Hayes to formally introduce each of his band mates. Once he had done so, he left the stage, leaving Mark, Cody, Travis and Scott to do an instrumental jam, and quite a great job at it, at that.
After a minute or two, Hayes returned as they finished out the song, “Jukebox gypsies, mustang sally’s, don’t go walkin’ down dark alleys…”.
Most of his band left after it, leaving just he and Scott on stage, with Hayes informing everyone he was going to do a new song from his upcoming album, due out “…In the spring… Of 2017.” he joked. This was one he wrote about his son, who told him he wanted to be a magician. “Not a musician, a magician.” Hayes reiterated. He mentioned that’s a hard thing, because “…you see a life full of suffering ahead…” for your child, even saying his son wasn’t very good at first, and he would tell him when he was doing tricks for him that he could see what he was doing. “…But he didn’t listen to me or any of the other naysayers…” Hayes said, adding he had recently even become a member of the Austin Association of Magicians, an accomplishment that received some applause from the crowd. “You’ve heard of them?!” Hayes jokingly said, with surprise in his voice. He went on to say that his son is “…the youngest member, by about fifty years or so…” and they meet every other week “…At the IHOP, right by my house.” he finished.
There was an overall meaning to that story, though, as Hayes said he wished he had, had that spirit and determination his son does when he was his age, pointing out that everyone could benefit from picking what they really want to do and doing it, if only it were that simple. “…I hope he never loses that.” he said in closing. The song is called “The Magic Kid”, and it’s a sweet song with a message that everyone could take to heart, as he sings a few different times during it, “Who we are is who we are. Why is that so hard to be?”
While acoustic, it was a good change of pace from the other slower songs which dealt more with heartache, and as the Gulf Coast Orchestra filed back out on stage, Hayes again lightened up the mood by saying the next song was about license plates.
He named a few states and their slogans, like how Oklahoma is the OK state. “I like that, they’re like, “We’re not great, but we’re ok.” He said, and after mentioning North Carolina’s, he joked that that South Carolina’s was, “We wish we were North Carolina.” Talk then turned to the “Live Free or Die” state, New Hampshire, which Hayes said he felt was the best motto, eventually wrapping things up by saying how horrible it would be to be in prison in that state, having to make license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”. “…If you all listen to the third verse of this song, we might learn something tonight.” he told the audience before pulling out a track from his debut album, “Live Free or Die”. It was a humorous song, and that lesson he mentioned, well, it was, “…So if you catch your wife with another man, it’s best to hold off as long as you can. Then shoot him in another state where they got a different license plate.” That is just another example of what a brilliant writer Hayes is (and evidently always has been.)
“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” came next, albeit a much different rendition than that which you hear on “Trouble in Mind”. Hayes used a harmonica on parts of it, doing a very scaled back acoustic version of it. Personally, I am more of a fan of the album version, probably ‘cause I’m a rock fan first and foremost, but even acoustic the song sounds really good. Fitting with that tone was “Hard Out Here”, which again saw Travis playing the pedal steel. In what I’m guessing is typical fashion, Hayes added some additional lyrics near the end of the song, drawing from experiences on the road, as recently as that day.
He spoke it more than singing, telling the audience of how they played a show in Marfa the night before, and didn’t get to bed until about five in the morning. He continued by saying the hotel room was infested with various bugs and such, like a tarantula, which happened to be in his bed. So, after (literally) a couple hours of sleep, he said he and his band mates woke up and got in the van to head to Fort Worth, only to discover their van had broke down, resulting in some of them riding in an Impala to the show, while the others drove a U-Haul with the gear loaded in it. Such is the life of a touring musician.
Soon after finishing it, they pulled out another blistering number, “Stomp and Holler”, which was a signal that they were at the tail end of their performance, and they wound it pretty fluidly into “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Then, to wrap things up, they did the one song I had anxiously been waiting to hear since they first got on stage, “Beaumont”. That beautiful, straightforward love song about the feeling not being mutual was a perfect way to close things out, and that’s actually one of the few songs I’ve heard any band do that works well as both an opener and a closer (Hayes opened with it at a Dallas venue a few months back).
By the time that was all said and done, they had been on stage for an impressive 90-minutes, leaving me wondering if there even would be an encore or not.
Everyone was hoping for one, though, making sure the band knew it, too, by chanting “Hayes!” repeatedly. It had only been a minute or so since they had left when they made their way back out, Travis picking up the mandolin, while Scott was finally going to use the accordion. “I say this every night, but I would do this every night rather anyone shows up or not, but it’s sure a lot more fun when you do.” he said to everyone before embarking on a 12-minute encore portion. It was nearly impossible not to smile as they ran through the upbeat and incredibly catchy “Bottle in My Hand”, before an electric guitar and the lap steel were put back to work for “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”. They had one last song left for anyone, another one that came from “KMAG YOYO”, “The Lovin’ Cup”, offering a good, upbeat way to call it a night, and after again thanking everyone for coming out, Hayes and the Gulf Coast Orchestra retreated back stage.
It was a fantastic show with a nice selection of songs from all of his releases, hitting just about every song the fans were wanting to hear and then some.
This was only the third time I’ve seen him live, and it was definitely the best, due mostly to the song selection in this lengthy set.
Hayes is a true entertainer, in terms of a singer and songwriter in the witty and/or honest songs he writes and the almost non-stop doses of laughs he adds to the live performance. So, if you want to see a very enjoyable and memorable show, go see Hayes Carll.
For a list of his tour dates, go HERE. He’s staying pretty busy through the end of September, with a few dates in the Mid-West and the East Coast, and will n doubt be announcing some more shows throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned. And to check out/purchase his music, head over to iTUNES.
It was a very fun night at Billy Bob’s, and at least now I can say I’ve seen a legitimate country show at the world’s largest honky tonk.
A Tuesday night is a bit of an odd night for a show. At least it is in most towns, but not Denton, where the venues in the college town regularly host bands on any given night of the week. And making this show a little more special was the fact that the old Denton residents, now Austinites, known as the Riverboat Gamblers were kicking off their summer tour.
I had heard of the Gamblers quite awhile back, but had never seen them live until nearly a year ago down in New Braunfels at the Dia de los Toadies music festival, and since then had anxiously been waiting for them to hit the D/FW area.
Rubber Gloves was hosting the show, providing a more intimate setting to see the band in, though it seemed near impossible to reach the venue, which is right next to some train tracks, and a train was just sitting there on the tracks. Not being a Denton local, I don’t know my way around well enough to have figured out a back roads approach, which meant I waited nearly an hour before the thing finally got off the tracks.
By that time the first band had just finished, and the next band quickly set their gear up. They weren’t the next act, though. Instead, Mike Wiebe of the Riverboat Gambler got up on stage and announced they were doing something they seldom do, and that was have a comedian do a set, and then welcomed his friend on stage.
His name was John Tole, and I’m not in the business of reviewing comedians, so I won’t him. However, I will say I found him to be funny as hell. Nothing seemed to be off limits in his short little set, and that included making fun of himself, from his weight to his appearance. The humor was largely, shall we say, “adult”, and although it at times made you cringe, it was impossible not to laugh.
Great comedian, and definitely one I’d like to see again sometime.
At 10:35, the next band took the stage, and that was Blacklist Royals, who were from Nashville, Tennessee, and were touring with the Riverboat Gamblers.
During their 38-minute long set, the quartet played an array of songs, new and old, first playing a couple newer ones back-to-back. They had a bit of a punk rock sound (and look), and sped through those first two songs, before their singer and rhythm guitarist addressed the crowd briefly. “Things They Say” was one of several songs they did from their debut album “Semper Liberi”, and then did a couple more new ones which were bled into one another, and one of those was the title track of their next album, “Die Young with Me”. With some feedback emitting from the bass and guitars, they swirled it into “Rock and Roll”, which certainly seemed to embody the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit.
Things then took a more serious turn, even hitting a somber note,when the singer stated that he wrote the next song about a fried who had passed away in recent years. It was pretty heavy, but that realness it captured was what made it such a fantastic song, one of the best of their show in my opinion. They rolled it right into another one, and after finishing it joked about how the Riverboat Gamblers fan demographic was not women, though there were a few in attendance, and the singer said something along the lines of, “You look good.” “…This next one’s a brand new one. We’ve never even played it before.” He said, before the group launched into a song that I believe was called “She’s the One”. This may have been its live debut, but they seemed pretty polished while playing it, and if he hadn’t have said that in the first place, I would have figured they had played it several times over before. The drummer transitioned them into their next track, “White Line Fever”, before they switched things up a bit, with the lead guitarist and bass player leaving the stage. “…This song’s about my hometown in my home state… Which is a long way from here.” The singer announced, performing the song solo, before they kicked things back up with another song or two.
Before wrapping up their set, the singer mentioned the merch they had for sale at the back, joking about it not being all riches while out on the road, even teasing that the bass player had to take out a loan just to afford the shirt he had on. “…He ruined his credit, but at least he looks good.” he said, getting a laugh from everyone. “…Sing it if you know it!” he later shouted, before singing the first line of the very patriotic “American Hearts”, “There’s an American heart, reckless and wild…”
That song brought their time on stage to a roaring finish, and while the Blacklist Royals didn’t have nearly as many eyes on them as they deserved, they did seem to make fans out of everyone who was watching, myself included.
Like I said, their music had a real punk flare to it, in the sense that it was fast and rather aggressive. However, after listening to their first album, I get a real [Bruce] Springsteen-esque vibe from them. Not in the musical style so much, but just in the fact that the Blacklist Royals songs tell actual stories that can strike a chord with people, while embodying the American spirit.
In listening to their stuff, it’s easy to see why they have toured so extensively over the last few years, both nationally and internationally, and they no doubt keep winning over new fans wherever they play.
Head over to iTUNES and give their record a listen, or even buy it, and stay tuned for their next record. And if you get a chance to see them live, you should definitely take it. You can find all their tour dates right HERE.
Now, it was finally time for the Riverboat Gamblers. The large crowd had packed in the showroom early in anticipation of the band, and people got even closer to the stage when drummer Sam Keir and bassist Rob Marchant made their way on stage. They got things going with some heavy beats and riffs, a prelude to the chaotic blitz that was to come, and kept it going while the remaining members took the stage.
Front man Mike Wiebe, guitarists Fadi El-Assad and Ian MacDougall and Rob then proceeded to clap, getting most everyone involved before they tore into their first number, “Rattle Me Bones”. That fast paced tune had everyone moving around, a mosh pit erupting at the front of the stage, while those who didn’t want to partake moved back to where it was safe. The band instantly got into show mode, and Mike continuously walked to the edge of the stage, leaning forward and falling out at the crowd, causing the moshers to stop, catching him, sometimes before his feet even left the stage as they simply pushed him back up. It was quite cool, and something he did constantly throughout the show.
As the song neared the end, he ran over to stage right, grabbed part of the curtain and ripped it from the wall (in fairness it’s not attached all that well), while Sam transitioned them into their next song. The adrenaline kept flowing as they launched into the lead track from 2012’s “The Wolf You Feed” album, “Good Veins”. “…You knew what I was before you fell in love. I’ve got bad blood you’ve got good veins…” shouted Mike, while his band mates often added some backing around him, adding a good layer to it and the majority of theirs other songs this night.
“…We pound these guitars like jackhammers!” Mike exclaimed as they took a very short timeout to tune up before getting back to business with “Bite My Tongue”. Ian, Rob and Fadi continued thrashing about while shredding on their instruments, as Mike hurriedly paced about the stage, at one point jumping up and grabbing the main support beam on the ceiling (which was just a few feet above his head), and hung from it for a few seconds. At this point, Mike noted that he and Fadi grew up in Denton. “…A lot has changed since then. Like, apparently now trains can just park on the tracks for as long as they want…” he joked. He went on to say they had moved off nearly ten years ago, but were now going to do a song they wrote while they still lived in Denton. “…Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I want to play for you all a song from a record called Something to Crow About. It’s called Save You!” he roared as they exploded into what ended up being a sing along.
They kept on drawing from that now ten year old record, segueing things directly into “Hey! Hey! Hey!”, and soon after taped one of their more recent releases, doing the quick song “DissDissDissKissKissKiss”. As it neared the end, Mike left the stage, winding his way through the audience, and best I could tell even left the showroom, working his way into the bar area. The instrumentalists kept right on going, bleeding the music bed perfectly into their current single, “Blue Ghosts”. Ian handled the backing vocals at the start of the song, before Mike seemed to suddenly re-materialize, making his way back on stage, not missing a line of the song. Upon finishing it, they churned on one last quick song, “Death by Stereo”, before gearing up for what would come next.
Mike decided to get up close and personal with everyone for the next song, dragging the mic stand out into the crowd, everyone in the general area dispersing, giving him enough room while still circling around him to watch. The audience sang along to “Comedians” while the band cranked it out. I was one of the lucky few who was as close as possible for this, and at one point my hat got lifted as Mike put it on himself (I’m sure that has to up its value to at least 25 to 30 bucks), but the best part came when he continued to search for more antics to pull. He walked over to one side of the room where a folding chair sat, and once he moved it the sound of glass shattering could be heard. He then put the chair around him, the seat resting on his back, while he held the top of it so the bar wouldn’t choke him. It made for a crazy good and memorable moment.
Ian, Fadi, Rob and Sam moved right along into “The Ol’ Smash and Grab”, and Mike rejoined them moments later. As I said, he had often stepped off the stage this night, allowing the fans to catch him, but he did a full-blown stage dive during that song. No advanced warning or anything, just leapt into the air without fear of falling, and sure enough, everyone’s arms shot up in the air, catching him without fail. Once that tune came to an end, Mike joked that he needed everyone’s approval, and he’d appreciate it if people “wooed” along with him, leading the swarm of fans in shouting “Woo!” a few times over. Soon after they tackled “Keep Me From Drinking”, though it was the following song that was a standout of the night. “This song is very fast!” said Mike before they burst into “The Song We Used to Call Wasting Time”. He wasn’t lying, and the lightning fast paced rhythm section incited another mosh pit, and almost on the same level of quickness was another track from “To The Confusion of Our Enemies”, “Rent is Due”.
That unrelenting approach of diving from one song to the next was working incredibly well for them. And even when they did stop, it usually wasn’t for long, like now, when Mike mentioned how great their newest record was. “…That’s not me being cocky, either. Jesus told me so.” he said, setting up the glorious “Heart Conditions”. Their set was nearing the end now, but before getting to their last batch of songs, Mike told everyone a story, beginning with them driving down University earlier in the day, making him recall his youth.
“…I don’t want to sound like that guy who says things were better in my day or things are better now…” he said at the start, mentioning how earlier in the day he had seen a kid on a skateboard crossing the highway. I should note I don’t remember the whole story verbatim, but he went on to say back in his day you had to watch out for “cowboys” and such. He went on to say he had a run in with one of these cowboys at the Arby’s (which he noted was something else now), when one walked up to him and asked him a unintelligible question. “…At first I thought he was asking if I wanted any sausages, and I didn’t know how to answer that question…” Mike said, then added he found out the guy was asking him, “Do you want to start any shit?!”, to which he said he replied “No.” and then went home. That story got quite a few laughs, while the next part got the applause, when he said several years ago, he had met some very good friends, and a few years later they began playing friends house parties. And now, they tour the country and the world together.
No sooner had he said that then they tore into “True Crime”, before unleashing the monster of a song that is “On Again, Off Again”. They kept drawing from their 2006 record, doing “Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead Yet”, which is nothing short of an anthem (an excellent one at that) and again at the crowd going wild. It was a fitting way to end their set, though they weren’t quite done yet, and Mike summed up the whole encore process. “…We can go out back for a few minutes while y’all chant for us to come back…” he said, “…Or we can do one fucking amazing song right now, and then all meet up at the bar.” The fans chose the latter option, skipping all the BS and getting right to the point. “…This one’s called The Art of Getting Fucked Over!” declared Mike, before they started the final song of their 55-minute set. He got back out in the crowd again on this one, grabbing the chair from earlier (the same one he placed around him), standing on it this time around. “I want to see the slowest circle pit ever around me.” He commanded, the audience pushing in as they began to encircle him. Next he said he wanted to see everyone’s hands on the backs of the people in front of them, giving them a little massage. Everyone did just that, chanting along with him towards the end, “G-A-M-B-L-E-R.” The tame circle pit suddenly sprang to life when the song picked back up, the people scattering and slamming against one another as it became a full-fledged mosh pit, and was an epic way to end what had been an epic performance.
The most enthralling quality the Riverboat Gamblers have is their brash, “fuck it” attitude. I mean that in the best way possible, because while a lot of bands say it’s all about the music, very few actually take it to the extent that they do. From the first chord you could tell Fadi, Ian, Rob and Sam had completely succumbed to the music, letting it flow over them, and the same could be said of Mike, who was being completely spontaneous throughout the night.
That’s kind of what I mean by the “fuck it” attitude, thing. Aside from the songs themselves, nothing was rehearsed or pre-planned. They just got up there, cut loose and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. In turn, that makes the show a truly unique experience for the spectators, because this night was different than any other night of their tour will be. Just like the gig the following night was no doubt different than any other stop of the tour will be.
They’re performers through and through, and you if you want to see an intense, high-strung show, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than what the Riverboat Gamblers put on.
For info on all their show dates, go HERE. They will be playing in Denver, CO, Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, Fullerton, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Tempe, AZ, El Paso, TX and Austin, TX, with the tour ending on September 7th. They also have a show in Dallas on September 12th at Three Links (it’s part of the Elm Street Music and Tattoo Festival), which means I know where I’ll be on 9/12. And don’t forget to pick up their records in iTUNES.
Great night filled with raw Rock ‘n’ Roll, and, thanks in part to the comedian, a good dose of humor, too.
In five years, the Denton based singer-songwriter Jessie Frye has released two EP’s, the most recent being very well received by fans and critics alike. However, in those five years one question has abounded; “When will you put out a full-length?”
Well, last week, everyone got the first glimpse of what her much anticipated debut full-length, titled “Obsidian”, will sound like, when the lead single “White Heat” was released.
It’s showcases a much different side to her music then ever heard before. Jessies’ piano is still an integral part to the song, but not in the more classical style of her past material, instead, this one’s more of an electronic track. The at times soupy sounds of the song are rounded out nicely by the thick drumbeats and subtle, low bass lines, while the guitar serves to enhance the dreamy quality the song creates.
It feels safe to say that this takes Jessie out of her comfort zone, but it’s nice to see an artist embrace something new and different, after all, that’s what sparks growth as a musician. There is one constant, though, and that’s Jessie’s enchanting, marvelous voice. It sounds even better than where the last record left off, and she’s able to create a plethora of textures with it, exerting complete control over it, at times singing in a more sultry tone, like on the line “White on white heat Perfect alchemy…”, and at other point it’s strong and forceful.
In listening to “White Heat”, you’ll understand exactly why Jessie Frye is a North Texas treasure, and while it may be several more months before the world can listen to the full “Obsidian” album, “White Heat” is the perfect song to whet peoples appetites while simultaneously making them even more excited for the record. It’s a gorgeous blend of indie and pop, and if this tune is any indicator, then “White Heat” is but only the kindling for a roaring fire.
The Jessie Frye band is:
Chad Ford- Drums
Jordan Martin- Guitar
Jessie Frye- Piano/Vocal
David Kellogg- Bass
Purchase the single “White Heat” as well as the previous two EP’s in Bandcamp.
Upcoming shows include:
September 13th at Pour Jons in Siloam Springs, AR / September 14th at Foam in St. Louis, MO / September 20th at Village Café in Bryan, TX / September 21st at Avant Garden in Houston, TX / September 28th at Flipnotics in Austin, TX / October 12th at The Poplar Lounge in Memphis, TN
Like most venues, the Granada Theater is pretty versatile when it comes to what styles of shows they host, and while you can regularly see anything from country to indie to rock there, the metal shows there seem to be fewer and further between. That was changing this night, though, and when the Granada does get a metal show in, they make sure it’ll be an epic one.
Austin’s The Sword was embarking on another tour, and this Dallas gig was the tour kick-off, and opening for them were their hometown friends American Sharks.
“Here we are, The Sword!” exclaimed singer and bass player Matt once the screen in front of the stage had been raised, revealing them. That was the first of many jokes he would make this night, and after telling everyone they were going to be playing some loud and wild music, they launched into their first song.
They were quick, to the point and raw, and shortly after finishing their first track, the trio burst into another. Afterwards, Mike brought the comedy back, this time talking about the Iron Swan Ale, a new limited edition beer of The Swords’ which was being sold this night, and Mike held up his can, talking about how awesome it was. When they got back to the music, it wasn’t without its flaws, as they had some technical difficulties with microphone, and coupled with Mike’s near unintelligible yelling/singing, it made it next to impossible to hear the vocals. It wasn’t anything major, however, and once they finished the song he simply readjusted the cord to regain the clear quality.
Once it came to an end Mike and lead guitarist Will began talking off mic. “So, Will is wanting to play this special song… Do y’all want to hear a special song?!” Mike soon asked the decent sized crowd, who obviously did. He acted like they may not at first, before final saying it was a special night, so why not, and they tore into another heavy, fast paced metal song, that had not only them but much of the audience violently banging their heads about.
“…We’re just a bunch of fucking gypsies on the road.” said Mike while trying to sell people on the idea of buying their merch, a description that got a roaring reaction from not only the crowd, but also his band mates, who looked at him like, “Where did you come up with that?” “…That just popped into my head.” he replied. They cranked out another tune, and as it concluded Nick stood up from behind his drum kit to finish pounding out the beats. Actually, that wasn’t just limited to that one song, because after most of them he’d get up and walk around while the banter was going on.
By far the best joke of the night came next, when Mike referred to the crowd as being handsome, then noted he knew you wouldn’t call women handsome, you’d say pretty. That led to him point out some of the differences between each sex, such as, “…Men have penises and women have vaginas…” and by far the best part was when I said, “However, I don’t know what this means.” He made a circle on his left hand with his index finger and thumb and proceeded to stick his index finger on his right hand through the hole. You can say that’s childish and crude, by it was also oh so funny.
He didn’t get to make too many pokes before Will started them onto the next song, essentially playing the Jaws theme on his ax, progressively getting fast, and when it reached the pinnacle moment was when the other two band members joined in, getting the song underway. After another song (which included them taking a picture of the crowd), Mike asked if everyone knew “that actress, Liv Tyler.” “I met her.” he stated, which seemed like a setup for a great story. “I don’t have a story for that, I just met her.” He added. That wound up being the last truly hilarious joke of the night, and they did a couple more numbers to wrap up their 27-minute long set.
I had only seen a portion of them before, and I must say, they are much more entertaining when you get to witness their full set. Their music is pretty aggressive, and if you like metal, you’ll no doubt love American Sharks. However, my one qualm is with Mike and his singing, which is mostly unintelligible as he screams into the mic. Sure, you can almost never hear a song as clearly as it comes across on a recording, but out of all those songs I probably only understood a collective five words. For the style of music they play, he’s got a voice that’s perfectly suited for it, but he could better enunciate things, at least here and there.
That aside, they were the most energetic band of the night and a very fun one to watch. If you want to both laugh and see a good show, go see American Sharks. They have plenty of DATES booked here and there from now until towards the end of the year, so there’s a good chance they’ll be coming to a town near you. And later this year you’ll also be able to pick up their new album which is being released on the The End Records, whom they recently signed with.
The only non-Texas act on this bill was Castle, who happened to be another trio, and they hailed from San Francisco, California.
Things got a lot heavier when they hit the stage, and about halfway through the first song of their 35-minute long set the floor began shaking from the thunderous beats from drummer Al McCartney and pulsating bass lines singer Elizabeth Blackwell was cranking out. Not only did they make a tight rhythm section, but also a loud one. Oh, and I was standing at the back, a good distance from the stage and was still able to feel the floor as it vibrated.
Mat Davis wound them directly into their next song with some vicious guitar notes, soon following it with another from one of their two records. Thus far Elizabeth had been doing all the singing on their doom metal sounding songs, so I was caught a little off guard when Mat opened his mouth to sing the next one, which I believe was “Storm Below the Mountain”. His voice was much gruffer than hers, which was a complimentary quality to this bleak, post-apocalyptic sounding song, which ended up being a favorite of mine from their set.
They churned out a couple more before Elizabeth announced the title of one of the songs, which came from their most recent record, “Blacklands”. “This song’s called Alcatraz.” she stated as they embarked on the largely instrumental song, showing off what incredible instrumentalists they were as they thrashed about. Next, they offered one more song to everyone, before closing with their longest song of the night, “Dying Breed”.
Despite being so different from what I typically listen to, I wound up loving Castle. They are very dark in terms of the music they play, yet refrain from screaming, which only makes it more appealing to me. Their stuff also paints some nice imagery in the listeners head, at least it did for me, and who cares if that imagery is reminiscent of a barren wasteland. After all, I get the feeling that’s kind of what they’re going for with their music.
Now, I did have trouble hearing Elizabeths’ voice, too, but for a different reason than the first band, and that was because her voice couldn’t compete with the wall of sound the bass, guitar and drums created. That didn’t make their show any less enjoyable, though.
I’d highly urge anyone to give Castle a listen. Usually, I’d turn my back on band like them, simply because the music is heavier than what I typically care for, but they pull it off well, and are some truly talented musicians to boot.
They’ll be on tour with The Sword for most of August, and even have a few shows scheduled after that, so visit their TOUR PAGE for all the details. You can also find both of their records in iTUNES.
Already things had been running a bit ahead of schedule, and at 9:51, with the aroma of pot filling the room (evidently, there were some people taking the stoner rock classification in its most literal meaning), the four members of The Sword filed on stage. Drummer Santiago Vela III, bassist Bryan Richie, singer and rhythm guitarist John Cronise and lead guitarist Kyle Shutt took their spots, a few minutes earlier than the 9:55 scheduled start time, and were greeted with a deafening mix of cheers and applause.
After briefly greeting everyone with some waves, they got down to business, beginning with one of their instrumental songs, which I believe was the lead track from 2008’s “Gods of the Earth” record, “The Sundering”. The soaring guitar solos Kyle let loose in conjunction with the thick drum beats ensured everyone was warmed up, but they didn’t stop there. It was segued seamlessly into the first single from the recent “Apocryphon” album, “The Veil of Isis”. It wasn’t smooth sailing at first, and the sound levels evidently weren’t set right, so when John opened his mouth to sing the first line it was mostly booming noise that came out, causing more than a few people to jump out of shock. He kept right on, though, and after a few sentences the sound guy got things properly adjusted, and all was right. In terms of an opening song, that’s the best one they could currently use at the moment. It’s The Sword at their best, and after switching things around the last time I saw them, I was quite happy that “Veil of Isis” was back in the starting position.
They paused just long enough to get the applause they so deserved for that song before Santiago began a brief, unmistakable drum solo that is the intro of “Arrows In the Dark”. His band mates soon joined in and the track sprang to life, and most of the fans sang right along with them, particularly on the chorus, “…Here in the land where shines no light, death can strike you where you stand.” All their albums were represented this night, and it was nice that “Warp Riders” was one of them, but the main focus was still on last year’s release, and they marched on with “Cloak of Feathers”. The thing that I noticed was how many people were again singing along to it, and the same went for most of the other newer material they played this night. In a time where most fans favor hearing the stuff they already know over anything new, I honestly found it refreshing to see so many people having embraced The Swords’ new music.
That’s not to say the classics weren’t welcomed, though, and the energy level shot through the roof when they suddenly burst into “Barael’s Blade”. Sheer epicness ensued, and it continued when to every ones pleasant surprise, they tackled another all time favorite, “How Heavy This Axe”. Like all their other songs, they are based on old Norse mythology, telling bloody good tales (literally) fictitious battles. Often (at least from my limited experiences in seeing The Sword), at least one of those songs is usually reserved as an encore, so knocking them both out back-to-back seemed like a sure sign that they had a hell of a set planned for the remainder of the show.
Indeed, they did, and Kyle set them off on their next song, first by just playing a string as he looked at his band mates to make sure they were ready. Santiago, Bryan and John then came in, exploding into one of their heaviest (and quickest) numbers, “Execrator”, and afterwards the fans again rejoiced as the opening betas and chords for “Tres Brujas” filled the room. Perhaps it’s because I’ rather partial to that track, but I felt it was the best song of their set, partly due to the in-your-face sound, and partly because the instrumental outro is so stellar. It shows what a well-oiled machine they really are by highlighting the intricacies of their musicianship (you know, if you still had any doubts of it by this point.)
At this point, they took a timeout and John spoke more than he had all night, thanking the opening bands. He spoke highly about them, praise they were well deserving of, and soon they broke out another oldie, “Maiden, Mother & Crone” . They delved even further back, again touching on their debut album “Age of Winters” with (one of) their songs about the goddess “Freya”. The riveting “Ebethron” was another nicely selected song from that album, and buried within it was a nice surprise that no doubt caught everyone off guard. In recent years, The Sword has been known to cover a ZZ Top song (which even made the cut on their latest album), and after completing the next to last verse of their original, they broke into a different cover. This one came from the Canadian rockers Rush. Suddenly, amidst this heavy metal song, they busted out “Working Man”, albeit a much heavier rendition, and it was a trimmed down version, too. As odd a choice as it may sound, it fit The Sword well, mainly because they were able to put their own mark on it. Then, after finishing it off with a sweet guitar solo, all courtesy of John, Santiago fired up the beats again, picking up “Ebethron” right where they left off.
That unforgettable moment had basically been saved for last, with the sample intro for “Apocryphon” soon beginning, and with that title track they completed their 60-minute set.
An encore was almost certain, though, and after a minute or two when the group returned, the cries of “Winter’s Wolves!” could be heard from several people, who were effectively serving as the voice for the whole crowd by shouting out the song that everyone had been anxiously waiting for.
Those shouts went seemingly unnoticed, but they did rip into “Night City”, which more than satisfied everyone, and frankly, it gave the crowd a good kick in the ass in the best possible way. Now, I’ve mentioned that The Sword had released their own ale, and the name for it came from a track on their debut record, so, it only made sense that “Iron Swan” was dusted off for this show (and probably tour). John delicately plucked the strings of his guitar for the songs serene intro, which soon transitioned to a wall of sound once the other guitar, bass and drums were brought in, mining a vein of the purest of metal.
The fans seemed very appreciative of hearing that classic, but were now ready for the one they wanted to hear, however, “Winter’s Wolves” went unheard, as “Iron Swan” closed out their 10-minute long encore, giving a lackluster finish to what had otherwise been the best The Sword show I’ve seen yet.
Now, that could lead to a whole other discussion about bands having the right to play whatever they choose to, and one I won’t bother getting into here. However, when you have a song that’s a beloved favorite by all, I feel it should be in the setlist no matter what.
Aside from that, these guys were incredibly on point this night, more so than I’ve ever seen them. You say what you want in regards to dialogue between the audience, but that’s a quality that differs from band to band, and they operate better by keeping it to a minimum and simply blazing through their set. They’re every bit as enthralling that way, managing to connect with their fans through the music rather than dialogue (like, American Sharks for example.)
They’re masters of their craft who write excellent metal music with lyrical content that is far different than most, and if you want to see an amazing show, well, check out The Sword. After all, stumbling across them nearly two years ago at the Dia de los Toadies music festival and witnessing them live was what made me a fan in the first place.
They’ll be touring pretty heavily all the way through November, so they’ll most likely make a stop at a town near you. Check out their TOUR DATES for exact details, and you can of course purchase their albums in iTUNES.
Like I said, when the Granada puts on a metal show, they make sure it’s the best. And even though I’m not a “metalhead” by any means, this was a fantastic night.