Get On It Presents Announces Dallas Mini Music Festivals!

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GET IT ON PRESENTS
, a national music booking and promotion company, announces a slate of roving mini-festivals intended to spotlight specific genres to help bands build a local scene with other like-minded bands. Each event will feature several bands of the same genre, allowing their fans to enjoy a full night of the music they love — be it Alternative, Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Funk, etc. The intention is to move these festivals around to different venues and to bring Dallas bands to other cities to play other mini-festivals that fit their music.

GET IT ON PRESENTS is headed by Lee Sobel who was a filmmaker before becoming a music promoter. The company currently puts on shows throughout the country. There are no fees to play these events - bands who would like to be considered for future events may reach the company through their website: GetOnItPresents.com

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Friday, October 10th

Get It On Presents:
Dallas Blues Fest!

Liquid Lounge @ 2800 Main Street, Dallas, TX 75226, 214.742.6207; $10 admission - 17+ Admitted (Anyone Under 21 will be charged an additional $5 by the club)

Bands Performing:
8pm Taylor Castleberry
9pm Texez Mudd
10pm Light Horse Harry
11pm The Buffalo Parade

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Friday, October 10th

Get It On Presents:
Dallas Alternarock Fest!

Bryan Street Tavern, 4315 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75204, 214.821.4447; $10 admission - 21+ w/ID

Bands Performing:
8pm My Lucky Lighter
9pm The Honest Mistakes
10pm Sparrow and the Clay

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Friday, November 14th

Get It On Presents:
Dallas Alternarock Fest!

Bryan Street Tavern, 4315 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75204, 214.821.4447; $10 admission - 21+ w/ID

Bands Performing:
8pm My Lucky Lighter
9pm Drive Thru Society
10pm Treeside
11pm Slybot
12am King For President

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 – Reckless Kelly Pumps Up the Crowd at Western Days

With it officially being fall it means it’s time for festival season to kick back into high gear.

Even the city of Lewisville gets in on the action with their annual Western Days Festival (sponsored in part by 99.5 The Wolf), taking place in the heart of historic downtown Lewisville.

All sorts of art and food vendors were set up along the multiple blocks they had blocked off; and there was plenty going on to entertain. Live music was one of the things that occupied some time; and, of course, that would be the thing that got me out here in the first place.

One act I was eager to see was Reckless Kelly.

The Austin-based country/rock band is no stranger to the D/FW area, though I’ve never managed to make it to a show when they’ve been up here. They routinely headline some of the biggest venues in the area, though it would seem it’s easier to get people out to an air-conditioned venue later at night than it is to a (free) show in the great outdoors at six in the evening.

Don’t get me wrong, as there were several dedicated fans ready for them. A few dozen sat in folding chairs, with dozens more standing; and as it got later and the heat from the sun subsided, the number of eyes on them grew substantially.

The quintet made their way on stage as they were being introduced by one of the radio personalities; ripping right into their opener as soon as he had said what he needed to.

Immediately you could feel the massive presence they had in tow as they commanded everyone’s attention; and then they got into what was pretty much a full headline set.

Covers always interest me, mainly because some bands stay as far away from them as possible, while others have no problem with it, and quite enjoy putting their own twists on some classics. Reckless Kelly apparently fits into that latter category, and they opened with a deep cut from Bruce Springsteens’ catalog, “My Love Will Not let You Down”. The mandolin Cody Braun wielded helped in giving the song more of a country vibe, though it definitely retained its rock core; and singer and rhythm guitarist Willy Braun even gave The Boss a run for his money, belting out the song in a gritty, raw tone of voice. “Come on, boys!” he roared as they hit an instrumental break — almost like he was taking a cue from Springsteen’s playbook — as David Abeyta took the spotlight on a killer lead guitar solo.

They knew their time with everyone was short, and never wasted much time this evening; and now, drummer Jay Nazz rolled them right into their next track. “How we doing y’all?!” Willy excitedly asked the crowd, many of whom screamed back at him. “This is an Alejandro Escovedo song for you!” he informed everyone. Nazz held a maraca in one hand and a drumstick in the other, and his drumming on “Castanets” was absolutely phenomenal. He was completely in the zone; and at the break, Willy walked up on the drum riser and stood beside him and jammed for a few moments. The singer then made his way back to the forefront of the stage, hopping atop a monitor. “Come on!” he mouthed as he threw his hand in the air, further pumping up the spectators; before he and Abeyta concluded the song by facing one another as they shredded on their axes.

No one cared in the least that those were covers, because they owned both of them, but now it was time for some original music, and it started with the title track to their 2011 album, “Good Luck & True Love”. Its catchy hooks dug in to everyone, making them enjoy the show all the more, while plenty sung right along with the band, “…Maybe it was just one night of good luck and true love…”. As the guitars and drums fell silent, Joe Miller proceeded to lay down some hefty riffs on the bass, and Willy made sure to point him out, asking everyone to say “hi” to him. The Braun Brothers then got to show off their full vocal capabilities as they co-sung “Lonely All the Time”. Their voices were rich and vibrant, and when layered over one another, well, it resulted in the best thing they had done thus far.

“Here’s one y’all might remember from the old days,” Willy told the crowd. It appeared as if he was about to move on to the song, but then added, “And by old days, I mean, oh, about thirty years ago.” Abeyta now had a twelve-string guitar in his hands, using it as they handled another rock classic, this one coming from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Their rendition of “Listen to Her Heart” was stellar; and while they kept it pretty spot on, there were some slight tweaks here and there, giving it a bit of an Americana vibe.

The applause rang out while Willy played some riffs on his guitar, getting everyone excited before stopping. They teased everyone for just a bit, again acting as if they were starting the song before quitting. They kept it going the third time around, officially getting the more outlaw country tune “Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah” underway, and it was another one the audience thoroughly seemed to enjoy.

An acoustic guitar was brought out to Willy, who then told the onlookers they had a song about the road for them. He was referring to the lead track from the Bulletproof record, “Ragged as the Road”, a song that received some strong cheers as they started it. Upon finishing it, a fan shouted a request at them. “We’ll get to that one,” Willy told the person, politely joking with them by saying, “We know what we’re doing up here.” He mentioned this next one was the latest single from the record they released just one year ago. Willy and Cody again did some co-singing, this time on the melancholy “The Girl I Knew”. “…You come and steal my heart with your wild eyes shining, then you smile as you break it in two. What did you do with the girl I knew?” goes the poignant chorus, and the brothers delivered that emotion in their singing.

Before moving on, Abeyta switched to an acoustic guitar, while Willy grabbed his neck rack and harmonica. Miller and Nazz left the stage to those three for “Wicked, Twisted Road”. It may have been the slowest thing they did this evening, but it also the most powerful. You could tell the lyrics came right from the heart, and Willy appeared to be connecting with it on a deep personal level.

As they neared the end, Miller returned to the stage, grabbing his upright bass for the first time this night, and he began to tune. Nazz got back behind his kit shortly after; and when that song was over, Willy handed the reins over to Cody, who said they had “a little bluegrass” to play. “Wild Western Windblown Band” was the song, and it’s lively pace was the exact opposite from the previous few songs. It reinvigorated everyone, from the band to those watching; and Abeyta got to show off his skills some more on another nice solo.

The lead guitarist then swapped back to an electric guitar, while Willy got a little nostalgic, saying he and Cody were big fans of The Everly Brothers growing up. “We worked this up the other day,” he said in advance of “Bird Dog”. It created a fun atmosphere, and they kept some of those 50’s era vibes intact, while modernizing it some, too. Willy and Cody spent much of the song huddled around the main microphone, with Abeyta throwing in the “bird dog” part and such.

A few times this night Cody had busted out his fiddle, and he brought it out again here, using it for the intro to their next track, while Cody shook a tambourine. Miller started a clap along with the now couple hundred people who were now standing along the street (many of whom were a little further back from the stage, though still glued to the band). Already there was an unmistakable Irish jig sound going, and fans roared when Willy stated they were going to “take it on down to Ireland one time”, doing so with “Seven Nights in Eire”.

“We’ve been playing this song for a long, long time…” Willy mentioned, saying it was originally done by Richard Thompson. “It took a long time for us to learn it, but after doing it a couple thousand times, we feel confident it is the best song on the subject,” he finished. I’d say he’s right about “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” — another song that they have made completely their own — and it fit with the outlaw tones of some of their previous stuff.

Nazz bridged them into the following song; and with everyone back on electric instruments now, they were ready to finish strong, first serving up “Vancouver”. “Here’s a little Joe Ely for you right now,” said Willy. They had just enough spare time left to throw in their take on “My Eyes Got Lucky”, something all the Texas country music fans really went crazy over. Willy then led the charge into the final song of their 71-minute long set, “Nobody’s Girl”, which really seemed to personify these Red Dirt rockers spirit, leading to an awesome finish.

My first experience with Reckless Kelly was far better than I even thought it would be.  The showmanship they displayed was off the charts. Best of all, it never wavered; and by the time things were done, they had only grown into an even more powerful force.

It’s the type of performance that can only come after you’ve spent the better part of two decades together, logging a few thousand shows at least, and developing just the right chemistry amongst band mates.

This may have been my first Reckless Kelly show, but it certainly will not be the last.

They’ll be back in North Texas on November 7th at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, though they have plenty of other dates around the Mid-West before then. Their full tour schedule can be found HERE. Be sure to head over to iTUNES and check out their albums, too.

Shows You Know You Wanna See: September 29 - October 4

Monday, September 29th
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7:30
$12
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Tuesday, September 30th
-Dallas (Lower Greenville Avenue)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
$27+
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Thursday, October 2nd
-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 18+
Doors @ 8 / Music @ 9
$5+

-Dallas (Downtown)

AGEs 21+
$8

-Denton

Music @ 9
$8
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Friday, October 3rd
-Arlington


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 21+
Doors @ 10
$7

-Dallas (Oak Cliff)

ALL AGES
Music @ 9
FREE

-Fort Worth

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Saturday, October 4th
-Dallas


-Dallas (Deep Ellum)

AGES 17+
Doors @ 8:30 / Music @ 9
21+ $10 / 21- $15

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7:30
21+ $10/ 21- $12

-Dallas (Downtown)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7
$23+

-Dallas (South Side on Lamar)

ALL AGES
Doors @ 7 / Music @ 8
$30

-Fort Worth

ALL AGES
$8
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Brazilian-Born Guitarist Gus Sinaro is Sinaro - New Music Video for ‘No Salvation’ Out Now

imageBrazilian-born guitarist GUS SINARO is fast establishing himself as a worthy warrior in the world of heavy metal. After founding and fronting the successful metallic thrash act Symphony of Malice, SINARO is about to take on the heavy music world with his own eponymous project.

Building upon the whiplash-inducing drive of S.O.M., SINARO infuses that sound with a more melodic and anthemic sheen on debut release Darkest Hours (The Rebirth) and ‘No Salvation,’ the album’s latest single. The single’s accompanying music video, a gnarly, little urban nightmare, is available for viewing.

During his adolescence in Brazil, SINARO was quick to discover the thrill of heavy metal and hard rock after hearing Metallica, Iron Maiden and Alice in Chains for the first time. Hearing those bands ignited inSINARO a passion for singing and playing guitar. Pushing himself as much as he could, he became an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Then, at the age of 17, SINARO made the biggest investment in his musical career by moving to the U.S. After playing leads in a handful of local bands left him wanting, he decided to branch out on his own and create the sound he was hearing in his head.

This began with the inception of Symphony of Malice, a band whose sound was akin to that of SINARO’s peers in Trivium and All That Remains, but whose foundation was rooted in the stadium-sized thrash of bands like Metallica and Megadeth. Judgment Day (The Aftermath)¸ the debut album by S.O.M., garnered the group some commercial and critical success. That release, as well as a slew of gigs opening for monster acts like Trivium, DevilDriver, Drowning Pool, Korzus, Nervosa and Eye Empire, earned them a strong fanbase.

It also gave SINARO the confidence to go one step further and create his solo project. So, in February 2014, SINARO was unleashed upon the world in the form of Darkest Hours (The Rebirth) and its first single ‘Bullet Through Your Head.’ Building upon what he began in S.O.M., SINARO has taken the most extreme elements of his previous band and given it a bigger, more powerful approach. It maintains that metallic approach while incorporating a leaner, more hard rock sound, a la Alice in Chains, a major influence on SINARO and the record. ‘No Salvation’ is the latest auditory and visual onslaught from this revelatory release.

Ear-catching and earth-shattering, SINARO will continue to gain fans and followers worldwide.

Buzzing Philly Rockers MACH22 Release “Sweet Talk Intervention” via Physical Distribution through FYE and HMV

imageAs the name implies, MACH22’s rise is set to mach speed, with no turning back. The band has just announced that they’ve joined with FYE in the United States and HMV in Canada and the UK to distribute their new album,Sweet Talk Intervention. The record can be purchased digitally via iTUNES now.

Sweet Talk Intervention was recorded at Sound Dragon Studios in Nashville, TN, engineered by Ronnie Honeycutt, and produced by Jeff LaBar of Cinderella. The record was mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC by UE Nastasi, whose credits include AC/DCThe Ramones, and Led Zeppelin.

MACH22 is as authentic as you can get in a pure rock n’ roll band. Their songs span the emotional spectrum, capturing that classic feel with a modern rock edge. With their killer riffs, bluesy rhythms, and soulful delivery, they keep their audiences hooked for the entire set. Their sound is steeped in classic rock influences. There’s a hint of Guns N’ RosesLenny KravitzAC/DC, and Aerosmith, but it’s all MACH22, and it speaks for itself.

They may be young, but MACH22 has already racked up some impressive credentials: opening for SlashSteel Panther, Tom Keifer, Jeff Labar and performing in front of an audience of 75,000 at “Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival” and over 60,000 at the Rocklahoma Festival in Pryor, Oklahoma to name a few.

MACH22 is currently gearing up to tour North America to support Sweet Talk Intervention. Their live show is “where it’s at”, so catch them as they head to your town, and hear the unmistakable sound, of MACH22. See below for currently confirmed tour dates in the band’s local area:

Local MACH22 Dates:
9/26 Philadelphia, PA @ The Legendary Dobbs
10/10 New Castle, DE @ JB McGinness
10/18 West Chester, PA @ Fennario’s
11/29 Wilmington, DE @ World Cafe Live at the Queen
12/3 Philadelphia, PA @ The Legendary Dobbs w/ Jake E. Lee’s Red Dragon Cartel

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(Photo credit: Dan Williams Photography)

Nothing More Tackles Social Issues with “Mr. MTV” Music Video



In an age where most music videos seem to have become simplified, with just the band playing the song in front of a backdrop (with scantily clad woman somehow incorporated), the new video NOTHING MORE released yesterday for “Mr. MTV” comes as a welcome change of pace.

Sure, the video is partly of the four guys from San Antonio, Texas playing against a white background (creating a very sterile feeling environment, stifling to any and all creativity). And yeah, a few of the woman that appear in it have the stereotypical model look as they dance around in revealing outfits; though it’s the message the song carries, along with the rest of the footage, that makes this music video so powerful.

For those unfamiliar with “Mr. MTV”, the new single from Nothing More’s SELF-TITLED record tackles the issue of consumerism, and even what an obsessive culture we have become. From buying what we’re told to buy (i.e the latest and greatest gadget that you never knew you needed until now), to being given a mold of what beauty should look like, and if you don’t fit that, than there must be something wrong with you, right?

The video plays out partly like a propaganda film, with “subliminal messages” being worked in left and right, flashing by so quick it’s next to impossible to even see them. “This is a woman,” flickers across the screen when first showing the models, digging at the fact that people are told that is how all woman should appear, before quickly escalating with sentences like, “You are empty,” or “You’re inadequate.” “Debt is god,” it continues, further hammering home the fact that we’re made to think the only way to be happy is by constantly buying material possessions; while the word “conform” later appears.

The propaganda feel is also seen in the scenes with people strapped in chairs — eyes taped open — being indoctrinated to all these ways, before breaking free and revolting against their captors.

All in all, the video is riveting — even chilling — all the way through the end, which frankly, is a bit creepy. So, if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you waiting? Check it out above!

It is extremely thought provoking, and how many music videos do that these days? I find it even makes “Mr. MTV” a more powerful song, because the band has fully fleshed out the story they’re conveying in the lyrics, painting a vivid picture of what they’re singing about.

“Empty me, empty nation, emptied us of inspiration. Bastard sons and broken daughters; we all bow down to our corporate fathers.”

Nothing More will be crisscrossing the country through October. Their full tour schedule can be found HERE.

Centro-matic’s December Tour Looks to be Their Last

image(Photo credit: Matt Pence)

Late last night, Centro-matic announced some news that was heartbreaking to fans: an indefinite hiatus.

That is, perhaps, putting it mildly, as the letter singer Will Johnson penned makes it sound like the long-running Denton-based band is officially done, saying that, “the time finally feels right to celebrate the existence of this thing, then let it rest.”

Few bands last two decades, especially if they never receive any commercial success, and why Centro-matic didn’t is beyond me.

I was late to the party in the first place, only becoming a fan within the last few years, but upon seeing them I was enthralled, not only by their amazing songs, but also by their superb performance.

In many ways, this does seem like a fitting time to end the band. Their eleventh and most recent album was titled Take Pride in Your Long Odds; and while the odds may have never been stacked in their favor, this band kept on, making music not only because they loved it, but also because their ever loyal fans did.

So, if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the thirteen cities the band will be stopping in this December, make sure you go see them. Celebrate their career with them and rejoice in the fact that they existed in the first place.

After all, Centro-matic may have never been iconic (at least not on a large-scale), but they are a legend in their own right. The last of a dying breed.

"One thing that has resonated with us increasingly since the start is the devotion, love and generosity within our community of fans.  We were never the most popular band on the block, but the kind of long-running support we’ve received has been something consistent and immeasurable. The climate of music has morphed into a pretty different thing since we started. Even as the times have changed around us, the connection with our fans has easily and always provided our biggest source of inspiration over this incredible journey." - Will Johnson

(If you are not acquainted with Centro-matic, you can download a 24-song sampler for free HERE.)

December 2014 Tour Dates:

Dec 04           Nashville, TN            Mercy Lounge
Dec 05           Athens, GA                Georgia Theater #
Dec 06           Raleigh, NC              Kings Barcade *
Dec 07           Washington, DC       DC9 *
Dec 09           Philadelphia, PA      Boot & Saddle *
Dec 10           Brooklyn, NY             Rough Trade *
Dec 11           New York, NY            Mercury Lounge ^
Dec 12           Allston, MA               Great Scott ^
Dec 14           Buffalo, NY                 Sportmen’s Tavern &
Dec 16           Chicago, IL                 Schubas Tavern ~
Dec 17           St Louis, MO              Off Broadway ~
Dec 19           Austin, TX                  The Parish +
Dec 20           Denton, TX                Dans Silverleaf ~
Dec 21           Denton, TX                Dans Silverleaf @

# with Dead Confederate
* with Elephant Micah
^ with Anders Parker and Cloud Badge
& with Roger Bryan and the Orphans
~ with Telegraph Canyon
+ with Monahans
@ with Slobberbone

Dallas Rockers The Roomsounds new ‘Lay My Head Down’ Hits Sept. 30

imageThe four men who collectively call themselves The Roomsounds carry rock’s touchstone references in their bluesy, southern-tinged music, from the Beatles, Stones and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to Big Star, the Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, Oasis and the Jayhawks. But their new single, “Lay My Head Down,” a manifesto about the healing power of rock ’n’ roll, paves its own way into the pantheon with a spirited groove durable enough to become one of tomorrow’s classics. Available Sept. 30, the song was written by lead singer/guitarist Ryan Michael and recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The band was invited there by second-generation owner Rodney Hall, son of renowned songwriter and producer Rick Hall, after the younger Hall caught a video posted by a mutual friend.

Michael, guitarist/vocalist Sam Janik, bassist/vocalist Red Coker and drummer Dan Malone were fans of the studio and aware of its place in rock history, but the full impact of that history didn’t sink in until they arrived and absorbed the vibe firsthand. They couldnt help but capture the spirit of those who’d previously made music in that hallowed space, from Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Duane Allman.

The song follows their self-titled 2012 debut album, which led to a Dallas Observer nomination for Best Rock Act and a cover story in LIT Monthly as the publication’s Best Band for 2012.

The band, whose members transplanted themselves from New England to Texas after Michael found inspiration there during an extended visit, are still laying down tracks for an upcoming album. They expect to complete it during their upcoming visit to Muscle Shoals. But it took only one visit for Rick Hall to label them “the future of rock ’n’ roll.” Clearly, it’s in good hands.

Tour dates:
Oct. 2 – AT&T Patio Session, Sammons Park, Dallas
Oct. 10 – Dirty Rooster, Allen, Texas
Oct. 11 – Flying Saucer, Fort Worth
Oct. 16 – The Blue Light, Lubbock
Oct. 17 – The Golden Light Cantina, Amarillo
Oct. 18 – Goldthwaite Music Festival, Goldthwaite, Texas
Oct. 21 – Bear’s Den Pizza, Conway, Ark.

Nov. 22 – The Rustic, Dallas

Follow The Roomsounds:
theroomsounds.com /facebook.com/theroomsounds /twitter.com/theroomsounds

Italian Alt-Metal Band Klogr Releases Music Video for ‘Failing Crowns’ + Updates Fans on Upcoming Live/Documentary DVD

imageDuring last spring’s European Tour with Prong, Italian alt-metal band KLOGR had goPRO cameras on stage, in addition to having the band’s official photographer, Nico Cagarelli, film their shows backstage and on-the-road. The resulting footage will end up on a live/documentary DVD, to be released next year! Watch a teaser here for an upcoming full concert “Live in Hamburg” to be released next week in support of the upcoming DVD.

That’s not all – KLOGR have more news in store for their diehard fans, which will be announced later this year.

For now, you can enjoy an amazing preview of what’s to come via KLOGR's new video for ‘Failing Crowns’, one of the most appreciated tracks off of the band’s latest release, Black Snow.

Although it’s not the most straight-to-the-point track, it is one of the more representative songs of the band, with its progressive groove and smacking riffs. The ‘Failing Crowns’ single is available digitally via iTunes as part of a special package, including the original album version, a live version recorded in Hamburg, and a live version of the track ‘Draw Closer’, also recorded in Hamburg. Get the single package HERE.

KLOGR’s new full-length album, Black Snow, is available for purchase in the United States via The End Record’s “Omega Order” mailorder system. The CD is available now via this link, so make sure to order your copy NOW!

You can also order Black Snow now via iTunes - available as a special digital edition which includes the band’s 2011’s Till You Turn EP and Ground Zero 11-11-11 Live. Download your copy here. Recorded between Zeta Factory and Green River studios, Black Snow was produced by KLOGR frontman and mastermind Rusty and Tancredi Barbuscia.

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 - The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Day II – The Toadies Wrap Up Their Festival with One Last Run Through Rubberneck

The gates at Panther Island Pavilion were set to open at three this afternoon, and unsurprisingly, there weren’t many people there at that time.

Still, there were a little more than a dozen people already lined up; and once they finally did open the gates, it became clear everyone either already had a wristband from attending the first night of Dia de los Toadies or they had their tickets for the day already printed out.

It was a die-hard bunch right there.

Of course, the bands weren’t slated to start until 3:40, meaning there was a lot of time to kill. Time that was best spent either checking out the food trucks that were there, or just sitting at the tables around said trucks, resting up for the long day that lie ahead.

This was my fourth Dia (all have been consecutive), and the weather was nicer this day than any of those in years past. The clouds were keeping the sun at bay, to the point it looked like rain may not be out of the question. That also kept the temperature more than bearable. In fact, a jacket didn’t hurt, even in the early afternoon. This is Texas, though, so those conditions didn’t last forever.

The event got started over on the smaller stage, and since it was in Fort Worth, it was appropriate that a hometown band like Blank-Men would be the first to play.

They stood apart from everyone else this day in the fact that they relied heavily on electronics/synthesizers.

Vocalist and bassist Sam Swanson, guitarist and vocalist Alex Atchley, drummer Joey Kendall and synth player Emily Thompson opened with an instrumental piece, rocking out for a few minutes before Swanson counted to four, leading them into their next number.

“It’s all coming together now,” the bassist remarked after one of the songs off their Fact or Fiction? EP, “Radio Silence”. They were definitely in the groove now, as they kept pumping out one song after another, alternating between Swanson and Atchley handling the vocals, and even co-singing at times.

“This songs about,” Swanson said, pausing briefly to think, before giving a nod to a Fort Worth venue, “Spending all your money at The Boiled Owl.” They even joked about their merch at one point, saying they had “small circular things for sale” and that they wouldn’t mind if everyone bum rushed the table and just took whatever they wanted.

“Here’s one for all you hardcore kids,” Atchley said before one song. It was heavier from what they had done thus far, especially with the intro on the moog Thompson was responsible for.

Blank-men’s style of music was quite different from what I typically like, but by the time they finished, I was rather enjoying it. They play it very well, blending both the rock and electronic genres nicely.

You can find their EP on BANDCAMP; and see them live on November 4th at Three Links in Dallas.

People now headed over to the main stage, where another Fort Worth-based band — The Longshots — were about to get started.

They were the first of many bands this day whom I had seen previously, though they looked a little different. They were a four-piece now, something I had evidently missed, assuming the news was even shared on any of their social networks whenever it may have happened.

Nonetheless, I was looking forward to seeing them again.

The fact that they were down to two guitarists/singers now didn’t seem to inhibit them much, though they did focus on a different set of songs from what I recall from the other shows I had seen. “The Chase” got their 32-minute long set off to a good start, with some killer riffs, while the beats Brady Hamilton was dishing out were perfect to bang your head to, as Joey Gorman handled the singing.

Many of the bands this day used these stages to try out some new(er) material, and The Longshots were no exception. “…We appreciate being able to play on this stage with our friends…” Gorman said after singing another song. He then realized he didn’t want to exclude anyone, and extended that to include everyone who was playing on this field, saying, “we’re all homies.” Fellow singer and guitarist Alex Zobel now took the reins, as they did another cut from their self-titled debut they released earlier this year. “Back to the Rio Grande” showed off more of the bands garage rock sound; while the track that followed highlighted the harmonies both Gorman and Zobel are capable of, as the latter chimed in on each chorus.

One of the lines from that song was about “medicine”, leading Gorman to say afterwards that the song was about “the legal distribution of medical marijuana in America and their opposition towards it.” He said it so deadpan, you might have thought he was serious, though he was more being extremely sarcastic.

They debuted a brand new song to the people, a song that got off to a softer start, before getting more intense. Hamilton counted them into “Uppercut”, which boasted a sweet instrumental jam, complete with some nice riffs, with the drums and Kris Luthers’ bass also having their moments. The rhythm section then really got to shine on their final number, which had a heavy instrumental breakdown.

It was a really good set, though it was different from my past two Longshots experiences.

While they did have those raw rock numbers, they also had plenty of slower songs mixed in. Personally, I enjoyed those styles of songs, though it did make for an interesting mix. However, the biggest difference was how restrained they were.

These guys are usually jumping all around the stage, and while it would have been impossible this day, even jumping off it and mingling with the crowd while shredding. That same energy just wasn’t there this afternoon. I highly enjoyed hearing the music, but the show… Maybe it was just an off day for them.

If you want to check out The Longshots music (and you should), you can find it in iTUNES.

Scott Beggs (co-owner of the Dallas venue Three Links) was introducing all the bands this day, and before the next act on the smaller stage, he pointed out that all the bands had been handpicked by The Toadies, making this their own “personal playlist” of sorts.

The stage was then given up to Residual Kid, a trio who had made the short trip from Austin.

Their music was a mixture of grunge and punk, grunge in the fact that it had a dirtier sound to it, and punk in the way that some of their songs were just a couple minutes or so.

They managed to fit 10 songs into their 34-minute set, getting their first two done quickly, and bridging them together so seamlessly that it was fairly hard to tell they had started “Friend”. It was the lone track they did off their Faces EP, and was pretty catchy to boot.

“This one’s brand new,” stated singer and guitarist Deven Ivy before the group continued. “It’s not so chilly up here,” he mentioned afterwards, then tacked on, “with a jacket,” to that sentence. He, bassist Max Redman and drummer Ben Redman kept the blistering pace up with songs like “Names” and “Glue”, which were as short and to the point as the titles were. It was kind of nice, because they didn’t bother stretching the song(s) out, rather, just say what they wanted to and then finish it.

One song they did was about Sonic Youth, and during it, Ivy ran his axe along the top of his cabinet, creating some nice tones. Throughout the show he had mentioned who they were, and as their time on stage drew to a close, he joked, “We’re still Residual Kid.” Their final song had a heavy break down during it; and in its final moments, Max took his bass off and let it fall to the floor. He then flipped it over, with the strings now being visible, grabbed the mic stand he had occasionally used this day, propped his bass up at an angle, and then ran the whole stand up and down the neck. It’s was pretty rock ‘n’ roll.

I knew many of the bands on the festival this day, but Residual Kid was one that was new to me, and they proved to be a good surprise.

Of course, there are still bands that play some sort of punk or grunge rock out there, but it was good to see a younger band who knows the importance/significance of those styles and has incorporated it into their sound.

You can find their EP in iTUNES. As for shows, they have one coming up in Austin on September 23rd at The Palm Door.

It was later in the five-o’clock hour now, and the sun had not only made an appearance, but it was getting pretty warm at this point. That’s Texas for you. Still, at least it wasn’t unbearably hot.

The main stage now belonged to Somebody’s Darling, who just a few weeks before this had played a big CD release show for their new album, and those new songs were expected to be in full force this day.

In a switch up from how that CD release show went, though, they opted to get a couple of slightly older songs out of the way first.

Frontwoman and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris jumped around to the beats Nate Wedan was producing, as they built up to their first song. “Put your cold hands in my warm jacket. Keep ‘em there to we leave…” the singer than crooned, as they got “Cold Hands” underway. The roots rockers had their own little fan base out this evening, and they were happy to clap along once Farris began to do so. “Alright, here we go! Let’s do this!” she yelled as they amped the song back up; and lead guitarist David Ponder killed it with the closing guitar solo.

“We’re Somebody’s Darling and we’re happy to be here,” Farris stated over the mixed noise of the guitars, keys, bass and drums, which soon gave way to the other single spawned from Jank City Shakedown, “Wedding Clothes”. Both bassist Wade Cofer and pianist Mike Talley added their voices to the chorus of “Just waiting on my fever to break…”, which really strengthened it. Talley even stole the show for a moment when he quickly ran his fingers over the keyboard, starting at one end and going down to the other.

Before that second song, Farris also mentioned they were going to get warmed up. After that, I’d say they sufficiently were.

Now they got to their new stuff, tackling the lead track (and single) from Adult Roommates, “Bad, Bad”. “We’re excited to be on stage with The Toadies!” Farris remarked after they had finished that song. She encouraged everyone to get drunk for them, though added, “Stay sober enough.”

She cleaned up “Vowels Flow” for any and all young ears that may have been listening. “…While the girls at the mall rack the bills, while their daddy screws us all…” Farris belted on the first verse (you can use your imagination as to what word was changed and from what). It’s nearly impossible not to get into that feel good song; and after the second chorus, Farris tried to pull any stragglers in, yelling, “Alright, Fort Worth. Let’s go! Come on,”

The stirring “Come to Realize” brought the mood down slightly, though the song about the demise of a relationship and pondering what caused it was a highlight of their set (and I’m not just saying that because I’m incredibly partial to it). It really did result in an amazing moment. “Let’s do this!” Farris said aloud, before Wedan hammered out the beats for “Set it Up”, which was another one that had Ponder doing an excellent solo.

Off to the side of the stage, there were some booths set up, and one of them had a giant moustache in front of it. The funny thing was it was seesaw; and before going any further, Farris pointed it out, along with the people who were currently on it. “Everyone needs a good seesaw now and then,” she laughed, before they busted out the second single from their new record, “Generator”, which had a handful of people (just that I could see) singing along to it.

That was a sign that their 37-minute long set was nearly over, but they still had a little something left to give.

“We’re gonna slow it down now that you got all rowdied up,” said Farris, who now had an acoustic guitar in her hands. They jumped to the final two songs on the album; and “Smoke Blows” isn’t quite as slow as it was made out to be. Neither was “Keep This Up”, which again utilized the three-part harmonies between Cofer, Talley and Farris, and proved a good one to end with.

The energy from the crowd may have been vastly different from the near capacity show they played a few weeks back, but the bands energy was every bit as vibrant as ever.

That’s not to say the audience wasn’t into it, either, but the band wasn’t able to get all the sing alongs going like they can at their usual shows, where they’re the main act.

Since they didn’t have much time, they had to keep a fast pace, and pretty much launched one song after the other at the onlookers.

Basically, Somebody’s Darling was responsible for what was one of the best sets of the day.

They’ll be at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands on October 9th, and then have a couple of short tours planned later in the month, where they’ll hit Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. They’ll also be playing Charlie’s Backyard Bar in Marshall, TX on November 7th and Lee Harvey’s in Dallas on November 8th. Full info on all their shows can be found HERE. Don’t forget to check out their albums in iTUNES, either.

The massive field that is Panther Island was really starting to fill up now, as more and more people arrived, and several of them seemed excited to see The Quaker City Night Hawks.

“Good evening Fort Worth, Texas…” Sam Anderson sang in his rich tone, as the roots rock outfit got started. It wasn’t just a welcoming, but also the first line of their first song. The first of many new songs they did this evening, and it had been perfectly designed to be the opener, with the first few lines quite fitting of the day. Bassist Pat Adams and drummer Matt Mabe were responsible for a pretty heavy rhythm section on that song, as well; and you could already tell Mabe was thoroughly enjoying being up there, as he was giving it 110%.

“What’s up, Fort Worth?” Anderson asked, during a momentary pause before they fired up their next song. “That’s a new one,” he informed the onlookers when they had finished. “We’re glad to be here,” the singer and rhythm guitarist told everyone after another jam, before commenting on the weather. “Thank you… whoever is responsible for that,” he said, prompting one guy in the crowd to shout that he was the one behind the cooler, cloudy day. “That guy!” Anderson exclaimed and pointed, telling the crowd they should buy that man a beer.

Sans some backing vocals, David Matsler had been rather quite so far. However, he now took over on the singing duties, as they did “Fox in the Hen House”. It was the only old jam they did this night, and you could tell who was a fan of the band, because some people got quite excited when they began it. The best part was the harmonies. Everyone except keyboardist Andrew Skates sang on the chorus, “…‘Cause the fox is in the hen house now.” That number came to a mighty finish, due largely to the drums.

“We’re gonna play some new stuff for ya,” Anderson announced, before Matsler went back to singing. The percussion was so heavy on it that Mabe lost his beer because of it. “My whole beer just spilt cause of the vibrations,” he told his band mates in a very disappointed tone. He shook it off, and they got to another new song. One so new, it had never been played live before.

“Back in the winter of fifty-three, the mean ol’ devil had it out for me…” Anderson sang at the start of that dark, but engrossing track, which again had Adams, Matsler and Mabe providing some harmonies. A couple more followed, and once it was all said and done, Anderson thanked everyone who had paid attention.

“We are Quaker City Night Hawks, and we love you,” he told everyone.

Their 34-minute long set went by too fast, and if they had been able to play longer, I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with it.

This was my third time seeing these guys, and quite honestly, I think it was the best. Even topping the hour long or so set I saw them do last year, when I first caught them live.

Quaker City Night Hawks are as solid as they come, and it’s far too easy to see why they have not only became a favorite of many here in North Texas, but also established themselves as a heavyweight in the music scene.

They’re different from a lot of bands out there. Different doesn’t necessarily mean new, but they’ve found a style that they excel at and can pull off exceptionally well. They’re definitely one to keep an eye on, as they may be the next big thing to come out of the D/FW area. The potential is certainly there.

They have a gig in Roswell, New Mexico on September 19th, and then one in Amarillo, Texas at Hoots the following night. On October 24th, they’ll be marking their 5th anniversary as a band with a show in Fort Worth; and then on Halloween night you can catch them at Granada Theater in Dallas. As for albums, they have a few in iTUNES.

Next up on the schedule was something that was a real treat to the festival goers, and one band I was excited to see: Pleasant Grove.

It was only earlier this year when I first heard of them, when they performed a reunion show, which was anticipated by many. From what I later learned, the band was part of the old guard of the North Texas music scene, going back to the late 90’s, before breaking up in the mid-2000’s. Luckily for the scene, they haven’t stayed dead, and are now beginning a renaissance.

Just like many of the other bands on the bill, Pleasant Grove played a lot of newer songs they’ve cooked up.

Marcus Striplin and Bret Egner (both of whom were also the guitarists) traded off on singing during their set, with the former taking the first song, and the latter the second.

That second song also had Chris Mayes moving to the lap steel guitar that was attached to his pedal steel. Those instruments fit (and helped make) their sound, which was often melancholy, though never quite depressing.

“Thanks y’all. What’s up?” Striplin asked upon finishing those songs, before doing another that featured some duel singing from the vocalists. “The sunset’s beautiful,” Striplin then remarked. Indeed, it was. They had gotten a good time slot this day, and while a glare from one of the buildings way off in the distance had been reflecting back at them for part of the show, the sun had set enough now that it wasn’t too bad.

“Only a Mountain” was one of their classics they did this day, coming from The Art of Leaving LP, and to me, it was one of the most striking songs of their set.

Their 35-minute long set allowed them a few more, including another brand new song, titled “Pleasing You”. “…When you have the first laugh, then you can have the last dance, baby,” Striplin sang early on in it, with the rest of the song being just as creative and interesting.

He wished the crowd a “happy Dia!” after they finished, then sent everyone on their way.

These guys, which included bassist Tony Hormilosa and drummer Jeff Ryan, were another standout act of the day.

Of course, everything they did was new to me anyway, though the very little old stuff they did play still holds up nicely, and the new songs were every bit as good. Honestly, you have to wonder why these guys never “made it” and broke out on a national level back during original time together, especially considering that happened to several Dallas bands during that time. Perhaps they were just a little ahead of their time, especially with all the craze that currently surrounds genres that incorporate some folk elements to them.

However, the thing I liked most about Pleasant Grove wasn’t the music, but the lyrics. Every song was deep and highly emotional, two qualities you don’t always see together, though they make a potent mix.

If you want to stay in the loop about shows, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. They also have a couple of albums you can purchase in iTUNES.

The job of closing out the second stage went to Ume, who became the first band ever to play Dia for a second time.

“Hey, Fort Worth! We’re Ume,” singer and guitarist Lauren Larson told the crowd in a warm, friendly tone once they stepped on stage. That was about the extent of talking she did this night, though, as they focused primarily on their music in the 36-minutes they had.

“The Conductor” started their set, and right from the start, Lauren began demonstrating what a superb guitarist she is, taking the axe at one point and raising it up and behind her, where just the guitars neck was behind her neck, while she continued to shred away on it.

They threw in a couple of older songs, but mostly, they focused on Monuments, which was released earlier this year; and now drummer Aaron Perez established the steady beat that begins “Too Big World”, while Eric Larson hung back more at first, before really getting into it on the chorus. She used the instrumental break to kneel down and shred on her axe; and once she stood back up, she did a little backbend, before twirling in circles right at the tail end.

They wound it straight into “Burst”, which saw the fiery guitarist pumping her fist in the air, almost as a call to action to the onlookers, before striking the body of her guitar. After some brief silence, the trio suddenly erupted into “Embrace”, which kicked things up several notches; and afterwards, they delved more into their shoe gazey style of rock with “Hurricane II”, which is often as mesmerizing as it is raw. She again sank to her knees at one point on that track, holding her guitar vertically as she viciously picked at the strings.

While Eric and Lauren tuned, Perez started up the drum roll that begins “Oh, Fate”, a song that gradually builds, before striking with a fury. They had pretty much every set of eyes glued to them by now, and “Until The End” and “Chase It Down” further ensured that no one could turn away.

After that, Lauren took a moment to thank The Toadies for having them out, saying they were one of the first bands who ever gave them a chance, so you got the feeling that they [Ume] have immense respect for them.

They were almost done, and now reached back to 2005’s Urgent Sea and pulled out “Baby Xie-Xie”. It’s a beast of a song, especially live, with Lauren kicking the air at times, as she coordinated all of her moves perfectly with the music. The song also contained what was the best moment of their set, and it came when she fell onto her back, letting her guitar slide onto the stage beside her, before rolling somewhat on top of it, never missing a note.

All that was left now was their single, “Black Stone”, which delivered one last quick punch to the ears of the onlookers.

I’ve seen Ume half a dozen times now, and this was the best show I’ve seen them do.

Since releasing Monuments, they’ve been pretty busy making the most of the traction they started going with that single that has come from it, and all their time on the road has led to an incredible tightness. Even Perez, who has only been with the band a few months, looks like he has been a part of the outfit since the start.

The energy they pack into their shows is crazy, while their stage presence this night captivated many. Next to all that, the thing I enjoyed the most was that the vocal levels were turned up higher than normal, making every word crystal clear.

Ume’s next show will be in Houston at Fitzgerald’s on October 24th. Be sure to check out all their albums in iTUNES, too.

The main support band was one that has been around almost as long as The Toadies have, and in Texas (especially D/FW), they’re every bit as much of a staple. I’m speaking, of course, of Old 97’s.

I’m probably one of the few people left who had never seen Old 97’s before, and I was looking forward to that finally changing.

The band was all smiles as they were introduced, and then quickly got to work, coming out swinging with the upbeat and catchy “If My Heart was a Car”, off their debut, Hitchhike to Rhome. It was immediately clear they had their own fans out this night, as many sang along with singer and acoustic guitarist Rhett Miller.

“Barrier Reef” came next, and they didn’t allow any downtime between the songs. Instead, they just kept pushing themselves, with Miller putting on quite a show, even though he was often stuck behind the microphone, while lead guitarist Ken Bethea — who wore a poncho for these first few songs — raced about the stage. I was also quite impressed with the slick moves Murry Hammond worked in to his bass playing.

Two songs in and I was already questioning myself in how and why I had never seen these guys before.

“How y’all doing tonight?” the friendly Miller asked, adding that it was a beautiful night, while some mangled guitar chords set up their next number. It was “Dance with Me”, and the semi-dark song had a real sense of urgency to it. Before hitting the second verse, Miller proceeded to jump around some. He clearly had a lot of energy pent up, and he still had plenty of time to work on getting it all out.

As they stopped, the vocalist made everyone aware that it had also been twenty years since they released their debut record, at a time when he was roommates with Clark Vogeler, who later went on to become The Toadies lead guitarist. “That was a lot of fucking years ago,” he said rather simply, before their attention shifted to the recently released album, Most Messed Up, doing the lead track, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”. The song that somewhat chronicles their adventures over the last couple decades seemed to come at just the right time in the show, helping set the stage for the rest of their set.

“Cheers!” Hammond yelled afterwards, though he raised a bottle of water to the sky, an action that caught a little flak from some of the patrons, who wondered where his beer was. He paid them no mind, though. “I was born here. Grew up in the sticks out that way,” he said, pointing towards the general direction. He let everyone know the only reason he every even got to Dallas was to see a Dead Kennedys show, and then thought to himself, “I’ll stay here and do this.” It worked out for him.

He now took over on the reins, singing the very country sounding “West Texas Teardrops”, which was followed by what Miller called a “straight up love song”. “It’s called Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On!” he announced. It may have been another new song, but it was one fans have apparently quickly taken to, as many threw their fists into the air at the chorus, shouting along, “Let’s drink whiskey and do it all night long! Let’s get drunk and get it on!

Drummer Philip Peeples got a shout-out from his band mates as he got the next song going, which happened to be “Four Leaf Clover”. The very Western sounding track saw both Bethea and Miller leaping into the air when they could, with Bethea eventually making his way over to stage left, where he and Hammond worked off one another as they picked away at their instruments. They then returned to their debut record, doing a slightly more intense version of “Stoned”.

“What a great night!” Miller said excitedly, later on mentioning how pumped up he was to see The Toadies, and that he made sure to bring his ear plugs just so he could stand right in front of the speakers for them. They weren’t quite done with their new record yet, and now did “This is the Ballad”, which was quite deep. “A State of Texas” appealed to everyone’s Texas pride (at least I know it did mine); and Miller flat-out killed it on his acoustic for that one.

“This is off the new one,” Hammond simply said, before singing another tune, this one being “The Ex of All You See”, which was one of the most infectious things they did this night (and that’s saying a lot). Miller chatted with the audience for a bit, again thanking them, before doing another oldie, “Big Brown Eyes”, which was instantly followed by “Nashville”, a song that had some laughing as he (with the help of Hammond at times) sang the opening line, “I married Caroline back in May of ’99. It was fucked up at the time, but I figured we’d keep trying…” It was far from a humorous song, though, and is instead a reflective number about trying to figure out why nothing ever works out.

Upon finishing “Rollerskate Skinny”, Miller climbed atop his amp, stretching his arms towards the sky. You could tell they were building to something. He then got some serious air when he jumped; while they ripped into the final song of their 54-minute long set, “Time Bomb”.

The song about infatuation brought their performance to a roaring finish, with Miller waving goodbye and exiting the stage once it was done, while the rest of Old 97’s threw some picks at the crowd, before doing the same.

Seriously, how have I been a fan and avid supporter of the D/FW music scene for nearly a decade, but never seen Old 97’s before? I don’t know how I screwed up so badly.

I thought their performance was extraordinary, to the point they almost, almost unintentionally stole some of the thunder away from The Toadies.

From start to finish, their set was explosive, as they tackled a variety of songs, some of which almost sounded like a cross between country and rock (and at times even punk), while others more fit the lines of your typical (and true) country songs.

They’ll be on the road from the end of September through mid-October, and their tour dates can be found HERE. You can sample all of their albums in iTUNES (and I know I will soon start adding them to my collection.)

The day had been long, but with nonstop music, it passed quick; and now, it was finally time for the band of the hour: The Toadies.

After being on the road in support of the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck for much of the last five to six months or so, this was going to be the final gig of the tour. For me, this show was also going to complete a trifecta. I had seen their Dallas stop of the tour back in May, and in July I made the jaunt up to Denton, when they kicked off another leg of the tour. And now, I was excited to hear Rubberneck front to back once more, and for perhaps the final time ever.

It was 9:53 when Doni Blair, Vaden Todd Lewis, Mark Reznicek and Clark Vogeler walked onto the stage, waving and smiling at the fans. Most had gathered around the stage for a good view of everything, while others watched from a distance, relaxing in lawn chairs or just sitting on the grass.

Lewis approached the edge of the stage, still grinning at the fans, before starting them off on “Mexican Hairless”. The instrumental jam sent fans jumping about and cheering, while others banged their heads along to the aggressive piece. Right as it ended, Vogeler launched them into “Mister Love”. “Are you gonna save me? Can you save me?” Lewis growled in a raw, gravelly tone throughout the track. His voice sounded even more striking (and at times even terrifying) than at either of the other shows I had seen this year, making it clear that this performance of the album was going to be a cut above the rest. On top of that, the singer was constantly making different gestures with his hands or waving his fingers around; and at the final, “Can you save me?”, he stretched his arms out to the side, almost like he was basking in the love from the fans.

While they were busy playing the music, several beach balls had been tossed out in the crowd, which may be stereotypical of festivals, but all the same was fun, as people kept batting them away whenever they got close.

The band wound it right into “Backslider”; and as excited as fans were to hear that rocking number, it paled in comparison to the reaction “Possum Kingdom” got, which was not just screams and yells, but also people turning towards their friends and high fiving them. It was pure ecstasy for everyone as they sang right along, “And I promise you, I will treat you well. My sweet angel, so help me, Jesus.”

The string of beloved songs just kept coming, with “Quitter” sounding even angrier than normal as Lewis spit out the lyrics; and the hefty rhythm section of Reznicek and Blair continued to show their teeth during “Away”, which ended with Vogeler rocking out by his amp, getting the guitar tones as good as they could possibly be.

As Lewis has said at the past shows, he doesn’t like to speak during this portion of the set, as he wants to keep this live experience of Rubberneck as authentic as possible. That also extends to the usual sing along parts in the songs, like “Away”, which instead was handled completely by the band. However, one song where they couldn’t get away with that was “I Come From the Water”. Everyone knew the drill and didn’t even have to be told what to do as they hit the chorus, and the throng of fans shouted at the top of their lungs. It creates a moment that’s quite bonding for Toadies fans.

The most interesting part of the night came during “Tyler”, which was memorable to say the least. Shortly after singing, “I stumble in the hallway,” The Toadies blew out the speakers. The look of confusion on the faces of the band members as well as the crowd was hilarious in hindsight, as everyone was left scratching their head and looking around for a second, like, “Wait. What just happened?” Even without the amps, you could still somewhat hear the bass, drums and guitars, and the band went on playing, though they looked unsure. That was when fans showed their mettle. It was like instinct, everyone knew what to do, as they began singing the final noises from the tune, “Yeah-eh-a. Oh-oh-oh…”. It was far more audible than any of the instruments, and it was concrete proof of not only people’s love of these songs, but also their love for this band.

“I think we broke it,” Lewis said after they got it fixed, which happened as soon as the song ended. For the record, having the speakers blow is how you know you’ve seen a killer concert; and they were still just getting warmed up.

They got back on track, racing through the final three songs, as Reznicek bridged them from “Happy Face” into “Velvet”, and they only stopped long enough for Lewis to get a twelve-string acoustic guitar, before concluding the Rubberneck set with “I Burn”. “Sift the ashes for reminders; stony things remain,” Lewis sang, using his bullet mic for a couple of lines, as he placed his left palm into the air, before clenching his fist.

38-minutes was how long it took this night to run through those eleven songs, and they were far from done.

“That was the Rubberneck set,” remarked Lewis, also mentioning how “fucking crazy” it was that it has been twenty years. He was equally amazed by the fact that Dia de los Toadies was now in its seventh year. “This is the most fun one I think we’ve had yet,” he said of the festival, before saying if everybody was down, they’d do some more songs.

“Push the Hand” got the remainder of their 64-minute long set going, and it seemed to reinvigorate the crowd, as well as the mosh-pit, which was small, but had been going on throughout the show. During the last brief instrumental break, Blair and Lewis walked towards one another, interacting a bit as they jammed. The subsequent track from Hell Below/Stars Above, “Little Sin”, came next, though they axed the extended outro they often give the song. Instead, they jumped right into “No Deliverance”, which I thought sounded even better than normal this night. For example, there was something about the line, “I saw black monsters twisted in love,” and the way Lewis sang it that was just quite gripping this night.

“Are we still having fun?” he asked afterwards, a question that was answered by a resounding amount of cheers. They took time out to thank all the bands who had played, including the Old 97’s, who Vogeler joked would surely be going somewhere.

Blair then switched to a different bass before starting them on “Summer of the Strange” — one of the only new songs they did this night. Not that anyone had a problem with that. “…This is our indulgent three and a half minutes, bear with us,” cracked Lewis before they busted out their rendition of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, a song that they quite possibly played for the final time this night.

“Oh, shit! I’ve got to start this one,” Lewis said, sounding a little apprehensive. He bought himself some time by telling everyone that several years ago he had written a song that he was now regretting writing. “It’s the most difficult song I’ve ever written,” he stated, leading everyone to wonder what it could be. I was racking my brain trying to figure it out, and I doubt I was alone.

I was not expecting “Hell Below/Stars Above” — a song I had only heard live once, nearly five years ago — but that was what they did. It made for a truly surprising moment, catching every single fan off guard; and the best part came at the end, where one of their techs added his voice to the mix. He could sing, and it helped make that gospel-like ending more like how it sounds on the recording. The thing I like most about that title track from their sophomore album is how it changes midway though, yet it still sounds like the same song. As Lewis said, it’s a difficult song, but it’s also a beautiful one, and it capped off this main set fantastically.

They were gone all of a couple minutes, before the noise from fans brought them back out. “Do y’all want some more songs?” Lewis asked, acting as though he was shocked. “We’ll play some more songs,” he added, before they broke into the primal, “Sweetness”, which was another track that had the singer making different motions with his hand at times as he sang.

They had another cover planned, and Lewis went back twenty years, mentioning that some of the songs from the original Rubberneck recording session had been cut. One of those was a cover of Pylon’s “Stop it”, and for that one, Lauren Larson of Ume joined them, tearing it up on her axe. The fans and the band were really digging that one. For starters, each time Lewis began clapping along, the fans did, too; and on the second chorus, Vogeler began jumping around.

“You guys tired?” Lewis then asked, a question that was met with a forceful, “NO!” The band then returned to their second album, performing the final track from it, “Doll Skin”. It had sounded great acoustic the night before, but there’s something about the electric version. It’s not exactly an all-out rock number, nor is that soft. Still, out of everything they had done, it’s not what you would think would be a perfect crowd surfing song, yet that was exactly what one man did, as he had his friends hoist him in the air.

“You’ve been fantastic. Thank you so much,” Lewis told the attendees, before extending that to cover their crew who put this on and everyone who had any part of it. “I’m from Fort Worth, I’m a big fan of Fort Worth, and this is all fucking Fort Worth right here,” he finished, before saying they would be leaving everyone with this. “This” was “Rattler’s Revival”. Fans again clapped along whenever they saw the frontman doing it; and really, what a fitting song to end their 19-minute long encore with. Not just because it’s a hard-hitting number, but because it’s one of the newest things in their catalog, and after spending most of 2014 on the road, focusing on their twenty-year-old debut, why not look ahead to the future, and hopefully, another twenty years, or even more.

I was thinking about it this day and Dia was the eighth festival I’ve seen/covered this year.

I’ve really come to enjoy the festival atmosphere; but as fun as all of those others have been, there’s one thing that’s different about Dia de los Toadies, and that’s what made me enjoy it not only more than those other festivals, but also more than ever: it’s because everybody there has an undying love for The Toadies.

It’s really cool to go to something like this and know that the common denominator is that everyone enjoys the same band. It breeds a real sense of camaraderie, and that is a special feeling.

So, kudos to The Toadies for giving their fans something like this to congregate at once a year. Here’s to hoping it continues for many more to come.

As for their set itself, it was solid as ever. This is a band that has a real staying power, even more than twenty years into it, and that was clear once more this night in Fort Worth.

They do have a few more shows this year. One will be in Houston at the Untapped Fest on September 20th. Another will be in Pharr, Texas at the Pharr Events Center on October 19th, with an Austin date at Emo’s on December 26th. Let’s not forget about Dia de los Toadies 8, which should be happening in September 2015. As for their albums, the remastered version of Rubberneck can be purchased at KIRTLAND RECORDS, while everything else can be found at iTUNES.

(Read my review of night 1 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Friday, September 12th, 2014 – The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Night I – An (Almost) Acoustic Party at The Shack

Another September can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual Dia de los Toadies.

This was the seventh one the iconic Fort Worth band The Toadies had put together (well, them and their team at Kirtland Records), and it seemed to further prove that seven is the bands lucky number.

Seven years from the release of Rubberneck to Hell Below/Stars Above; seven years from their breakup to their revival; an now, the seventh year of Dia just so happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck. It is a bit of a strange coincidence if nothing else.

For the second year in a row, Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth was hosting the festival; and originally, this first night of it was supposed to take place outside. Leave it to Texas to have freak weather, though. A cold front had moved in the night before, dropping temperatures into the 70’s (when it’s usually 90 something, yeah, that’s cold), while rain and mist made the conditions even less pleasant. So, rather last minute, the show was moved indoors to a building called The Shack, which sits in the main parking lot of Panther Island Pavilion.

It was a large warehouse/hanger, giving it quite an industrial feel, which somehow, just seemed to fit the bands.

It has become tradition that the first night of this now weekend long festival is an acoustic one, or as they call it, almost acoustic. I actually witnessed it the first year it was ever attempted, back at the 5th annual Dia down in New Braunfels; and after skipping the acoustic night the previous year, I was looking forward to hearing the reworked songs again.

Kicking off the night was the Denton-based singer/songwriter Doug Burr, whom I had not seen in probably a couple years, and I was looking forward to finally having another opportunity at seeing him.

Most of Doug Burr’s set consisted of new songs, though he did throw in a couple of oldies for everybody. “Red, Red” was one of those, coming from the already four-year-old album, O Ye Devastator. Burr wasn’t alone, and he was joined by a fellow guitarist, Dave; while Burr was seated, allowing him to add some percussion via a small kick drum.

The thing I enjoy most about his music is the fact that it tells stories, much like the way, say, Bruce Springsteen does (though the style of writing is the only comparison that could be made between those two artists.) That was shown on every track he played this night, with the beginning line from one going, “There was blood in our tracks, all covered in snow…” Whatever the title of that one may have been, it was actually one of my favorites, thanks largely to notes Dave threw in. He was quiet on his guitar at times, but struck at just the right moments to really accent the song, making for some great underlying notes.

They ditched the acoustic mood with “I Got This Fever/O Ye Devastator”. It may not have been true to the electric form of the recorded version, but their acoustics got pretty loud, while Burr kept his foot busy with that pedal for the small kick drum, giving the song some roaring percussion.

“Dave and I spent all day fixing this place up, didn’t we Dave?” Burr joked afterwards, saying they had been the ones responsible for getting everything set up after the team decided to move the show indoors. The duo then did another song, and upon finishing it, Burr informed everyone they had spent this last year working on a new record. “It’s alright,” he said, sounding almost completely indifferent. “We’re proud of it. The record, not the year,” he added, a joke which was either said so dryly people didn’t get it, or they just didn’t think it was too funny. I, however, thought it was pretty good. He let the audience know they were from the “good ol’ state of Denton, Texas,” and then they unleashed another new track on the people’s ears.

Not only was the song loud, but Burr sang it at a near machine-gun pace, prompting Dave to tell him afterwards that, that “wasn’t very acoustic.” “We’re keeping it almost acoustic, just like the rules say,” the singer quipped, before they ended their 30-minute long set with a couple more new tunes.

From the first time I saw him, I was a fan of Doug Burr, continuing to catch him whenever I was able; but lately, it doesn’t seem like he’s played too much. That said, having gone so long without seeing a performance, I had forgotten what an astounding singer/songwriter he is. Really, he’s one of the most talented here in the D/FW area.

He proved it quick this night, and with each passing song, he further established that is fact.

He has a remarkable voice; prominently displayed his storytelling chops this night; and even showed off some pretty good wit.

His next show will be on October 3rd at Three Links in Dallas. Also, head over to iTUNES where you can find his records; and according to what he said this night, he’ll finally have a new release out in January.

With Old 97’s providing direct support the following night, The Toadies had tapped Rhett Miller to do a solo set on this acoustic show, and I was interested in seeing him. See, not only had I never seen him solo before, I had never seen him live at all; and after all the good words about he and Old 97’s, I was expecting something special.

Sure enough, Miller delivered.

His 35-minute long set had two parts to it, and the first were all songs that belonged either to him or Old 97’s. After mentioning this venue was a “good plan B” for The Toadies to use, he launched into one of a few tales of heartache this night, “Lost Without You”. “…She was not like the rest, until she left…” he sang, filling that line (and several others) with loads of emotion this night.

It got his set off to a good start; and then, he began to reminisce. Miller mentioned he had known The Toadies for a while, especially “the guitar player”, “Who’s going to be playing keys tonight,” he stated. He was referring to Clark Vogeler, who used to be in a band called Fun Land. Miller said as much, and even though that was long time before I was introduced to the local scene, I have of course heard lore of Fun Land. However, I did not know they went by the name Melt before adopting that other moniker. Miller pointed that out and said he enjoyed the band so much back then, he wrote a song about them. Aptly, the song was titled “Melt Show”, and it was on it he began showing off his more rock and even punk side. The fast paced tune allowed him to bang his head around; and he did the ol’ standard windmill move to pluck at his guitar, executing it so fluidly and effortlessly, you just had to marvel at it.

He wound things right in to “Wasted”, which was one of a few songs he did this night that revolved around getting drunk. Even though the only instrument was his acoustic guitar, Miller managed to make the song incredibly catchy; while the opening line of “I’m gonna play guitar till my fingers fall off, sing till my voice is gone…” already seemed fitting of his behavior this night.

“It’s true,” he laughed, speaking of the line, “Tonight, I’m gonna get wasted with you.” That may have happened later, but for now, he was all about the music. “Come Around” was another track he did from his solo career, bringing things back down, and highlighting his falsetto tone on that lovely track. He was in the zone now, hitting these next few tracks one right after the other. “Won’t be Home” came next, and it further enlivened the crowd, while the cheery and infectious “Singular Girl” pulled everyone more into it.

“Woo!” Miller exclaimed upon finishing it, thanking everyone for watching him, and also saying he had heard The Toadies sound check, and that people were in for a treat. “…Tomorrow night I’ll be here with Old 97’s,” he mentioned, but then stated it felt good to be here by himself this night. That said, the concluded his original portion with “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On”, a song that was rowdy even done solo, and a lot of spectators seemed to look at it as an anthem, cheering at each chorus.

People were left wondering what was coming next, especially since Miller had laid his acoustic guitar down now. Clark Vogeler then stepped on stage, took a seat behind the keyboard, and spoke into his microphone asking if it was live. Yeah, it definitely was, and suddenly and unexpectedly hearing his voice caused some people to jump a bit.

Miller mentioned that when he found out he’d be playing this event, he and Vogeler immediately started “hatching plans” as to how they could collaborate. They decided on this, having Vogeler play his keys, while Miller said he was just going to stand there and sing. “Which is terrifying,” he confessed in a moment of pure honesty. If he truly did feel that way, he didn’t show it this night, and after informing the crowd that some “sad, beautiful shit” was about to happen, they started tackling a series of covers.

The first was a moving rendition of Elvis Costellos’ “Almost Blue”, a song that seemed perfect for Miller to cover, as its vibe went with many of the other songs he had done. He now looked to the past, telling everyone that he and Vogeler used to be roommates “for years and years”. “He taught me all the good music I know,” Miller admitted, saying that included Elliot Smith. The duo covered “Baby Britain”, with Miller laughing afterwards that they should take this to LA and “play one of those dark bars”. “The Dresden,” Vogeler recommended, with Miller joking they’d need to get some sports coats before doing it.

Miller then regaled everyone with another story of when the two were roommates. “He didn’t know how to play piano back then,” Miller said of Vogeler, and he really did seem impressed by his friend’s abilities on the keys. “He barely knew how to play guitar then, too,” cracked Miller. A sweeter song they did this night was “This Will be Our Year” by The Zombies, a song Miller later mentioned was not easy to play on the piano, and that Vogeler deserved some props for it.

“Thanks for bearing with this crazy experiment,” he finished, as they rounded things out with David Bowies’ “Changes”. “Ch-ch-ch-ch changes, turn and face the strange…” Miller belted on the chorus, injecting some punk elements into the song by his manner of singing, which sounded a bit mismatched considering the keys, yet it went together.

Rhett Miller was highly entertaining from start to finish. The singer lived up to all the praise I have heard surround him, and actually, he was far better than I even thought he’d be.

He had no trouble owning the stage completely, even up there all by himself. He was a ball of raw energy; and while he may have been tied to the mic stand this night, he never let that hinder him.

He has some tour dates coming up, scattered across the country and spread out over the next few months. You can find a full list HERE. As for his solo records, you can purchase them in iTUNES.

The crowd was fairly thick as The Toadies start time neared, and I’d guess there were at least around a couple hundred people in the impromptu venue, most of whom were packed in, in front of the stage. They had waited long enough, and after a sound check had been done, the room started to fill with screams and chants, as people hoped to make the band appear.

And they did.

“We having fun yet?” Vaden Todd Lewis asked after sitting down on his stool. “I’ve been having fun,” he added, before officially welcoming the attendees to the seventh annual Dia de los Toadies. He sounded skeptical when remarking, “We’ll see how this goes,” and then they were off.

The music bed for “Backslider” was largely the same, and people knew it almost instantly and often sang louder than the band was. Just further proof that those songs from Rubberneck are still what fans enjoy the most. While it may have been similar, there were still some changes to the track, and it was quite restrained over the version people know by heart. Part of that was due to Clark Vogeler, who was on the piano all night, and on this song, it had a very old timey, almost ragtime style.

Those iconic songs were peppered sparingly across their setlist; and now, Lewis switched from his six-string guitar to a twelve. Mark Reznicek had his full drum kit in front of him, and he began the next song with some beats that sounded like it went with “Magic Bullet”, and sure enough, it did. Considering how thick the song is, it wasn’t one I was expecting acoustic, though the retooled rendition of the song was still quite heavy.

“Pretty great, huh?” Lewis remarked, while Doni Blair swapped out his electric bass for an upright one, a sight I had never seen before, nor ever thought I’d see. The intro for the next song was weird, which made it unrecognizable. It wasn’t until Lewis sang the first line, “I come from the water, I crawled up on the shore,” that the fans roared, and started to sing right along with “I Come From the Water”, and once more their collective voice was often louder than the bands. Lewis snapped his fingers while singing the second chorus; and during the instrumental break, the keys were again very prevalent.

That finished getting everyone warmed up on this chillier night, and the noise that followed that fan favorite was deafening. They switched gears after that, however. “…This is a new piece that’s intended to bum you the fuck out,” Lewis stated. If that was indeed their mission, than “The Appeal” certainly accomplished it. The final track from 2012’s Play.Rock.Music is one of the most powerful ones the band has ever produced (emotionally speaking), as was clear right from the start, with the line, “I wish I could tell you the way that I feel. I know that I failed you, so I make my appeal…” It’s soaked in both desperation and sadness; and for the most part, the crowd just looked on and watched, while others chatted with friends, since very few people seemed to know the lyrics. Then they got to the final verse, and Lewis, who had been pretty gentle so far, kicked it into overdrive, and belted out that last portion with a fiery passion. It was easily the most powerful moment of this set.

The electric bass and twelve-string guitar were both back in play now as they continued to keep fans on their toes. “We’re gonna play a Blondie song now,” Lewis informed everyone. “You think I’m fucking you, but we’re gonna do a Blondie song,” he added, stressing this wasn’t a joke. If you had seen them at all this year, then you knew he wasn’t kidding, because they’ve made “Heart of Glass” into a staple during this 20th Anniversary Rubberneck Tour. The acoustic setting was actually pretty behooving of it; while next up was a song that I hoped, though seriously doubted would be done acoustic.

“There it is!” a guy shouted as Lewis went back to the mandolin. He proceeded to pluck the strings of it, making a very interesting chord progression. “Is this Rattler’s?” I thought to myself. Sure enough, they had created an alternate version to the single from their 2012 release. “Rattler’s Revival” was entrancing to say the least, and it sounded more like what either traditional Middle Eastern music or even Indian music sounds like, being more of a cross between the two. The music bed wasn’t the only thing that had undergone a massive change, though. The words on the usually venomous song were more spoken rather than sung, which helped in creating an eerie feeling as Lewis spoke of being void of emotion, just like a snake. That pace continued right up to the end, when Reznicek repeatedly tapped one of the cymbals, which made it just a little creepier.

“It’s going pretty good,” Vogeler remarked afterwards, sounding somewhat surprised. Lewis then thanked their “wonderful, fantabulous crew”, calling out Dwayne and Wes by name. Those two crew members/techs had already been doing a lot this night, adding different instruments to the mix, even if it was something as simple as a shaker.

He went on to drop word of their next album, saying they had been having so much fun with this first night of Dia over the past few years that they decided to make a record in this vein. “…It’s even weirder than this shit,” he remarked. So, Toadies fans have that to look forward to in 2015.

They kept working away on that latest album with “Beside You”, and while it was more rock based — roaring to life on each chorus — they also put a fun twist on it, in the form of Dwayne adding a banjo into the mix. It folkified the song a bit. Next came a very special treat for all those who had decided to venture out here, even if the weather may have been better suited for staying at home: they got to hear a new song for the first time ever. I had trouble understanding the title, though I think it was “Belly of the Whale” (a line which was repeated here and there in the song). It was a super catchy song. Honestly, probably one of the most infectious things these guys have ever cranked out. “…I tried to sink my demons in the deep, so catch me if you can,” Lewis sang at a couple points during the track, a line that guaranteed it fit The Toadies mold.

“We’ve literally never played that before,” Vogeler pointed out, before they started joking that they had just made that all up on the spot. “Doni improvised it,” Vogeler said, while the bassist went with it and shook his head, like, “Yeah, I did.”

An acoustic show would not be complete without “Doll Skin”; a track I hadn’t heard in a couple years. The bass was dominant throughout, giving it a real punch, while the keys also had some time to shine, which balanced it all out.

“You may or may not know this is the twentieth anniversary of Rubberneck,” Lewis remarked afterwards, mentioning how “crazy” that was, and expressing his gratitude to everyone for coming out, not just this night, but over all the years. Fans were delighted to hear the song that became the bands breakout hit — “Possum Kingdom” — which sounded more or less the same, even with the addition of the banjo. The keys were quite prominent on it, too; and the instrumental jam at the end was killer.

Help from their road crew was again needed as they got ready for the special cover song they had worked up for this year’s show, and Wes used the twelve-string, while Lewis had the six-string axe. Apparently, David Bowie was the popular artist of the night, because The Toadies tried their hand at “Heroes”, pulling it off beautifully. Toadies fans don’t often get to hear the softer tones Lewis is capable of, which he got to display better on this song than anything else they did this night, and it was amazing.

“…The tiny guitar is back…” he laughed after having plugged the mandolin back in. He thanked Rhett Miller and Doug Burr for opening, along with all the fans for showing up to make this possible, adding that they would be “loud as shit” the next night. “I love playing Fort Worth…” he concluded.

Their 55-minute long set came to a close with a song that they haven’t gotten to end with at all this year: “Tyler”. Even on a mandolin, the opening chords are unmistakable, and, like always, everyone was singing along to every last word of the classic.

The band waved their goodbyes, saying they’d see everyone the following night, but the fans had other things in mind.

I was actually a little taken aback by how much noise the audience made; making it crystal clear they wanted an encore. After a couple minutes, the band felt compelled to come back out, though they had nothing else left to give.

“We’ve been rehearsing like this for eight days!” Vogeler stated. “We didn’t expect this,” Lewis added, referring to fans wanting an encore, and he kindly let everyone know they had just played everything they knew how to in this setting.

People were okay with that then, but I bet next year, these guys will be sure to throw in at least one more song so they’ll have an encore at their disposal if necessary.

The acoustic set was superb. The band did a nice mix of songs from a variety of albums, while the two covers fit nicely, and that new tune whet fans’ appetites for what’s to come in the world of The Toadies. Aside from that, as a fan, it’s just really cool to hear such unique versions of these songs.

All in all, this was not a bad way to get the weekend going; and now it was time for everyone to go home and get ready for the daylong festivities.

(Read my review of day 2 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 – EDJ Electrifies the Crowd at Granada Theater

This night at the Granada Theater may have been all about Delta Spirit, though EDJ was charged with warming up all of the headliners’ Dallas fans, and there were a couple hundred there by the time nine-o’clock rolled around.

Eric D. Johnson stood alone on the sizable stage, sans the guitar he clutched and the keyboard that sit in front of him.

The rest of the instruments (such as drums) came in the form of sample tracks, which fired up as he began his first song, “Lose it All, All the Time”. As soon as he opened his mouth, his semi-nasally voice proved to be the most distinctive quality about him; while the song — which was the first of many he did from his recently released debut album — was overwhelmingly cheery.

“It’s good to be back in Dallas,” Johnson remarked, pointing out this was his first night of this tour with Delta Spirit, which meant the folks of North Texas were getting a very fresh performance from him, before the road had a chance to perhaps take a toll.

“Mostly Just Fantasies” had more of a minimalist sound to it, with the musician crooning at the start, “…There’s two kinds of people: those who are and those who aren’t…”. He then segued things directly into the next song, informing the crowd he used to be in a band called Fruit Bats, which drew a strong reaction from the onlookers. “This is something from that band,” he finished, before launching into “Dolly”. The all too catchy song left the audience singing his praises and applauding him, prompting a very sincere, “Thanks, guys!”, before keeping the chill mood going with “Odd Love”.

“For Joy” was perhaps the most impassioned song of Johnsons’ 41-minute long set, with the raw emotion radiating from his voice out to the audiences, who was cheering throughout the amazing track. The drums had been quiet for some time now, but the sample tracks with them kicked back up, taking him into another strong number.

“…You guys are cool!” he told the crowd before taking things back down some with “Child in the Wild”, a song which focused on how much more simple things were when you were young, and I think it had everyone there getting a little nostalgic. It was undeniable that what people loved the most about “For the Boy Who Moved Away” was the harmonica Johnson used at times, while he gently plucked the strings of his guitar with his fingers. The spectators were raving about that harmonica, which wasn’t even used much on that one, but he was about to give everyone a good taste of it.

“…This has more harmonica. I think you guys will like that…” he laughed before his final number, which didn’t require the guitar at all. “I save all my harmonica shit for the end,” he laughed, as he ended with “Minor Miracles”. The highlight came when he let out a powerful solo on that harmonica, and then walked over to stage right, where he continued singing the song, without a microphone. The track was light enough and the crowd was keeping silent, so you could still hear nearly every word he sang. The crowd looked on in awe, and it made for an awesome moment.

EDJ’s set was far better than I think anyone had anticipated.

Considering it was just Johnson, he commanded the crowd’s attention quite well, truly making it difficult to pull your eyes away from him. His voice was distinctive and uniquely his, fitting with his semi-quirky songs that were filled with emotion.

His music may have been vastly different from Delta Spirits’, but he set the stage perfectly for them.

EDJ will be on tour for most of September, with another series of dates in the latter part of October. A full list can be found HERE. You can also purchase his album in iTUNES.

Sunday, September 7th, 2014 – Starmother Serves Up Some Bluesy Rock at Gas Monkey

Despite being a free show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, there wasn’t much of a crowd on this Sunday. That can’t be totally unexpected, given the bill consisted of a couple local acts and a touring band that I doubt anyone was familiar with beforehand.

Still, a little more than fifty people or were scattered around the massive patio that houses the outdoor stage; and those who did show up were rewarded with a show that they will not soon forget.

Opening the show was Starmother (who, until recently, was known as The Neckties); and while I had been aware of the band for a couple years, I had never managed to catch a show before this.

A new moniker also means new music; and in their 33-minute long set, they played many of the songs off their forthcoming Electric Mistress EP, opening with the title track, “Electric Mistress”. The instrumental piece got things off to a roaring start, with bluesy tones from lead and rhythm guitarists Charley Wiles and Blake Cheek, respectively; while Troy Bruner added a lot of tenacity with some pulse-pounding drumbeats, and bassist Robert Burroughs helped intensify that mighty rhythm section.

“How we doing tonight?” Blake asked everyone, while Troy bridged them into their next song. “We’re happy to be here with y’all,” he added, after letting everyone know who they were, and then they ripped into “Flat Broke Blues”. The band’s style is a mix of rock and blues, and it was demonstrated very well on that song, which was often rather fiery, with some sweet licks thrown in.

They kept the new songs coming, doing one that ended with a wicked instrumental finish, really highlighting these guys musicianship. The action packed end from it then spilled over into “I Don’t Need”, which was blistering from start to finish; and shortly into it, Blake sit his guitar down, embracing more of a frontman role as he belted out the lines on this soulful rock number.

They kept the adrenaline-pumping pace up with “Way Down”, incorporating a lot of energy into the song that was just a little more than two-minutes. Robert and Troy then took the reins, beginning a very rhythm driven intro for “Just Another Man”. It was a change of pace from everything thus far, as they slowed things down and showed off the softer side they are capable of. “…I don’t want to be just another man…” Blake crooned on the chorus of the song that was teeming with emotion. They also worked a great jam session into the song, which spiked once Charley knocked out a solo, and then the other instruments proceeded to escalate.

“We have an album coming out…” Blake told the onlookers, saying it would be out sometime this year. With that, they jumped back to the Chop & Change record they released under the old band name back in 2012, doing “Southside”. The name may have changed, but the style of music they play hasn’t much (apart from a little tighter sound), so that classic still fit with everything else. They had just one left after that, going straight into another jam that showed off their more tender side.

I’m really hating that it took me so long to see these guys. Their performance this night was great, and they put a lot of energy into it.

Blake possesses a great voice, often putting a lot of heart into his singing, while the music has a slightly fresh sound to it. They pull off the bluesy rock genre very well too, easily earning a top spot amongst other similar acts here in the D/FW area.

They have a couple of shows planned for October, one at Lola’s in Fort Worth on the 3rd, the other at Sundown at Granada in Dallas on the 11th.

Sunday, September 7th, 2014 – Goodnight Ned is Spot-On at Gas Monkey

Despite being a free show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, there wasn’t much of a crowd on this Sunday. That can’t be totally unexpected, given the bill consisted of a couple local acts and a touring band that I doubt anyone was familiar with beforehand.

Still, a little more than fifty people or were scattered around the massive patio that houses the outdoor stage; and those who did show up were rewarded with a show that they will not soon forget.

The main support slot this night went to Goodnight Ned; who had released their debut album a little more than a month before this. And after regrettably missing that show, I was looking forward to finally seeing the Dallas-based rock/Americana band again, and now knowing most of the songs.

They focused heavily (though not exclusively) on Ned this night, opening with the vibrant “50,000 Years”, which seems to play to all their strong suits. The keys are often the driving force of the moody song; and about halfway through, Jonas Martin hopped up from his chair as he continued to bang away on the keyboard. The multi-part harmonies were also in full force, as Jonas, guitarist Conner Farrall, drummer Michael Munoz and bassist Matt Trimble chimed in with singer and guitarist Chase McMillan, creating an amazing texture.

“…One. Two. Three. Four,” Jonas counted, before starting them off on “Now I’m Gone”. He didn’t get far before stopping. “Wait, that’s not right,” he remarked, while his band mates and their large section of friends/fans chuckled. He got the notes right the second time around; and he also took over on the lead vocals, with some of the other guys lending their voices here and there on the soulful jam.

Upon finishing it, Connor made the official introduction, telling those watching that they were Goodnight Ned. “…AKA Starmother’s newest, biggest fans,” he added, giving props to the opener.  Their 41-minute long set then continued as they went back to the Smoke From the Sails album from a couple years ago, doing “Papa Jack’s Bag”. The highlight of it came at the extended instrumental outro they gave the track, which featured a lively piano solo.

After another song — which again had Jonas at the helm — the pianist informed everyone they had a cover planned, and it was by Father John Misty. “…He’ll be here in spirit in about five seconds,” he laughed, before they tried their hand at “This is Sally Hatchet”. It could seem like an odd song to cover, but a few months before this they did a show here at Gas Monkey doing a whole set of covers from Father John Misty. Chase was in charge of singing on it; and the bass lines Matt was knocking out sounded very robust, adding a little more kick to the tune.

“We’re happy to be here with you,” Conner mentioned afterwards, pointing out that the headliner, The Picturebooks, had come all the way from Germany. “Well, we came all the way from Lower Greenville,” Jonas added, before saying this next song was another off their album they had for sale. “No it’s not,” Chase told him, smiling at him. “Why do I keep saying stupid shit?!” Jonas asked aloud. At least he was able to laugh at himself.

Instead, they did one of the newer songs they have. Conner finally showed off his voice on it, which is smoother in comparison to Chase’s; while nearly the whole band partook in the chorus, “…Everyone knows you’re the scarlet letter.” They offered up one more, before Michael wound them right in to their closing number. “This is also a song about birds. But wolves, too, I guess,” Jonas informed everyone as they built up to “Wolves & Crows”. The aggressive song is arguably their best; and towards the end of it, Chase tore off from his mic, walking back towards the drums as they shredded on a quick instrumental portion.

I’ve got to say, it was nice finally being able to see these guys and be familiar with their songs. I also think this was perhaps the best Goodnight Ned show I’ve seen. It may not have been perfect, but the way they handled themselves was.

All five guys were working perfectly with one another, each delivering a precise performance that contributed to them being a well-oiled machine this night. You could tell they were in tune with one another every single second they were on that stage. That’s perhaps an unexpected side effect from all the harmonies that they utilize, because there’s even less room for error.

Even their movements were often done in time with each other, though it felt like they were just going with the flow rather than it being rehearsed.

With the recent release of Ned, Goodnight Ned has had a lot of buzz surrounding them, and if you saw the show this night, you know exactly why they are deserving of it. They really are a shining talent here in the scene.

They don’t have any shows listed on their calendar at the moment; though you should go check out their records in iTUNES.

Saturday, September 6th – SpaceCamp shows Off a New(er) Sound at Liquid Lounge

The show at Liquid Lounge this night got off to a little earlier start then I expected.

It was a little before nine when I walked in the intimate room, and there were already three musicians on stage.

With just a couple more songs to go, I never caught the name of this instrumental band, who was good, though that’s just a style I’m seldom a fan of.

Following them up was a singer by the name of Charley Crockett. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear the name Crockett, you immediately think of Davy Crockett, and from what Charley said later this night, he is kin to the historical figure, and that is something he’s proud of.

To be the only person on that stage, he did an amazing job of filling it up. His music was incredibly soulful and very bluesy, and it all came from the heart, as he and his guitar produced one song after the other. “That’s a new one I’m working on,” he remarked at the end of one song, before bridging it right in to another.

“Down Trodden Man” was one of the cuts he did from his latest EP, and it was quite fitting of the wanderer role he had already cast himself in. “…I do believe if I had wings I’d still be lonesome,” he crooned on one line; and despite sounding like it would be a sad song, there were never even any slight undertones of it. Instead, he seemed almost cheerful; and at one point, when he cut out on his guitar, the onlookers decided to start clapping along, something Charley welcomed.

He threw out a few more songs, each one dripping with raw emotions, which was the quality everyone watching seemed to enjoy the most about his set.

Not only was he an exceptional singer and songwriter, he was also an extremely skilled guitarist. It was something to watch as he wailed on his axe, making music that spoke to people on a deeper level than many songs do.

Charley Crockett was the most surprising act to me this night, as I was not expecting to discover such a talented solo artist by coming to this show. I’m glad I did, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

He’ll be back in Dallas on October 8th at Adair’s Saloon, and he has plenty of other tour dates as well. They can be found HERE, and you can download a couple of free songs of his HERE.

Perhaps the most interesting band of the night was Skinny Cooks.

How often do you see a rap and spoken word band perform, using a cello and a xylophone. That’s exactly what Nigel Newton (who played the xylophone) and Brianne Sargent did, though. They were also joined by a drummer and bassist, who really fleshed out the sound, though it was those two core members who received everyone’s attention.

They only got 19-minutes, squeezing four songs into that time and rotating on who provided the vocals. As I said, at times it was more like spoken word, others it was rapped, but no matter what was going on, it was riveting.

Simple, yet complex; with the emotions being conveyed in the music.

I’d definitely be interested in seeing them again sometime.

Their music can found on BANDCAMP.

Paco Estrada was next up this night, and it had been far too long since I had seen the singer/songwriter with a full-band. Making this all the more special was the fact that Zuriel was joining him on the violin.

Zuriel was one of the first members Paco picked up when forming what eventually became Paco Estrada & One Love, a band that started about six years ago, and disbanded four years ago now (man, that makes me feel old.) In the aftermath, Zuriel has only played with Paco once, and that was just a few weeks before this show, making this a special treat for longtime fans.

The 50-minute set was an interesting one that covered a variety of albums (and bands), beginning with them going all the way back to Paco’s days in SouthFM. “Blue & Grey” was a song that iconic Dallas band never did much, as the slower pace didn’t fit with their noisy rock shows, though it worked this night, and caught longtime fans a little off guard as Paco started the first line, “Collected all these words to paint this picture for you and try to get you to see…” It was mostly Paco and his acoustic guitar for a while, with Zuriel, the drummer and bassist hanging back, before it really escalated towards the end. Zuriel was even wailing on his violin there at the end, reminding some people of some days long gone by.

From that song from nearly ten years ago, they jumped ahead to some of Pacos’ newer music, doing the sweet love song, which I believe is titled, “The Way That I Love You”. Following that new staple was another new one, and one that quite honestly sounded like a cover. I wasn’t alone in thinking that, either. It sounded phenomenal, though for some reason, it just didn’t feel like one of his, despite the fact that it was. The drummer was crushing it during that song, while the riffs burrowed their way into your head instantly. The lyrics stood out, too, with one line I remember being, “… Burn it to the ground, let the truth be found…”.

“Zuriel just made some shit up,” laughed Paco, who wasn’t really joking, as Zuriel is a master at improve. “This is the song about the girl behind the girl behind the girl,” Paco stated before “She”, a song off 2013’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation EP. “…I could never give you my heart; she left me black and mostly blue. You could give me all the love in the world, but baby, I’ll never give it back to you,” he belted on chorus of that emotional tune about being forever haunted by a past love.

“Harder!” one fan/friend shouted once that one was done, prompting Paco to ask, “Why is that always your go to word?” In retaliation, he said they were going to go softer, joking that, that was a shame for everyone, because they had a really “awesome” totally redone version of a Tool song planned, but instead would just skip over it. He bantered on, saying he and Zuriel were in counseling trying to work stuff out, before sitting up their next tune. “It’s a sad song. But they’ve all been sad,” he remarked, before pulling v2.0 of “Killing Me”, as was performed by One Love. Zuriel looked like this was all second nature to him, and at times, he plucked the strings of his violin, before using the bow later in the song.

“Just like we practiced, just like we practiced,” Paco laughed, who had just earlier stated he sends the tracks to the bassist, so he can listen to the songs he’ll be playing, and I’m fairly certain Zuriel was winging it all night long. The bassist then chimed in, saying he wanted to do “She Talks to Angels”, something Paco was easily persuaded to do. “I don’t know why that happened, but it did,” he stated after finishing the rendition of The Black Crowes song, which was followed by another original from The Anatomy of Letting Go, “Reckless Love”, which again found Zuriel in the zone, since it was from the One Love days.

They had one song left, but first, Paco thanked the openers, saying he happened to find Charley Crockett on the side of the road; and also mentioning the people who had come to this show wearing the band shirts (for the headliner, SpaceCamp), saying “There’s always that guy,” at shows. (For the record, I was one of the guys who had worn the band shirt.) To end things, they did the old standby, “Whiskey Kisses”, which once again saw Zuriel doing a bit of a solo towards the end.

Paco and his band did not disappoint. Then again, they never do.

It was a nice smorgasbord of his music, from his solo records, to his past bands, while also looking ahead to his future. I’m sure I got this point across by now, but it was also fun seeing Zuriel back on stage, going between playing his violin in a more traditional manner, to rocking out on it, to the point it can rival any electric instrument.

I say this every time, and I’ll say it again: Paco is the best singer/songwriter in the D/FW area, and that fact was proven yet again this night.

You can find all of his music on his BANDCAMP; and he should have a new release out by the end of the year.

Wrapping up the night was SpaceCamp; and they had changed things up since the last time I had seen them.

Paco Estrada got no downtime; however, unlike the past SC shows, he wasn’t using his acoustic guitar this time around. Instead, he just stood in front of the mic, using his voice. The other big difference was they now had a keyboardist, who was also responsible for running the live tracks, something they started doing more recently.

Rounding out the band was guitarist Mike Dove and bassist Emsy Robinson, along with frontman Jeremy Rodriguez (AKA Tomahawk Jonez), plus a drummer, whom I hadn’t seen with them before.

They opened with “The Dancer”, and right away, Jeremy  began rapping, “My fears, my pain fall upon your ears so they don’t feel the same…”, putting not only a ton of emotion into it, but also making it sound quite fierce. Paco took over on each chorus; and at the end, he was responsible for tacking on a part of a cover song, singing, “…So I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you,” from “Carless Whisper”.

“We were in Lubbock last night,” Jeremy stated, saying the girls there liked to drink whiskey, and asked if that was true of the girls here. Paco followed that with a rhetorical question. “What college girl doesn’t?” “If This is Goodbye” sounded like a different song live as the sample track got it going; and Jeremy clapped along there at first, causing some fans to join along. He later pointed to Mike when the rest of the instruments cut out; making sure all attention was on the guitarist. When they got to the choruses, Jeremy hung his head, though still danced along; and Paco put an overwhelming amount of emotion into the second one. I’m not sure what caused him to make it even more charged than normal, but it made the already great song even better.

“Do y’all want to hear another song from that same album?” Jeremy asked, referring to the Full Moon EP. “That wasn’t too convincing,” he replied after a lackluster response from the crowd, who did better the second time around. Before they could move on, though, Mike had to change guitars, and then they were off onto “The Lover”. They had redone some parts of it, especially at the end, when both Paco and Jeremy each sang of their different parts in unison with one another, sounding absolutely amazing.

“Faster! Harder!” a patron shouted, leading Paco to inform him they were not Daft Punk. “That’s not a Kanye song?” Jeremy replied, believably feigning some surprise. “Reach for the Sun” came next, and while several of SpaceCamp’s songs are positive and uplifting, that one has to take the cake. As Paco began the final chorus, Jeremy beat his chest, then slowly raised his head until he was gazing towards the ceiling, seeming to look right past it and towards the stars.

“What the fuck is wrong with this stand, Gene? “Why are you trying to sabotage our set?!” Paco joked with the sound man; though the mic stand had been giving them some trouble. They slowed things down and got quite serious with “Surrender to the Night”; then picked the pace back up with “White Horses”, which Jeremy jokingly dedicated to all the women in line for the bathroom. There was no line, though he did say that right at the time one woman happened to walk out, which was hilarious. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Jeremy finished, creating his own echo effect when singing that final word, and it sounded awesome.

“You want to keep that mood going?” he asked afterwards, as the keyboardist started the track to “Dancing with the Devil”. It had barely got going when Jeremy had him kill it, something that perplexed his band mates. “Are you not ready to dance with devil?” Paco quipped, getting a laugh from the crowd. The track sounded fuller when it came back in, just like it should; and that number really exploded when they hit the last chorus, from the singing, to the instruments, everything was in high gear.

“These are all true stories by the way,” Paco informed everyone once they finished. With only two EP’s worth of music in their catalog, they had played nearly everything they had, except for one song. They ended their 50-minute long set with “Before you Die”, which sounded more relaxed this time around than I’ve heard it in the past. It was more behooving of the song, allowing it to become even more emotional than it already is. As usual, Paco added some of “Blue and Yellow” by The Used to the end. “…Rather waste my time with you…” he crooned, before getting to one line he put so much into and held for so long, his face visibly turned red.

Jeremy was excited when talking to me about them using the sample tracks now, especially after how it has gone over at their other recent shows. I was quite intrigued to hear it, but at the same time, I’m one of those people who’s typically not a fan of the use of tracks.

It doesn’t work for every band, often detracting from the sound in my opinion, but for SpaceCamp, it fits. The band has such a unique sound in the first place, describing themselves as trip-rock, and the use of the tracks really did help give all the songs the perfect feel. It really was like you were hearing the recordings live, though they had that raw quality that can only come with a live performance.

I dug it, and it sets the stage for a whole new SpaceCamp.

You can purchase both of the bands EP’s over in iTUNES.

This was a very diverse night of music here at Liquid Lounge, but one that was overflowing with talent, making it a solid night from start to finish