The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.
This Dallas date was billed as a “private event”, with buying tickets in advance being the only way to get in, as no tickets were sold at the door, giving it an exclusive feel, to an extent.
On top of that, Free had organized the lineup, with her cousin Jordi Baizan and fellow Los Angeles based singer Sierra Swan opening for her. (Dallas locals At Night were also scheduled to perform, though their van broke down on the way back from their Houston show).
However, since this was such an early show (starting about 6PM), both openers had finished by the time I was able to get there, though I heard good things about both.
Still, everyone was most excited for Free Dominguez, who had been over at the merch table meeting people and signing stuff for most of the evening (from what I heard), only leaving shortly before her and her bands 8:40 start time in order to get ready for the show.
Much of their 67-minute long set was comprised of material from “Volcano and the Sea”, an album that at one point during the night Free said she had been wanting to make for ten years, sounding elated that it had finally happened.
They kicked things off exactly how the record does, with the beautifully serene yet roaring rock number, “Calling”. She informed the decent size crowd on the title after they finished it, chatting with everyone briefly. “This is going to be our last song.” Free joked before they launched into “Beautiful”, which was just one of many songs this night that guitarist Static was able to shred on.
Drummer Beak Wing counted them in on the mesmerizing “Line in the Sand”, which was the last song they did in order as is heard on the record, and afterwards Free again spoke with the crowd, creating a real rapport with everybody. One thing she did was point out a couple who had drove all the way from St. Louis to see this show, a feat that earned them a round of applause. “…It’s stuff like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing…” remarked Free, being genuinely humbled by that, as well as all the fans in general who had come out to show their support.
“Make me a simple life before I die…” Free crooned as they started “Simple Life”, which somewhat deals with materialism, and wound up being a highlight of their show. At least I thought so. Upon finishing it, she pointed out one of the lines from it, for those who might not have caught it, and that was, “…Things that are forever are forever changing…” She commented on how that’s more or less a mantra for her, and it is probably one of the most true lyrics from a song. Talk then led to the next song, which Free noted was the first song she and Static wrote that wound up leading to “Volcano and the Sea”. “…He was screwing around on Skype…” she said, saying she liked what he was doing on his guitar and asked him to continue.
They then slowed things down with the dark and gorgeous “Corridors”, with Free hitting some utterly beautiful notes with her voice. “That’s always a fun one to do. It’s always different.” she stated, referring to Static as “the feral one”, adding that he always keeps them on their toes while performing it. And while they had toned things down with that song, they were about to scale back even more as Beak Wing and bassist Matt McJunkins left the stage. Free told everyone that for this next segment, she let Static pick the songs they were going to play, ones she hadn’t prepared for and was going to be as surprised as the audience. “…I might even forget the lyrics, like I did last night in Houston.” she said laughing.
This portion of the show saw them doing some stripped down covers of Kidneythieves songs, and the first one was the lead track from “Zerospace”, “Before I’m Dead”. They may have sounded a little different, but it was these songs that everyone seemed to love, and much of the audience was even singing along to them, especially “Jude (Be Somebody)”, which everyone seemed ecstatic to hear, and it did even catch Free off guard. “I don’t know what it is.” she said after Static’s first riff on the guitar, reiterating that after the second, before realizing. And no, she didn’t flub the words to either of those tracks.
As the rhythm section returned, Free took a few moments to discuss another project she and Static are working on, which will be a hip-hop collaboration. She expressed her love of the genre, even saying they recently got word from the label that they will be able to get who they want to collaborate with for what I believe she said would be an EP that would most likely be released in the first half of next year. She sounded very excited about it, and it will no doubt be an interesting record to hear once it’s finished.
As they got back to her solo material, they did some revamped renditions of a couple songs from “(.Unearth.)”, the addition of Matt and Beak Wing really helping flesh out the songs from how they are on the album, helping transform “ Darkest Rivers” into a beast of a song, and one they could all really throw down on. “…Enjoy it…” said Free, urging everyone to get the most out of it, adding, “…’Cause I don’t know when we’ll be back…” Following it was “Questions + Lies”, which helped wind the evening down, but they still had a couple songs left to do.
But before playing any more, Free pointed out that a special guest was in attendance, and that was someone who had backed their Kickstarter campaign, picking the reward option of having her write a song about him. In order to get to know him she said they had talked online many times, and she also had him keep a dream journal for a while, which he then gave to her. She was excited about the song, saying how good it was sounding and that she has had to fight the urge to share even a snippet with him, because she wants him to be surprised when he hears the full song, which she said would be titled “Mr. Goodnight”.
They got back to it with “Hearts Like Parachutes”, which made them appear as if they were still getting warmed up, with the whole band really loosing up, especially Matt, who thrashed about to the beat. Then, before their final song, Free pointed out someone else who was in attendance. It was a young girl who was at her first ever concert, and Free said she was glad the child had been in the bathroom earlier when she said the “f-word”. “…I’m sensitive about that stuff…” she clarified, shortly before encouraging everyone to support their favorite band by buying their music, then bashing a streaming service with, “Fuck Spotify!”. It was “Wolf” that brought their show to a close, though even after a little more than an hour, no one was ready for it to come to an end, letting it be known when it was said that would be the last song. “Do you not want me to enjoy this shot?” Free said jokingly, having gotten one early on in the night, but only drank a portion of so it didn’t “fuck up” her voice as she put it. A respectable ting to do I might add, since so many musicians these days don’t seem to think twice about how it might affect their singing.
As the band retreated back stage, the DJ they had at the event began to spin some more music as everyone started to mingle a bit, thinking it was over. It wasn’t.
Static and Free returned to the state after a minute or so, performing over the track the DJ had going, giving everyone one little bonus track.
It was truly an incredible show, and making it all the better was the intimate feel it had. The Prophet Bar is a smaller venue, and all four members were fairly cozy on stage, having just enough room to do a little moving around. That didn’t keep them from putting on one helluva show, though.
There’s no question that Static is a phenomenal guitarist, stealing the spotlight at times as you watch in wonder at his mastery of the instrument. Beak Wing and Matt are also experts at their craft, while Free Dominguez is amazing in all aspects. Often this night she could be seem conducting her body very fluidly to the music, moving her hands and arms about in perfect time to what her band was playing. On top of that, she has a stellar voice, which was no doubt the main tool that left everyone in awe this night.
Honestly, the first time I ever heard any Kidneythieves songs was the covers they did this night, it has prompted me to listen to their records. And while it may be a departure from the group that made her famous, Free’s solo music is every bit as great, albeit in a different way, but in the end, it’s all riveting music that will pull you in and make the trip an experience.
If you haven’t yet heard her solo stuff, check it out in either iTUNES or Bandcamp.
I’m glad I wound up going to this show, as it was well worth it, and I definitely won’t miss out on the next one… Whenever that may be.
The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.
Area station KXT (91.7 FM) was celebrating their fourth anniversary this night, doing so by having organized a concert at the Granada Theater. And what a concert is was…
Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) was headlining, but they had gotten a lone local band on this bill, and the Fort Worth/Dallas based Oil Boom had the pleasure of opening up this show.
The trio hit the stage at eight on the dot, drummer Dugan Connors counted them into their first song. Singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor then ripped into his guitar, starting one of their latest singles, “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, and if there was anyone in the room who was skeptical about the opener, that song quickly dispelled those thoughts. It’s a rocking good time, having everything desirable in a song, and they were only just getting started, as Dugan wound them into their next song with some steadier beats, while Ryan lightly plucked away at his axe.
“Happy birthday, KXT!” Ryan quickly shouted after finishing that track, as they tore into another unrecorded number, which boasted a sensationally tight rhythm section, bassist Steve Steward and Dugan ruling the tune. Well, except for the nice little solo Ryan got.
They were making sure they had time to play everything they could in their 31-minute set, but occasionally at time to insert some dialogue, such as at this point, when Steve held up his hand, making the “devil horns” gesture. “So, Johnny Marr is cool. Right?” Getting a roaring reaction of agreeance from those who had shown up early, then he added, “I’m not sure if the devil sign is right.” He didn’t have much time to reflect on it, though, as they bolted into another fun number, following it with another track.
“…I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll, I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll…” Ryan repeatedly sang throughout their next number, after he had made a quick guitar change, with the song being probably one of the most appropriate ones of the night. “You may have heard this next one on KXT.” Ryan informed any potential listeners of the station. “It’s “Don’t Worry, be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin he cracked. “I was going to say it was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.” Steve chimed in. It wound up being neither, and instead was what is arguably the best track off the 2012 “Gold Yeller” EP, “The Great American Shakedown”. It’s filled with some soulful rock guitar chords, and the chorus will instantly have you singing along to it.
Sadly, that brought them to their final song of the night, which wound up being their longest, too, and worked as a fitting song to end with. “…I’m slowing down…” sang Ryan at points of this bluesy and slightly soulful number, as he Dugan and Steve, eventually trailed off on their playing, giving the impression that they were done. They weren’t quite done yet, though, coming back in strong, and finishing it out.
While their time on stage was short, they packed it full of energy, and their fun songs that sound a little like classic rock, while also incorporating some blues and soul into it all.
It may not be cutting edge, but it is pretty original music, and making it all the better is how polished their musicianship and stage show is, all of which resulted in me loving them even more this time around than I did the first time I saw them.
From Ryans’ distinct voice, to the humor he and Steven throw in from time to time, and even the faster paced, infectious songs they have, which are in part thanks to the quick beats Dugan busts out, there’s surely something about Oil Boom that will appeal to you. And out of all the local bands that could have opened this show up, these guys really deserved the spot, and I can’t imagine anyone having gotten the night off to a better start.
They have another Dallas show set for November 30th at The Prophet Bar, and check out their records in iTUNES.
Following them was singer/songwriter Meredith Sheldon, who was accompanied by another electric guitarist on stage.
“…I’m very happy to be back here for only the second time in my life.” she said after taking the stage, with “here” being the great state of Texas. She also noted she was from Massachusetts, and when she finished speaking of course one guy felt the need to comment, shouting at her, “Your hot!!”, a remark she kind of laughed at before dismissing it.
That was about all the talking she did, as they launched into a 35-minute set of continuous music, as they went from one song right into the next. They were a big departure from the acts they were sandwiched in between, being more minimal in some ways, yet they still retained a very rock element in their performance, and each could really shred on their guitars when they needed to.
They were still somewhat quieter, though, and her singing was fairly soft at times, giving what I thought was a very interesting dynamic to her songs.
In the end, I was a bit indifferent to it all. Some of the songs I really liked, others I just didn’t feel. For two people, though, they manage to put on a fairly entertaining live show.
With them off stage, the crowd couldn’t wait to see Johnny Marr, anxiously waiting for the 9:50 start time to roll around…
(I reviewed Johnny Marr’s set for On Tour Monthly. It can be found HERE.)
It had been over a year and a half since I last saw the Austin based folk outfit Wild Child in Dallas (having caught them at SXSW earlier this year), and this night was going to be a big one for the band.
Two days prior to this show at the Prophet Bar, the band released their highly anticipated sophomore record, “The Runaround”, making this the Dallas CD release show for the new album, and their Dallas fans were ready to partake in the festivities.
The lone opening act on this show was Prophets and Outlaws, who played a mix of new and old songs during their 39-minutes on stage, along with some covers.
It was one of those newer songs that they opened with, before doing a song that singer and guitarist Matt Boggs said was their “ode to Elvis”. It was the shorter “Honey Child”, which certainly could have gotten a lot of hips shaking about, though there were only a handful of people up front actually dancing to the soulful, bluesy song. Next came one of their covers, and it was a well known classic, made famous by The Band.
They did a brilliant rendition of “The Weight”, utilizing every vocalist in the band, which was most of them. Drummer James Guckenheimer, bassist Matt Murrow, guitarist Stevie G and keyboard player Jamie Ringholm all sang a different verse of the song, coming together and harmonizing on the chorus, along with Matt, even doing it in rounds to add a distinctive flare to it.
“Do y’all want to hear a brand new song?” Matt asked the decently sized crowd, though most of them seemed indifferent to it. All the same, they rolled things right along into a new one, and after another track, they broke out another cover. I believe it was a version of Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, with a little more of a rock spin on it, and Matt has a certain quality to his voice that allowed them to pull it off.
“This is our best one, in my opinion.” Matt stated before they broke into the lead track from their self-titled debut EP, “Soul Shop”, a rather relaxing song. “We’re gonna need some howls on this next one.” said Matt, noting it was a newer song they were thinking about releasing around Halloween. A few of the onlookers answered his request, doing a wolf howl once or twice during the song, and once it was finished they had just enough time left for one more tune.
I’ll say that for what they do, Prophets and Outlaws pull of the style exceedingly well. However, after seeing this full band show and an acoustic one a few months back, I have to say that their music just isn’t what I care for.
It just doesn’t grab me and strike a chord in me or anything. That’s all relative, though, and if you like a mix of soul and blues, that have slightly more of a country sound, then this is definitely the band for you.
They have two EP’s you can check out and purchase in iTUNES. As for shows, they tend to keep fairly busy, and on October 31st they’ll be at the City Tavern in Dallas, with a show on November 1st at Grotto Live in McKinney. For more tour dates, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE.
They hastily cleared their gear off, while Wild Child began the process of setting up, and by the time they were ready to go, singer and baritone ukulele player Alexander Beggins asked for everyone to get a little closer. Apparently, the band has made a lot of area fans since I first saw them, as the majority of the people who were scattered around the bar and elsewhere made their way right up front.
They began with a joke, though it didn’t start out that way as singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson first mentioned how early they had to be up this morning in order to perform on one of the local morning shows on one of the TV stations. She pointed out getting up that early made her want to punch people, but she did alright, only punching one news woman. “…But she only made it through the first half inch of her makeup…” Alexander chimed in, the crowd, along with his band mates erupting in laughter.
That was a great way to break the ice, and with there being no way to top that, they promptly started the show with the title track and lead song from this new album, “The Runaround”, a very fun song that got everyone moving around at least a little. “How are you doing this fine Thursday eve?” Alexander asked the fans, which spurred a conversation between band mates as Kelsey stated she always hopes it really is Thursday when he asks that question.
After bantering (mainly) amongst themselves for a moment, they got back to the music, hitting their more tender side with the second track on the record, “Victim to Charm”. The violin and cello, which was played by Sadie Wolfe, worked together harmoniously at the start of that one, “Dear, don’t be alarmed, as I trace the freckles on your porcelain arm…” Alexander sang softly into the mic. It’s a beautiful line for an equally beautiful song, that also featured some nice harmonies from the two vocalists.
Those new ones were well received, though the fans almost turned into rabid animals when Kelsey said they were going to do some old ones, clearly eager to hear the ones they knew and loved. That collective mood of excitement shot through the roof as Alexander played the opening notes of “The Escape”, the audience singing right along with Kelsey and Alexander, whose voices layered over each other’s nicely. “Lost my breath, I’m feeling weak, my bones escape my skin…” everybody sang, the fans obviously ecstatic that this favorite of theirs was still in the setlist. They took things down a few notches with “Silly Things”, and while the rhythm section was lighter, it was still pretty powerful, Chris D’Annunzio lightly plucking the strings of his bass, which caused the floor to vibrate at times. The crowd again proved their love for Wild Child and their music, loudly singing along to the final line, “…Come get your coffee pot, ‘cause it hasn’t been used since I last used you.”
The band appeared a bit surprised by all the love they were getting, and now pointed out that this was the first crowd they had played to since “The Runaround” came out just two days prior to this. And now, having done the first two tracks from both their new and old albums, it was time to get back to some newer stuff with the first single from “The Runaround”.
Kelsey informed anyone who didn’t know that they had just released a music video for the song “Crazy Bird”, saying it was “weird”, which could be a big understatement. However, while the video is weird, the song itself is not, and both will leave a lasting impression on you. It was fun and upbeat, being an irresistible song that will immediately put you in a happy mood.
Speaking of happy mood, Kelsey said they had picked up a new motto from their friends in Prophets and Outlaws backstage. “You can only have as much fun as you want to have.” she said, Alexander adding those were “words of wisdom”. It is true, and they and the crowd were prepared to have as much fun as possible this night, and not much could be more fun than a “butt grabbing song”, which was exactly what Kelsey said t he next one was. Not much of that was going on as they busted out another slow one, “This Place”, though, Evan Magers adding some soft, subtle notes from his keyboard at parts, while Carey McGraw kept a slow and steady beat going on the drums.
That slow tune transitioned well into “Stitches”, which at first didn’t come across as what Kelsey said was their “new favorite party song”, but once it got going, it clearly was a fitting party tune. As soon as it concluded they seamlessly launched into another old one, “Bridges Burning”, the audience echoing along with Kelsey, “…Wait for me, I want you to wait for me…” “Y’all are tripping me out!” she exclaimed after finishing the song, still seeming a bit baffled by all the love. The audience was then presented with a choice of either getting a new fast one or an old fast one, which was “Cocaine Hurricane”. It was unanimous, and the choice was that old fan favorite, which is still a highlight of their shows.
Their 53-minute long set was nearing its end, and they still had a couple more new ones to do, one of which was the instant classic, “Living Tree”. “You guys are my favorite people in the whole wide world.” remarked Kelsey after they finished the song, still overwhelmed by it all, and they began to wind things down with the final track on the new album, “Left Behind”.
There was only one fitting way to close to the show, though, and that was with the final number from 2011’s “Pillow Talk”, the haunting, “Tale of You & Me”. “Sleep good and hold tight. Just know that’ll make it right.” the whole band shouted repeatedly at the end, creating the greatest sing along moment of the night, the entire crowd joining them, making for the best possible end to what was surely Wild Child’s best Dallas show yet.
This was quite the night, and Wild Child is quite the band. The duel vocalists and the way they constantly change things up, from both Kelsey and Alexander singing lead, to incorporating some dynamic harmonies and even singing in time with one another are what make them standout so much. And while those two do tend to be the main focus of the show, the rest of the group is of course just as vital a part, and contribute a lot to the energy they have.
On that note, it was their older songs that they did that were the most cohesive and flawless. That’s nothing against their new material, but you could tell those oldies had been performed hundreds of times over and they’d developed such chemistry for them, while some of the newer ones they still haven’t worked out all the movements.
In the end, though, it’s easy to see why the band just performed at Austin City Limits (doing a gig at the festival a couple days after this Dallas date), and why they’re creating such buzz. And the way folk music is becoming such a big thing currently in mainstream music, and given the unique and fresh spin Wild Child puts on their tunes, it’s believable that they have a shot at making it.
Wild Child will be on the road until the end of the year, doing shows from the East Coast to the West Coast and several states in between, and for all those dates go HERE. And do check out both of their albums in iTUNES, and if you dig ‘em, definitely buy them.
The Seattle based band Reignwolf has been working hard to get onto more of a national stage, and seeing as they have played festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, they’re well on their way.
Speaking of Austin City Limits, it, like SXSW and other Austin based festivals, usually work out well for us folks in North Texas, who get some of the spillover with some of the touring acts stopping by for shows. And this night, thanks in part to Parade of Flesh, Reignwolf was stopping by Club Dada, to make their Dallas debut before week two of ACL.
The 1969’s were the first of two local acts on the bill, and after more than two years since the only other time I had seen the group, I was looking forward to catching them again.
I was outside for the first couple songs of their 33-minute long set, but made it in as they got going on song number three.
“…There’s gonna be some good music tonight. Including us, I hope.” Singer and guitarist Scott Lindsey said after finishing that song, addressing the dozen or so people who were scattered about the room. They eagerly applauded the trio, definitely loving what they were doing so far, and it only got better as Scott led them into “And I Will”. Like their other stuff, it was great blend of of soulful blues and loud rock, bassist Troy Thibodeaux occasionally adding some backing vocals into the mix.
That was one of the songs they did from their “I Am the Road” album, which Scott mentioned afterwards, saying he had forgot to bring them to sell. “…Just use Spotify or iTUNES…” he said, noting their music was available on those sites, too. He went on to say this show had a few firsts for them, most notably how they were standing, something I knew they didn’t do the only time I saw them. He mentioned their stools they usually have, which make them look like more of a relaxed bar band, as well as the light that Chris Mancini had inside his kick drum, which was making its debut at this show.
They cranked out another one, before doing a song about “dear ol’ Texas” as Scott put it. “It’s a good ol’ foot stomper.” he added before they busted into the lead track from their full-length, “Where the Stars Are Alone”. It was a definite foot stomper, and they kept things going with a song I believe was titled “Blues Box”, before Scott let everyone in on a secret before their final song.
“…Every song we just played was in the key of G…” he stated, as he and Troy tuned to a different key for their final track.
The 1969’s were an excellent way to get this party going, their bluesy rock seeming to be just what the crowd wanted. Their stuff is pretty original sounding and very well crafted. Also, considering this was the first show they had done without their stools and looking like a juke joint band, you wouldn’t have known it.
They looked like they had done it hundreds of times over, packing a good deal of energy into their set, particularly Scott, who moved all over the stage, he, Troy and Chris displaying a great deal of chemistry with one another.
After seeing them this night, I found myself wondering why it took me two and a half years to see The 1969’s again. They easily belong in the cream of the crop of acts that this town has to offer, and their probably one of the more underrated ones as well.
Give this party blues band a listen. You can download two EP’s on BANDCAMP for free, and if you like that, check out “I Am the Road” in iTUNES.
They were rock, sure. But things were about to get a lot heavier and louder, thanks to Descender.
The band was doing their first gig in a little over two months, when they released their latest record, and I was excited to get yet another live fix of my favorite local band.
The main focus of their 35-minute long set was on their newest EP, though they did do one song apiece from their first two efforts, and opened with a cut from “Dark Water”, the series of drum beats Duncan Black knocked out giving it away as “Hats Off To Your Reflection”. That pulse pounding number isn’t often used to open shows, though it packs a serious punch, offering anyone unfamiliar with Descender a good taste of what lay ahead.
Soon, singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess started them in on “I Will Help You Find The Darkness”, the rest of the band gradually joining in on it. By the time that rip-roaring song had come to an end, Duncan had broken one of his drum sticks, hurling the now useless one out at the onlookers, somehow managing to not hit anyone. They marched on with the title track of the new EP, “Slow And Gold”, Zack Busby creating the songs eerie intro with some thick, pulsating notes. It was easy to miss that Jeff was using a slide on that song (or at least for part of it), and as it neared the end, he swiftly slid it off his finger and into his other hand, tapping a sting with it to create a captivating sound.
“This song’s about summer, dying and getting laid.” declared Casey, setting up “Spinning On The Surface”, which was followed by the longest song the record has to offer, “The Language”. “…We’re on the wall, we’re on your skin, we’re on the floor. Oblivion…” Casey sang before ripping into his guitar solo, which is damn near breathtaking, and when the rest of the band joined back in, Zack did so by viciously slapping at his bass, giving it a thundering effect. Perhaps, he was a little too fierce with it, or maybe it was just time for one of the strings to meet its end, snapping soon after. Once they finished the song, he pulled it off, but only after pointing it out to Casey who couldn’t help but laugh.
He even called it a “good omen”, basically saying that some bad luck can have a silver lining. “…It’s like if your car breaks down, but you’re like, “It’s okay, ‘cause I’m gonna get laid.” was an example he used, before asking what string it was. “Oh, it’s okay. You don’t really need that…” he joked before looking back at Duncan and continuing, “It’s like your hi-hat. Do you really need that?”
They made do with the now broken bass, doing a song that Zack wrote the music for, the fast paced and short “Silver Lightning”. It’s a beast of a song, and set them up for their final number. Before that, though, Casey stated how glad they were to be on this bill, and what a cool band name Reignwolf was. “…That one if the top three band names ever.” he said, spit balling that perhaps “Red Reignwolf” would perhaps be the only way to improve upon it.
To close out their show, they did none other than the title track from their 2010 EP, a song Casey routinely mentions is about the heart, “Army Of Elephants”.
I have to say, it was great seeing these guys back on stage again, playing the awesome stuff they’ve written, and even the broken bass string didn’t have any real negative effect on things. And you wouldn’t have guesses it had been so long since they had last done a show, as they’ve built some tight chemistry over the years, noticeable from the moment they get on stage.
I still say they’re one of the best bands currently in the North Texas music scene, and though it might be a while before they do another show, keep tabs on their FACEBOOK so you’ll know when they do. Also, check out their records in iTUNES (& HERE), and if you like vinyl, you can find their spilt record with Here Holy Spain on the Idol Records STORE.
The size of the crowd had grown quite large by the time Reignwolf was set to take the stage. Just guessing (and I am horrible at doing rough estimates of people), but I’d say there were around fifty people in attendance, give or take a few. An impressive number for a Monday night, plus the fact that the band had no real fan base in the area, sans some family and friends of two of the members who had called the Dallas area home for awhile.
Reignwolf may be a full band, but at its core, it’s singer and guitarist Jordan Cook, and at 10:49, just a little past their scheduled start time, he and he alone walked onto the stage.
As soon he picked his guitar up the aura changed, and he wasted no time in showing the audience what he was capable of, shredding on his guitar, strumming it so fast his hand literally was a blur. That alone was enough to leave everyone awestruck, but Jordan was just warming up, and soon began violently hitting the strings on the body of his guitar with such force it looked like they all should have snapped. He looked like he may have even been convulsing at times as he shook himself around the stage, clearly possessed by the rock gods, who were certainly on his side this night.
He was also a percussionist for this and many other songs, using a kick drum that bore the Reignwolf name and logo (a wolfs head), which he started to play as he launched into the fiery, blues guitar rock song, “Electric Love”. The only people who could have been prepared for what transpired were the few who had seen the band before, and with that one song, my mind was nearly blown, and in the end, it was just something to whet everyone’s apatite.
As Jordan finished it, guitarist “Stitch” and drummer Joseph Braley made their way on stage, with the first full band song of the night being “Come On, Come On”, a glorious mix of blues and rock, with Jordan cranking out some soulful notes at times. The stage show only grew more intense, too, and at one point during that track Jordan jumped atop his kick drum, shredding while standing on it.
“Let’s go!” shouted Jordan as they rolled that song directly into the next, which I believe was “Dead of Night”. It was pure, uncut Rock ‘n’ Roll in its finest form, and it enveloped and consumed everyone, fans and members of the band alike. Perhaps the best part of the song came at the end, when Jordan removed the microphone from the stand, and, with it hand, plucked away at his guitar, before raising it up to sing into, then played a few more notes, repeating that process a few times over. It was just a very cool moment.
Upon finishing that one, Jordan bantered with the crowd for a moment, thanking everyone for, “coming out on a school night.”, though I think work was more of a priority for the people than school. He then spoke about the next song. “This one’s for the girls. The boys can listen, too.” “Are you satisfied? There’s nowhere to go…” he sang, the opening line of the only song the band has released, “Are You Satisfied?”. In hearing it, it was clear why it’s a single, easily being one of if not the best song they did this night.
Jordan struck up another conversation with everybody after that, though this one went horribly awry. “Only in Aus-…” he said, before catching himself, though it was already too late. Having been in Austin for ACL, it’s an understandable mistake, but no one was going to let it slide, playfully booing him. “…I’m really sorry. I’ll make sure I never to that again.” he said, sounding somewhat meek, a far cry from the voice that spewed out of him while singing. Jordan was able to take it all, though, even joking himself. “I’m very lucky no one had a gun on them…” he cracked.
Once things were smoothed over they cranked out another song, before Jordan traded his guitar in for a mandolin that resembled a guitar, though it appeared even smaller than most mandolins. Perhaps that was just me, but either way, while it looked comical, that impression was a fleeting one. He set the song up by saying that it was a Mothers Anger song (the band that Stitch and Joseph were in before Reignwolf). “…But we did this to it.” Jordan said with a grin, before starting the aptly titled “Mandolin Song”. It sounded quite good, and was definitely set apart by that mandolin, which added an interesting vibe to the song that none of their other music had.
They marched on, but first Jordan pointed out his other guitar, which sit in a stand to the right of him. “The reason that’s sitting all the way over there is because your hometown hero Joseph has broken that guitar many times…” he laughed, though Joseph acted like there was a bit of truth to what he said. They then busted out “Neighbors”, a very powerful number, during which the strap on Jordans’ guitar came loose. He acted as though it was a non-issue, though, propping his leg up on the kick drum before resting the guitar on his leg, all the while tearing it up.
Next came a fan request, the innuendo laced “Bicycle”, which saw Jordan sit down on the kick drum, playing both it and his guitar, killing it on both instruments. It was another one of those moments that left your mouth agape by the time the song was over, and as he stood up for their next number, he left the mic stand at the same level he had lowered it to. That said, he sang most of the next song by standing on the kick drum and leaning down towards the microphone, making it look effortless. Eventually he moved it back by his amp and raised it back up, though as they got to the instrumental outro, he roughly kicked the mic stand over, shredding on his axe, and even laying it on the floor as he swiftly picked at it.
That was how their 51-minute long set ended, and what an explosive end it was. Everyone’s heads were no doubt still spinning from the massive assault of rock they had just witnessed, yet they knew they didn’t want it to be over quite yet, and no sooner had the trio ventured back stage the chants for an encore began.
A few minutes passed, and it seemed as if it would go answered, and that was when Jordan made his way back out.
“We were just talking about this back there, and we were not expecting Dallas to be like this.” he remarked, clearly pleasantly surprised at how well they were being received. “…You can go to all the festivals you want, but right here right now feels pretty damn good.” he said, a sentiment the audience readily agreed with.
Jordan than rearranged the full drum kit and took a seat behind it, his guitar still in hand. I never would have guessed that “Palms To The Sky” was a song he did solo, because it has such a rich, full sound, yet it was, and was one of the highlights from this night.
As it trailed off, Joseph and Stitch climbed back on stage, having been watching the show with everyone else, doing one last song for this 12-minute long encore, which had long instrumental outro, and there was one point where both Jordan and Stitch were standing on the kick drums.
First off, I have to say thanks to a friend (Brendan Williams) for making me aware of Reignwolf, and hyping them to me for the last several months. The point of saying that is because after you hear any type of continuous hype about a band, it can sometime lead to disappointing results when you finally see them live. That’s happened to me on numerous occasions over the years, but this night was not one of them.
Reignwolf delivered one of the best performances I think any band could ever do, and they seemed so natural in doing it. That’s to say it was all so organic, not like they were trying to be over the top or anything, but rather just doing what came naturally to them and letting it flow.
And the thing was, while all eyes gravitated to Jordan Cook, Stitch and Joseph were every bit the performer he was, Stitch thrashing around, while Joseph had a very dynamic style to his drumming.
In the end, it was Jordan who was the main show, though, his voice, which had an impressive range and quality to it, along with the songs he’s written having an older Rock ‘n’ Roll essence to them, somewhat in the vein of say, 70’s era rock.
They were nothing short of phenomenal, and even that may be an understatement.
The crowd left having witnessed history, Reignwolf’s first ever Dallas show, and I have to wonder if the next time they play this city it won’t be in even a bigger venue than what Club Dada is. With all these festivals the band has been playing, they’re clearly making a name for themselves, and even one guy I briefly talked with at this show had just seen them down at Austin City Limits, and had to see them again this night.
I’d be shocked if they’re not the next big thing within a few years or so, having one of those “overnight success” stories where no one has heard of them to all of a sudden everyone is dying to see them life. But in the meantime, it’s all about laying a strong foundation, a slow process, but one they are having no trouble doing.
Check out their single, “Are You Satisfied?” in iTUNES, and for all their tour dates, visit their OFFICIAL WEBSITE. They have dates coming up in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, as well as a date at Voodoo fest in New Orleans on November 2nd.
You have to respect the touring bands, and no, I don’t mean the big time touring acts that are guaranteed to make money. I mean the bands who dream of being a full-time touring act, making a living doing what they love, and actively pursue it.
That said, what is perhaps my favorite Canadian based band, Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk were back on tour, their Here We Go Again tour, and this night they were returning to what has become their Dallas home, the Prophet Bar.
Opening up this show was singer/songwriter Ashley Brooks, who played an electric guitar and was accompanied by band mate and fellow guitarist Andrew Lyon.
Their 22-minute long set got off to a somber start, as Ashley said Andrew wanted to say something. He wasn’t near a mic, so she ended up speaking for him, saying he wanted to dedicate the show to a friend who had recently died. “…This show’s also for my sister…” she said, adding she had passed away just a few weeks prior from suicide. She then set up her first song, “Simple Living”, saying it was about a guy she was with for three years. “…He was on drugs and just… a hot mess…” she said, noting she thought she could “fix” him.
That storyteller vibe continued for their next song, as well as most of their show, as Ashley said the next one was, “…Hard to sing.” She went on to tell a story of how she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at fifteen, and went she went in for surgery, there was nothing there. It was called “Miracles”, and it was a great tune, clearly being a testament to her faith. She gave her voice a rest afterwards, while Andrew played an instrumental piece. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of instrumental music, but this song had a good sound, and I really enjoyed it.
They then resumed their originals, first with “Maybe” and then another. “That’s my favorite song we’ve done…” Ashley remarked after the other song, which also happened to be my favorite tune of theirs this night, and both her voice and the music bed for it just had a great sound. Since starting, Ashley had promised a mix of originals and covers, and now they delivered their first and only cover of this night. “Does anyone know who Alison Krauss is?” she asked the handful of people who were there so early on, most of whom were either staff or other band members. The duo did a pretty rendition of “When You Say Nothing at All”, before ending with a track I believe was titled “Breathe”, which was a little more minimalist compared to her other songs, as Andrew lightly plucked the strings of his guitar, while Ashley just sang.
Before exiting the stage, though, she addressed the crowd, saying they had planned to do some more covers, “…But we’ll save those for next time…” she said. She went on mention she’s finishing up recording some tracks that will be released in the near future, saying all she wanted to do was help other people through music, just in the way it had helped her.
Though it was a short show, it was good one. Ashley had good voice, sounding delicate at times, though she was also capable of hitting some big notes. The songs were well written, and I enjoyed the connection she made with the onlookers by talking about her songs and getting more personal.
You can listen to some demos she has recorded over on her REVERBNATION PAGE, and those studio recordings she mentioned should be available soon. In fact, she said one would be coming out this month.
The first full band of the night was the main one I was there to see, and that was Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk.
This was the band’s second Dallas show this year, having hit The Prophet Bar back in May, and they had changed things around since then.
They opened with a very cool intro, led by Jay and Jessica Christman, the latter plucking some of the strings on her bass before he joined in with some light drum beats. Josh Akin soon came in on the guitar, though it was Zoltan Szoges who really set the piece off, using the numerous keyboards and synthesizer around him. All together, it sounded slightly heavenly, and it ceased suddenly once Lauren Mann grabbed a ukulele and approached the microphone.
I said they had changed things around, and much to my Lauren began whistling, signifying the start of the lead single from their “Over Land and Sea” album, “I Lost Myself”, a song that has previously been reserved as the show closer.
It worked quite well as an opener, Laurens’ rich, vibrant voice piercing the near silence as she eased everyone into the show, before the rest of the band soon joined in. A little over a minute in was when things sprang to life, though, as Zoltan began banging on a floor tom with one hand, while using the other on his array of keyboards. As it drew to a close, Lauren even acted as a percussionist, grabbing the drumsticks and pounding on the extra tom, before taking a seat at her piano at center stage.
“This is a traveler’s song.” she remarked as they launched into what is perhaps one of their most fun songs, “A Traveler’s Anthem”. It’s so upbeat it’s simply irresistible, and they followed it with another amazing sounding song, which I’m guessing was a cover. Zoltan broke out his keytar for some of that latter one, but the best part came at the end, when they broke into an unexpected percussion outro. Josh clapped along to Jay’s beats, while Jessica beat on the massive bass drum that sit beside the drum kit and Lauren shook a tambourine, while Zoltan again put the tom to use.
The briefly paused after that, taking a few moments to chat with the handful of people, and eventually Zoltan got to a joke. “I think I say this every time we play here…” he started out, saying he just ruined the joke, but laughed that since almost none of the people were familiar with them it would still be funny. “…Alberta is Canada’s Texas.” he said of their home province, “Or Texas is the U.S.’s Alberta.” he cracked, saying Alberta also had oil and cattle, as well as other things Texas as known for. He went on to make the very nice compliment of, “That’s why we always feel at home here in Texas.”
With that connection made, they got back to the music, and now did one of their new songs from their forthcoming third record. It was titled “You Don’t Look the Same”, and in comparison to the rest of their material, it sounded totally different. It just had a whole new vibe, though it still meshed with the rest of their cheerful tracks, and was all it took to get me really intrigued about what they’ll soon be working on. No sooner had they finished it then Lauren segued them into an older song from “Stories From Home”, “Stow Me Away”.
They’ve tweaked it from the album version, incorporating all of the band, though it’s still largely driven by Lauren and her piano, allowing for a nice lull in the show. Said lull was continued in the form of “Of Life And Of Death”, which ended with some very subtle sounds, though it was more than enough to propel to the song to another level. As it concluded, Zoltan picked up a bow, like you would play a cello with for example, and proceeded to pull it across the xylophone. He was very precise about it all, doing it in perfect synch to the music and Lauren’s singing, accenting it extraordinarily well.
They weren’t going to slow down from that, either, the sample track for “Love, I Lost” bleeding into the end of the previous song as the sounds finished resonating. With that, they were back on the upswing, and upon finishing it, Zoltan offered up some more banter.
He mentioned that it had been a weird tour so far, doing a show one day then having a day off, and that this was only the third show they had done in the U.S. on this tour. Talk also turned to impending hurricane that was headed for the other states on the Gulf Coast, and how they were going to be headed right for it. “…We’ll be going through our first hurricane…” Lauren said laughing, like it was going to be more of an adventure than anything. They also spoke of their new record, which they’ll be recording at the start of the new year, and how they’ll be launching a campaign to raise money for it. “We asked the bank for money to make it, and they said no. We asked our personal accounts for the money, and they said no. So then we asked our parents, and they said no.” Zoltan informed everyone, then clarified, “I’m kidding, we didn’t ask our parents. We’re in our late twenties and that would be awkward.”
When they got back to the show, they did “When I Feel Lost”, a more fleshed out rendition than what you hear on “Stories From Home”, giving the bass, drums and guitar more of a role, while Zoltan even dabbled on his keytar at times. The group then got a cool intro going for their next number, Josh standing by his guitar amp to create a bit of feedback, with things soon giving way to the ukulele intro of the ethereal, “Fragile”. Jessica and Zoltan briefly swapped spots at one point, as she struck the xylophone, and since Lauren had left her piano, he even put his keytar aside to play it at one point.
“We have one more…” said Lauren as they rolled it right into their final song, and she urged everyone to get a little closer to the stage. “We might have a little surprise for you.” she said with a smile on her face. Since the start I had been curious as to what they were going to end with, “How It Goes” seemed like it would be an excellent note to end on.
Jessica took over keyboard duty while Zoltan opened a suitcase and started throwing instruments out to everyone, from little shakers to tambourines and such. He then started clearing things out of the way, giving him room to eventually pick up that giant bass drum and roll it out into the crowd. They might not have had much of an audience, but those who were there were loving this, with at least half a dozen people picking up a drum stick or two and banging on the drum. And as the song and their 42-minute long set came to an end, Zoltan climbed on top of the floor tom, shaking a tambourine to the beat, before leaping backwards off it.
There are so many layers to the show Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk do, for starters, the performance itself. Zoltan mentioned they would be performing their five hundredth show on this tour, and while the members have changed since they first started, they’ve definitely broken in this new lineup. The five of them have incredible chemistry together and are nothing short of being a well-oiled machine.
They make the show much more intense than you would expect just from listening to their music, conducting themselves so fluidly with the music, and each member of the quartet packs in a ton of energy into their performance.
Aside from that, their just great musicians in general, writing some nice, catchy and fun indie/pop sounding music with a folk spin on it, and it’s music that is progressively getting better. “Over Land and Sea” is an exceptional record, but that one new song they did this night was even a bit above that, which is saying a lot.
In the end, though, it’s how fun and joyful they make their shows that will really stick with you. You’ll likely have smile on your face the whole time LM&TFOF are on stage, and the lightened mood their show puts you in is one that will stick with you for awhile.
They’ll be on the road in both the States and Canada through early December, so check out their TOUR PAGE for all the show dates. After that they’ll be in the studio working on their next record, with plans to get back out on the road next summer. So, stay tuned, help them fund their next record, and go see them if they come to a town near you, you’ll be glad you did. Also, check out their first two records in iTUNES. (Also, depending on when you see this, you can snag a FREE download of “Over Land & Sea” HERE.)
The mood of the night shifted drastically with the next band, Desert Noises, who were a serious rock band hailing from Provo, Utah.
The four piece delivered 38-minutes worth of rock on the crowd, the majority of which I believe came from a new album they mentioned they had just finished recording.
Is what made them stand out at the start was the harmonies their singer and rhythm guitarist and bass player created. He [the bassist] appeared to have a knockout voice as well, and they intertwined to make something outstanding.
After the first couple of songs, they did one from 2011’s “Mountain Sea” album, “Oak Tree”, another track that really utilized the harmonies, while also boasting some, at times, haunting guitar notes. They continued on with another new one, their singer announcing they had recently wrapped up the recording process, and that the next song would be on it. “What’s it called?” one person asked, speaking of the new album. “We don’t know yet.” the singer smiled and said.
They carried on with several more songs, eventually having a discussion amongst themselves to make sure that this was their first ever show in Dallas. By then they were almost done, and they closed out their show with a very interesting song that only featured the lead guitar and some beats from the drummer, while the other two musicians just sang. It was very different from their other stuff, but sounded oh so good.
Their rock sounds, which were some of the more original that I’ve heard, were also laced with some Americana undertones, and even Southern Rock to a smaller degree.
That, coupled with the killer voice their singer had and the nice mixture he and the bass player created, as well as the well written songs, they ensured they’d be a band you wouldn’t soon forget. Well, that and dynamic stage show they put on, really throwing down and rocking out.
Do yourself a favor and check these guys out. They have a few records in iTUNES, and I’m guessing this new record, whenever it drops, will be the best thing they’ve done yet. They also have a few shows left on their tour, which you can find HERE.
After those two touring bands, it was time for one last Dallas act to close out the night, and that was singer/songwriter, Steve Atkins.
They were a bit different, too, at least in comparison to the other acts. Steve was accompanied by two other musicians, one playing a ukulele and the other an electric guitar, without an amp, while he used an acoustic. The electric guitarist also had a computer in front of him, which had all the sample tracks for the other instruments they were lacking.
He of course mined a different genre than the other acts, his music being more of an acoustic pop style, which become readily clear just with their first song. After “Animal”, one of the tracks off his “Locals” record, he and the ukulele player donned some hats. “Now we’re settled in.” Steve remarked as they dished out another song.
“The Tide” continued their string of love based songs, as Steve repeatedly sang, “I would never let you down.” on the chorus. They had also worked a cover into their show, doing a rendition of Rihannas’ “We Found Love”, albeit a very different version from hers. It lacked all the electronics, a little more bare bones, which made the lyrics and Steve’s singing more of the main focal point, and they pulled it off nicely
They continued rushing through their 33-minute set, seeming to want to get it over as soon as they could. Probably because, as Steve mentioned, he knew just about everyone had to work the next day. They got back to tackling the EP with “New Beginnings”, then “Coming Around” before ending with “Stick & Stone”.
Personally, Steves’ stuff wasn’t quite up my alley, It was just too mushy and lovey dovey for my tastes, but at the same time, I can respect it for what it is. That’s simply his style of songwriting and singing, and it suits him well, being something he, and his band mates, pulled off with ease.
If that’s something that would appeal to you, give his stuff a listen. You can find “Locals” in iTUNES, and if you keep an eye on his FACEBOOK PAGE, he’ll no doubt announce another show sometime soon.
This fun got off to an early start and ended relatively early, too, which was a nice change of pace from one to two in the morning. Kudos to the Prophet Bar for continuing to give touring bands a chance, and if you weren’t here (which you probably weren’t), you missed out on one spectacular show
If you’ve been in Deep Ellum at all over the past years (and probably further back than that), you’ve no doubt seen Anthony Streeter, who often worked security at the Curtain Club. Hell, out of the nearly six and a half years I’ve been going there I remember seeing him at almost every show I caught there.
Recently, he was diagnosed with MS, and to help him out with the bills he incurred, a couple of benefit shows were put together, one of them being this night at, where else, the Curtain Club. And for the first time in a long time (or ever?), I went to concert not because I wanted to see the bands playing, but for the cause, despite having never known the man personally.
Enamored was the first band I caught this night, getting their short 25-minute set going the same way their “Requiem” EP does, with “Empty”. The turnout may have been small so early on, but those who were there should have been hooked immediately by that one, and a handful of people gravitated towards the stage. They then brought things into a little more of a raw rock mode, Thomas Stewart pounding out the drumbeats of “Release” with a fury, while Aaron Heles and Robert Albritton walked about the stage, picking at their guitar and bass, respectively.
Soon, Aaron led them into the next track and one of my favorites, “Bring Down”. “I’m never coming back now, I’m leaving this all behind. My life is moving forward…” belted out front women Jules at the start of the track, her deep, powerful voice gripping the listeners. One of their non-album tracks, “Better Off Alone”, came next, before kicking it back into overdrive with “Escape”.
A little break followed as Aaron had to tune his guitar, while Jules (somewhat) joked that it was “beer thirty”, before laughing that they needed a new guitarist who could tune faster. Once he got it ready, they showed off their softer side with “Free”, which has a great ebb and flow to it. “…This one’s called Slaves and Toys.” announced Jules before their next song, and before one of those songs she informed everyone they would soon be going back into the studio to record some of those, which will definitely be something to look forward to.
With that, they had reached the end of their performance, having time for only one more, which was “Never Again”.
Enamored keeps getting better, and even in just the few months since their CD release show (when I last saw them) I’d say they had stepped it up a bit.
Robert and Aaron seemed to have a little more presence, at times being very meticulous and calculated with what they were doing, and at others simply attacking their instruments. As for Thomas, he’s a machine on the drums and is a good fit with the group, while Jules has an amazing vocal range capable of hitting all sorts of notes.
Go see ‘em if you can, they won’t disappoint you, and you can check out their EP in iTUNES.
Eaglesnake was the next band up, and personally, I wasn’t a huge fan… At least not of some of their stuff.
Along with the typical band lineup, they had a singer who also played a keytar, and then a hip-hop vocalist. Now, I’m just not a real fan of hip-hop, which made it impossible for me to get into some of their stuff. On the other hand, the songs the other guy song, which were more rock based, were quite good and very enjoyable.
They did end their show in a killer way, though, as the keytar player used the instrument to play the Star Spangled Banner in its entirety, delivering a stellar version of it.
Next up was Fantasma, whom I was looking very forward to seeing, not just because they’re a great band, but also because it had been around a year since I had last caught one of their shows.
In that year’s time the band has been working on some new music for their sophomore release, material that filled their show this night, including their opener. It was great tune, featuring some killer bass lines from Daniel Castaneda. Only one track from “Stories of Earth Women” found its way into their set list this night (at least only one they played), and that was “Panda”, drummer Michael Kudlicki cutting loose on each chorus when the song exploded, truly getting wild on his kit.
A string of new songs followed, beginning with “Fire and Blood”, and after another one this loud rock band who has electronic elements laced into their music slowed things down. Dale “DJ” Wilkerson Jr. started singing, mostly a cappella, knocking out the first few lines of the song before his band mates eased into the song. It was (at least to start with) very different from most of their other stuff, which allowed it to stand out even more.
That different pace was continued as they pulled out a cover I had forgotten they had even done, and one you certainly wouldn’t expect from them. “I had a way then, losing it all on my own…” DJ crooned over the sample track for “Lights”, of course originally done by Ellie Goulding. It’s a far cry from the same song you’ve heard blanket the radio, though, as Fantasma puts much more of a rock spin on it.
While gearing up for the next song, DJ passed the time by cracking a joke. “I think the band before us made up half the crowd.” he said, before looking at guitarist Chad Abbott. “Was that a bad joke? I’m sorry, that was a bad joke.” he added, however, I found some humor in it. They were then informed they had enough time for one more, and with another new one already queued up, they went with it to close out their 29-minute long set.
I thoroughly enjoyed it all. First off, this was the first time I had seen them since Chad (best known as rhythm guitarist for SouthFM and in slightly more recent years Social Jab), and his slick, precise style of playing meshes well with the band. And while on the subject of new things, those songs seem to be a grade above what was on their first album, which is saying a lot.
As for the rest of the group, Dan, Michael and DJ all turned the heat up a bit, too, and put on a fierce live show.
Do check out their record in iTUNES, and keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE, as they do have a few more shows before the years end.
Closing out the night was local heavyweight Adakain. I had seen the band a few years ago (at least) at a show here at the Curtain, but that was well before they went through a lineup change, adding Ryan Ray on as the lead singer. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this.
They proved themselves a force to be reckoned with right from the start, with their high-octane show, guitarist Taylor Walding, bassist Jason Schauer and singer and guitarist Ryan Ray all thrashing about to Ryan Carroll’s drumbeats. That energy never ceased as they tore through their first couple of songs, before getting to one that was a staple of Ryan’s past project… Sort of. Assuming the title is still the same it was “How Could You?”, albeit a reworked version from what I was used to, which in the end seemed to bring the song new life.
Upon finishing it they took a breather. “…The music scene is badass…” Ryan stated, talking about how we take care of our own, and all came together this night for such a worthy cause. He then ditched his guitar for their next song, allowing him to be even more mobile than before, even doing a bit of jumping around the stage.
“…This song’s about never giving up on your dreams…” Ryan told everyone in setting up their next track, elaborating that so long as you have that drive you need to keep at it, because your dreams can’t come true if you’re not pursuing them. “This one’s called That Feeling.” he finished as the ripped through it. The following song also got a little explanation, and it was about letting people change you to please them, and how you shouldn’t. “…Fuck that, am I right?” Ryan said before they launched into one song that really stood out to me.
They wound it right into the next one, and in the little lull that connected the two Ryan again thanked everyone for coming out, acknowledging that everyone had to probably be up early for work the next day and how they appreciated the audience staying late. Not much noise was made when he asked who all did have to go to work the next day. “What, are you all drug dealers?!” he joked.
Now, in the final stretch of their 43-minute show, they pulled out some of the songs they’ve recently written, even working on them with Jeff Blue out in LA. One was the heavy hitter that is “Honey”, a vicious song that has some mainstream rock elements to it, and it’s my personal favorite from this new batch.
Longtime Adakain fans cheered as the band then pulled out the lead track from the “Silhouette of Lies” EP, “Sky is Falling”, which was proof to the adage, “save the best for last”, ‘cause it was without question one of their best songs this night. “Bleach it Out” came next, giving it a run for its money, and then they wrapped up the night with “Hello World”.
I’m going to have to try to make it to some Adakain shows a little more often…
The incredibly high-energy show they put on was more than enough to completely captivate you, and mixed with their great songs, they’re a pretty powerful force.
Adakain has been around for a little while now, making waves in the D/FW area and even across the country when they’ve toured, and maybe now, with this newest lineup, they can finally break through. The potential is definitely there.
You can buy the bands older stuff in iTUNES, while they have their three newest tracks up to listen to on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and stay tuned to it for future show updates the band will have.
It was a great night, and it was nice to see so many people come together to help a guy out. The turnout could have been better in my opinion, but still, for a Sunday night, it wasn’t bad at all.
Kudos to the bands who played and the fans who came out, whose sheer attendance proved how much they care not just about the local music scene, but the community, and the people who are a part of it.
Trees had put together a rather last minute local rock show for this night, with it coming together only about two weeks before. I knew nothing about it, aside from that Paco Estrada was playing it, doing his first full band Dallas show in three months, and it had been even longer than that since I saw him last, so there was no way I could miss this one.
There were only two opening bands, and I never caught the name of the first, probably because they had so many friends/fans out they didn’t think to drop their name, assuming everyone already knew who they were.
They didn’t do a lot for me, and part of that was due to their singers’ voice. In fairness, he did note he had been sick, even saying himself, “…My voice sounds like a bag of dicks…”, but all the same, there was only one song they did where I thought he sounded good and it was enjoyable. Aside from that, their music seemed a bit generic, very of pop/rock, and in a tiresome way.
A trio took the stage next, known as Nine Left Dead who had made the trek from Oklahoma City.
They opened with an instrumental song, which made me curious if that was going to be all they were, but starting with their next song, one of the members began singing (I believe it was the bass player).
The further they got into their show the more I enjoyed it, and some of their songs I thought were pretty well crafted, having some excellent music beds that were even catchy at times.
The only bad thing was they never really got any momentum going, often taking lengthy pauses in between songs, and at one point near the end the singer apologized to everyone, citing they were currently in the studio working on some stuff and they didn’t have much planned.
They could definitely stand to polish and tighten things up, but they are on the right track.
Last minute like this, you can’t expect to get an all-star lineup, but at least they were able to get one all-star act, and Paco Estrada and his band were about to take the stage.
When it came time for Paco and his band to start, pianist Scotty Isaacs began, softly striking the keys as he created a heavenly intro to “American Girls”. That was just one of several songs they did from the upcoming “Bedtime Stories” record, and Paco led them in winding it into their next song with some licks on his acoustic guitar.
Afterwards was when Paco formally introduced himself to everyone, though most of the meager crowd was probably already familiar with him. After another one of their new jams, they launched into one of the true gems from Paco’s recent years, and one that is just starting to find a life in the live set, “The Girl with the Heart of Steel”. “…The love you gave that could never be returned. So you took the knife and you cut your hand. You swore by your blood they could never break your heart again…” Paco belted out before they reached the chorus, “And that’s when you became the girl who could never feel…”.
He has penned a number of excellent songs over the years, and that one is close to the top of my list for being one of his best, especially in terms of lyrics. The new stuff kept coming with another catchy song, after which Paco slightly joked about one of the cities he frequents. “…Austin’s a good place for music, Dallas is of course great… But there’s just something about Tyler…” he said, not meaning any disrespect to the town at all, rather just saying it had a different vibe to it.
Things got more lively when they busted out “She”, whose more rock sound allowed Joel Bailey and Ryan Thomas Holley to cut loose a little more on their bass and guitar, respectively. Still, no one seemed to take more advantage of that song than drummer AJ “Irish” Blackleaf. He went ballistic on his kit, having almost a robotic style of playing by keeping his arms fairly rigid, but he tore it up, all the while wearing a smile, quite obviously having the time of his life.
As they wound up most of the upcoming music, they started to tap some of Paco’s (more recent) back catalog, with the fan favorite “Whiskey Kisses”, which sounds so much better when fleshed out by the full band. It was followed by another song all about love, which Paco explained was about a fairytalesque love, where you’re more or less caught up in the moment. It was a beautiful track, with the line (which I think I got right), “…These are the moments that make the hard times worth it…” being one that really stuck out to me.
That flow kept going with “When We Were Made”, Ryan adding some excellent notes to the end of it, which, while somewhat subtle, were enough to take the song to a whole other level. “Breaking Down” then brought the night to a close, the song springing to life towards the end when Paco crooned parts of the chorus. I really don’t think I’ve ever heard that song sound so intense before, as they embarked on more of an instrumental portion. As it drug on, I started to wonder if they were going to tack a cover song onto the end of it, as is tradition, or if they had switched it up in their time off. Eventually, it was met with the one response I was hoping for, the music subsiding as Paco sang, “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth?” I still say the addition of U2’s “One” is the best cover they’ve mixed with that song yet, and it seemed to sound extra amazing this night.
Paco had stated that would be their final song of the night, so as soon as it was over, the house music started coming back up, while a handful of fans begged for an encore. Their request was met when Paco stepped back up to the mic and said they did have one more for everyone. That last song was “Haunting Me”, and it was a nice end to their 59-minute long set.
It was an excellent show, and after again hearing some of those new songs, it got me all the more excited for “Bedtime Stories”, which will no doubt be a great collection of songs.
Also, the full band serves Paco, well, and after years of having a rotating cast of musicians accompanying him, it’s good to finally see some starting to became mainstays, like Joel and Scotty. Hopefully Ryan will be able to make this permanent, too, because his voice and slick playing added some nice elements to things this night.
Next up, Paco will be doing a couple of Austin shows, one on September 26th at 219 West Rooftop on 6th Street. The following night he’ll also be playing Darwin’s Pub, with Ryan Holley helping him out on both shows. Also, check out his records, including the very new “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” EP on his BANDCAMP PAGE. (Also, check out this interview Paco did with DFW Undercover.)
Despite the low turnout (which was expected for a last minute show), it was good night, and Paco and his band were more than worth the cover price.
This weekend was going to be spent in Fort Worth, and originally, I planned on seeing the Toadies this night as they kicked off the sixth edition of their music festival. Then I happened to check the show calendar for one Hayes Carll, only to see he was going to be playing at Billy Bob’s Texas this same night.
That show had already won out beforehand, but was only made better when I happened to score a pair of tickets via a contest Hayes did on Twitter a few hours before the show.
I had only been to Billy Bob’s once before, to see the aforementioned band, actually, and the set up this night was much different this time around. The substantial floor in front of the stage, which was completely empty on my first trip here, was now filled with seemingly endless rows of tables, stretching as far as possible from side to side and front to back. I assume this is probably how Billy Bob’s typically is, when they don’t have a rock band playing that could bring some rowdy fans.
It was a nice setup, and I was glad to find out that not only were there seats, but also what a good spot they were, being in the second row back from the stage and a little to the left of it.
It was a little after the 10:30 scheduled start time when someone there from Billy Bob’s got on stage and welcomed everyone to the show, plugging some of their other events while also noting what a big Hayes Carll fan he was, and how excited he was for the show. Once that business had been taking care of, he then welcomed the man of the hour to the stage, as Hayes Carll and his Gulf Coast Orchestra took the stage.
Hays got things going by plucking the strings of his acoustic guitar, slowly giving the first song shape, before singing the first line of “The Letter”. “I meet some wild people out here, those who are pretending and others more sincere…” he crooned on the seemingly appropriate opener that’s somewhat about his journeys on the road.
Upon finishing it, he officially announced who they were. “…All the way from Austin, welcome Hayes Carll and the Gulf Coast Orchestra.” Hayes said loudly as whipped into “Faulkner Street”. His Gulf Coast Orchestra got to step it more with this song, particularly Scott who no longer had to gently play his lap steel guitar, and electric guitarist Travis was able to cut loose on a brief solo or two. They moved right along to the next song, the crowd cheering after the first few chords that Hayes played. He then softened his playing, “I have two songs that start this way. I hope it’s the one y’all want to hear.” he said to the sizable audience. I believe it was the one fans were most excited to hear, and that was one of the fan favorites from the “Trouble in Mind” record, “Girl Downtown”. It had much of the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and it was also the first of a few consecutive numbers that found Travis holding the side of his guitar against him, picking at it as if it were a lap steel, while I believe Scott switched over to an electric guitar.
Even though they were only a few songs in, they had been knocking them out left and right, but now it was time for a story, as Hayes mentioned his hometown on the Texas coast, which was around Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, and it got a roaring applause from everyone. “…That’s the loudest applause Crystal Beach has ever gotten.” He said while laughing. He talked about a variety of things down there, but the central focus was one Bob’s Grill and World Famous Sports Bar, a club he used to play, which he said had a “misleading” name. “…The whole place was probably about as big as this stage is…” he said, adding that no one who was currently in attendance would have been there. He then backtracked slightly, “Well, you two might have been, but you would have been watching a fishing tournament or something.” He stated he was a bit of a wonder down there, being the only person who could both play a guitar and sing at the same time, so he quickly made a name for himself and started picking up more and more shows. “…My show at Jeannie’s One led to my show at Jeannie’s Two, which was a bait shop located right behind Jeannie’s One…” he said, while rattling off a few other venues.
He then wound things back to Bob’s, which was owned by (of course) Bob, who, as Hayes put it, “…was a drug dealer.” He went on to say he bought some exotic animals with his profits from selling drugs, “…But the prized possession in his collection was a African Lion.” said Hayes, adding that there was a window behind the stage at Bob’s, and when Hayes played there, Bob would often bring the Lion’s cage there and place it behind the window. He continued own, mentioning that Hurricane Ike had devastated the area a few years back, but before it hit, Bob did “the Christian thing” and let all of his animals loose to give them a fighting chance. “Now, instinctually, that lion went to higher ground…” Hays told everyone, with higher ground happening to be a church, a church which some people also took refuge in, entering only to see a lion already in there. “…It was three days before the National Guard could get in there to assist everyone, so for three days those people were on one side of the church, while the lion was on the other… Like a sort of redneck Life of Pi…” he added. “Now, the reason for that long winded explanation is because this next song has a line about a lion tamer, and I didn’t want anyone to get confused.” he pointed out.
The intro alone to “I Got a Gig” had an excellent sound, with one of the guitarists starting first, while the other followed suit shortly after. Oddly enough, it gave it somewhat of a haunting sound, but was soon broken when the rhythm section, bassist Cody and drummer Mark, as well as Hayes joined in. And that explanation does indeed help the song make a little more sense, as he sings on the third verse, “There’s an old lion tamer parked behind the bar, a hundred pounds of weed in a stolen car…”.
They then slowed things down as Hayes led them directly into “Rivertown”, a personally favorite of mine from the “Little Rock” record, and one I was ecstatic to hear them do. “…And time will bring you down, time make you cold. I turned my back some time ago, and now I’m going home…” he sang on the rather somber track, before they immediately picked the mood back up with the title track from that 2005 release. Both Scott and Travis used an electric guitar for “Little Rock”, a very rocking number, and while they were doing more intense songs, it only made sense to the title track from his most recent release, but first, it was time for some more witty banter.
“This song’s about a soldier who has a morphine induced coma…” Hayes informed everyone, then outlined all the things that happen in “KMAG YOYO” as being hallucinations from the drug. The funny part came when he said he has young singer/songwriters ask him what the formula is to have a hit song in the Top 40 country charts. “…Some people write songs as a story…” he said, also giving a few other examples of writing styles, calling them “irrelevant”. “…The thing you need in your songs is keywords. See, I know this, obviously.” he said, in perfect deadpan humor. He went on to say, “…I usually teach a seminar about this…”, before telling anyone who wanted to learn a thing or two to grab a pencil and some paper. “Those keywords are…” he said, then preceded to list off “Taliban”, “IED, or any other acronym you can think of”, “Trucks” and “Spring break” were some of the words he said every song needed to have to be a hit, and once he had dropped that knowledge on everybody, they ripped into the very rhyme based “KMAG YOYO”. Scott truly got to show off his chops as a guitarist on that one, killing it on the guitar solos, even embellishing them from how they are on the record, subsequently giving it even more rip-roaring action.
There was just enough of a pause to allow the audience to applaud them, while Travis took a seat behind the pedal steel guitar, finally putting it to use on the gloomy “Chances Are”. Things got a little more uplifting after that semi depressing track when Hayes announced the next song was (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing this) “drunks, and the women who love them.” Between that and pointing out that it was one he had co-written with Ray Wiley Hubbard, the fans knew exactly what song it was, loudly cheering for “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, which featured Travis on the mandolin. They didn’t let up, segueing it right into the next one. “I haven’t done this one in awhile, let’s see if I can remember the lyrics.” said Hayes before he started spitting out the lines of “Down the Road Tonight”. He didn’t seem to have any trouble with the words, and probably around halfway through the song they lightened up on the playing, allowing Hayes to formally introduce each of his band mates. Once he had done so, he left the stage, leaving Mark, Cody, Travis and Scott to do an instrumental jam, and quite a great job at it, at that.
After a minute or two, Hayes returned as they finished out the song, “Jukebox gypsies, mustang sally’s, don’t go walkin’ down dark alleys…”.
Most of his band left after it, leaving just he and Scott on stage, with Hayes informing everyone he was going to do a new song from his upcoming album, due out “…In the spring… Of 2017.” he joked. This was one he wrote about his son, who told him he wanted to be a magician. “Not a musician, a magician.” Hayes reiterated. He mentioned that’s a hard thing, because “…you see a life full of suffering ahead…” for your child, even saying his son wasn’t very good at first, and he would tell him when he was doing tricks for him that he could see what he was doing. “…But he didn’t listen to me or any of the other naysayers…” Hayes said, adding he had recently even become a member of the Austin Association of Magicians, an accomplishment that received some applause from the crowd. “You’ve heard of them?!” Hayes jokingly said, with surprise in his voice. He went on to say that his son is “…the youngest member, by about fifty years or so…” and they meet every other week “…At the IHOP, right by my house.” he finished.
There was an overall meaning to that story, though, as Hayes said he wished he had, had that spirit and determination his son does when he was his age, pointing out that everyone could benefit from picking what they really want to do and doing it, if only it were that simple. “…I hope he never loses that.” he said in closing. The song is called “The Magic Kid”, and it’s a sweet song with a message that everyone could take to heart, as he sings a few different times during it, “Who we are is who we are. Why is that so hard to be?”
While acoustic, it was a good change of pace from the other slower songs which dealt more with heartache, and as the Gulf Coast Orchestra filed back out on stage, Hayes again lightened up the mood by saying the next song was about license plates.
He named a few states and their slogans, like how Oklahoma is the OK state. “I like that, they’re like, “We’re not great, but we’re ok.” He said, and after mentioning North Carolina’s, he joked that that South Carolina’s was, “We wish we were North Carolina.” Talk then turned to the “Live Free or Die” state, New Hampshire, which Hayes said he felt was the best motto, eventually wrapping things up by saying how horrible it would be to be in prison in that state, having to make license plates that read, “Live Free or Die”. “…If you all listen to the third verse of this song, we might learn something tonight.” he told the audience before pulling out a track from his debut album, “Live Free or Die”. It was a humorous song, and that lesson he mentioned, well, it was, “…So if you catch your wife with another man, it’s best to hold off as long as you can. Then shoot him in another state where they got a different license plate.” That is just another example of what a brilliant writer Hayes is (and evidently always has been.)
“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” came next, albeit a much different rendition than that which you hear on “Trouble in Mind”. Hayes used a harmonica on parts of it, doing a very scaled back acoustic version of it. Personally, I am more of a fan of the album version, probably ‘cause I’m a rock fan first and foremost, but even acoustic the song sounds really good. Fitting with that tone was “Hard Out Here”, which again saw Travis playing the pedal steel. In what I’m guessing is typical fashion, Hayes added some additional lyrics near the end of the song, drawing from experiences on the road, as recently as that day.
He spoke it more than singing, telling the audience of how they played a show in Marfa the night before, and didn’t get to bed until about five in the morning. He continued by saying the hotel room was infested with various bugs and such, like a tarantula, which happened to be in his bed. So, after (literally) a couple hours of sleep, he said he and his band mates woke up and got in the van to head to Fort Worth, only to discover their van had broke down, resulting in some of them riding in an Impala to the show, while the others drove a U-Haul with the gear loaded in it. Such is the life of a touring musician.
Soon after finishing it, they pulled out another blistering number, “Stomp and Holler”, which was a signal that they were at the tail end of their performance, and they wound it pretty fluidly into “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”. Then, to wrap things up, they did the one song I had anxiously been waiting to hear since they first got on stage, “Beaumont”. That beautiful, straightforward love song about the feeling not being mutual was a perfect way to close things out, and that’s actually one of the few songs I’ve heard any band do that works well as both an opener and a closer (Hayes opened with it at a Dallas venue a few months back).
By the time that was all said and done, they had been on stage for an impressive 90-minutes, leaving me wondering if there even would be an encore or not.
Everyone was hoping for one, though, making sure the band knew it, too, by chanting “Hayes!” repeatedly. It had only been a minute or so since they had left when they made their way back out, Travis picking up the mandolin, while Scott was finally going to use the accordion. “I say this every night, but I would do this every night rather anyone shows up or not, but it’s sure a lot more fun when you do.” he said to everyone before embarking on a 12-minute encore portion. It was nearly impossible not to smile as they ran through the upbeat and incredibly catchy “Bottle in My Hand”, before an electric guitar and the lap steel were put back to work for “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long”. They had one last song left for anyone, another one that came from “KMAG YOYO”, “The Lovin’ Cup”, offering a good, upbeat way to call it a night, and after again thanking everyone for coming out, Hayes and the Gulf Coast Orchestra retreated back stage.
It was a fantastic show with a nice selection of songs from all of his releases, hitting just about every song the fans were wanting to hear and then some.
This was only the third time I’ve seen him live, and it was definitely the best, due mostly to the song selection in this lengthy set.
Hayes is a true entertainer, in terms of a singer and songwriter in the witty and/or honest songs he writes and the almost non-stop doses of laughs he adds to the live performance. So, if you want to see a very enjoyable and memorable show, go see Hayes Carll.
For a list of his tour dates, go HERE. He’s staying pretty busy through the end of September, with a few dates in the Mid-West and the East Coast, and will n doubt be announcing some more shows throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned. And to check out/purchase his music, head over to iTUNES.
It was a very fun night at Billy Bob’s, and at least now I can say I’ve seen a legitimate country show at the world’s largest honky tonk.
This was a big night for the local music advocates that collectively make up DFW Undercover, who specialize in doing video interviews with bands, as well as live photography (via Piercing Photography). This night marked their first ever showcase, and it was a singer/songwriter showcase at that.
The Labb in Denton was the host venue, and while I had heard of it before, I had never actually been there.
It’s mainly a sports bar, and as far as sports bars go, it’d be one I’d frequent if I lived closer to Denton… And if I was an avid sports fan. It was a nice place inside, with several large TVs hanging above the bar, and of course some pool tables and dart boards were scattered around, as well as some tables. The patio was where the show was taking place, though, where a decent stage is built as a permanent fixture, with plenty of tables and chairs to accommodate onlookers.
Zach Smith was the first artist this night, but I got there a little later then I intended, which resulted in me missing most of his set.
I really enjoyed what I heard, though, especially the song I walked in on, which featured a backing female vocalist along with him and his percussionist. “This next song’s about alchemy… But it’s about other stuff, too.” said Zach before beginning “The Stone Refined”, which was followed by a track titled “Waiting for the Sun”, which ended with a very long but very good sounding instrumental outro. They then did one last song to conclude their set, which Zach pointed out to his little section of fans was, who had been cheering him on, was one they had never heard before.
Even with only catching a glimpse of his performance, I thought he sounded great, and he has an excellent voice.
Aside from this solo stuff, he also plays in a band called Cloth’d in the Sun, so check them out, too.
Up next was Dallas based singer/songwriter Ashley Falgout, who, like the other acts on this bill, I had never heard of previously, but was interested to hear.
She played a large array or original material during her 52-minute long set, and after finishing her first song, she confessed/joked that she does “…a lot of songs that are half-ass written…” That may be true, but to me, I certainly never would have guessed that, let alone thought it.
After playing another tune, she mentioned how warm it was (the downside of a patio in the Texas summer), then proceeded to set up a cover song. “Sometimes I learn other people’s songs…” she said, then added, “Or two chords out of it…”, noting that she doesn’t feel it has to be precise. That led to do an amazing rendition of Ani DeFrancos’ “Not a Pretty Girl”, a song that she really turned into her own.
She did a nice job of conversing with the crowd, even if it was a one-sided conversation most of the time, it made it seem like she was really able to connect with everyone, and now talked turned to Spotify. She said she only recently learned what it was, and her album, Long Over Due”, could be streamed on it. “…Or if you want to give me money…” she said, pointing out it was also on iTUNES.
She did another killer song about a past relationship, and followed it with a medley of one of her songs as well as a cover of what she said was her favorite song, but (not surprisingly) was one I didn’t recognize. Afterwards, she cranked out a few more numbers, before ending with what I think was “Just Another Lullaby”, and then that was only because the sound guy informed her she needed to wrap it up.
She wound up being my personal favorite act of the night, with her incredible and distinctive voice, which even sounded a bit sultry at times. She was also a very talented songwriter, with fantastic lyrics that often seemed pretty personal.
If you’re into the whole singer/songwriter genre, then Ashley Falgout is definitely one you need to listen to, and her record can be purchased HERE.
There was one last act up for the night, and it was more of a full acoustic band, led by Fred Rush. He’s probably best known as being the drummer for Ugly Mustard (who have been a fixture in the D/FW music scene since ’93), and as far as his new solo project went, this was only going to be their second show.
This acoustic trio, which also consisted of Jeff Michnal on the cajon and Johnny Pina on an acoustic bass, opened with “My Heart Screams”, which was a real knockout. “This is what I’ve been waiting for. I can’t believe I found it, finally…” Fred crooned at the start, shortly before the song kicked into high gear, given they were just using acoustic instruments, after all. Once they finished it, Fred took a moment to thank DFW Undercover for hosting this event, as well as the goal they have. “…I’ve been on a soapbox for twenty to thirty years…” said Fred, saying that the people behind DFW Undercover seemed to be on the exact same soapbox. That soapbox he was referring to was sharing the mentality that everyone in the scene needs to come together for the sake of making things better, rather than bands, venues and the ilk acting as if other bands and venues and such are their competition.
They then moved on to what was a pretty upbeat sounding song, “Insomnia”, with another tune sandwiched between it and “Marigold Lane”. They played several seconds of that latter one, before Fred suddenly brought things to a halt. “I started it in the wrong key.” he said, laughing, adding he thought about going with it, but then decided against it. It had sounded good before, but the key it was supposed to be played in served to make it an even more infectious song, and towards the end of it, Fred’s son, Trent, joined them on stage, adding a little extra percussion to the mix. He grabbed a guitar for the next song, though, and took a seat on a stool on stage right.
Fred stated that they were going to do a cover song, and they gave the crowd a little tropical taste by trying their hand at the Zac Brown Bands’ “Island Song”. Not quite what you’d expect from some guys who are typically in rock bands, but they pulled it off nicely, and despite the contrast between it and Fred’s original stuff, that cover meshed nicely with it all. They had another cover in store for everyone, and as Fred put it, it was in the “spirit of the singer/songwriter showcase”. “…I don’t know where he gets it from…” Fred cracked after informing everyone that his son played in a band, and now the father and son duo kind of co-sang on “Diary for Poets”, which Trent wrote for his group Welcome to Wednesday, though it was Trent who did a bulk of the singing on this one.
Trent, too, could certainly sing, and he and Fred created some awesome harmonies on that track. “…The band was called Fred, I think we’re going to rename it Trent.” Fred joked after they finished it. Apparently, Trent was supposed to leave after that, but he decided they should do an impromptu performance of “All Apologies” by Nirvana. Jeff, Johnny and Fred went with it, with Fred chiming in from time to time, and given the fact that this wasn’t planned, they nailed it. At least I thought they did.
Trent did exit the stage after that one, and they began wrapping up their 51-minute set with another original, before things got a little heartfelt with the last song. Fred dedicated it to his father, whom he said was like Superman to him growing up, and that currently he was experiencing some health issues. With that said, it was fitting that the song was called “Ordinary Superman”, and it brought their set to a wonderful end.
You wouldn’t have guessed this was just their second show, ‘cause Fred seemed perfectly at home behind the microphone with a acoustic guitar in his hands, just like Jeff looked comfortable playing the cajon, yet both have little live experience with any of that.
Fred has a pretty unique sounding voice, too, so it’s hard to believe he’s been keeping that in for song. Oh, and he writes some really good lyrics as well. And for the record, Fred Rush and his band made a lot of noise for an acoustic group.
I know what I said about the artist before them, but I liked Fred Rush and his band just as much, in a different way.
That’s what was so cool about this night. All of these singer/songwriters covered different areas of the spectrum, which was just another reason why I loved the showcase so much, because I don’t see that many singer/songwriters, let alone a small handful on one night, so it was nice that it was all so eclectic, with each act having different styles.
Kudos to DFW Undercover for orchestrating such a cool event, and expect more from them. In fact, they have another show at Hailey’s in Denton on October 11th.
All photos courtesy of Piercing Photography. All rights belong exclusively to them.
A Tuesday night is a bit of an odd night for a show. At least it is in most towns, but not Denton, where the venues in the college town regularly host bands on any given night of the week. And making this show a little more special was the fact that the old Denton residents, now Austinites, known as the Riverboat Gamblers were kicking off their summer tour.
I had heard of the Gamblers quite awhile back, but had never seen them live until nearly a year ago down in New Braunfels at the Dia de los Toadies music festival, and since then had anxiously been waiting for them to hit the D/FW area.
Rubber Gloves was hosting the show, providing a more intimate setting to see the band in, though it seemed near impossible to reach the venue, which is right next to some train tracks, and a train was just sitting there on the tracks. Not being a Denton local, I don’t know my way around well enough to have figured out a back roads approach, which meant I waited nearly an hour before the thing finally got off the tracks.
By that time the first band had just finished, and the next band quickly set their gear up. They weren’t the next act, though. Instead, Mike Wiebe of the Riverboat Gambler got up on stage and announced they were doing something they seldom do, and that was have a comedian do a set, and then welcomed his friend on stage.
His name was John Tole, and I’m not in the business of reviewing comedians, so I won’t him. However, I will say I found him to be funny as hell. Nothing seemed to be off limits in his short little set, and that included making fun of himself, from his weight to his appearance. The humor was largely, shall we say, “adult”, and although it at times made you cringe, it was impossible not to laugh.
Great comedian, and definitely one I’d like to see again sometime.
At 10:35, the next band took the stage, and that was Blacklist Royals, who were from Nashville, Tennessee, and were touring with the Riverboat Gamblers.
During their 38-minute long set, the quartet played an array of songs, new and old, first playing a couple newer ones back-to-back. They had a bit of a punk rock sound (and look), and sped through those first two songs, before their singer and rhythm guitarist addressed the crowd briefly. “Things They Say” was one of several songs they did from their debut album “Semper Liberi”, and then did a couple more new ones which were bled into one another, and one of those was the title track of their next album, “Die Young with Me”. With some feedback emitting from the bass and guitars, they swirled it into “Rock and Roll”, which certainly seemed to embody the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirit.
Things then took a more serious turn, even hitting a somber note,when the singer stated that he wrote the next song about a fried who had passed away in recent years. It was pretty heavy, but that realness it captured was what made it such a fantastic song, one of the best of their show in my opinion. They rolled it right into another one, and after finishing it joked about how the Riverboat Gamblers fan demographic was not women, though there were a few in attendance, and the singer said something along the lines of, “You look good.” “…This next one’s a brand new one. We’ve never even played it before.” He said, before the group launched into a song that I believe was called “She’s the One”. This may have been its live debut, but they seemed pretty polished while playing it, and if he hadn’t have said that in the first place, I would have figured they had played it several times over before. The drummer transitioned them into their next track, “White Line Fever”, before they switched things up a bit, with the lead guitarist and bass player leaving the stage. “…This song’s about my hometown in my home state… Which is a long way from here.” The singer announced, performing the song solo, before they kicked things back up with another song or two.
Before wrapping up their set, the singer mentioned the merch they had for sale at the back, joking about it not being all riches while out on the road, even teasing that the bass player had to take out a loan just to afford the shirt he had on. “…He ruined his credit, but at least he looks good.” he said, getting a laugh from everyone. “…Sing it if you know it!” he later shouted, before singing the first line of the very patriotic “American Hearts”, “There’s an American heart, reckless and wild…”
That song brought their time on stage to a roaring finish, and while the Blacklist Royals didn’t have nearly as many eyes on them as they deserved, they did seem to make fans out of everyone who was watching, myself included.
Like I said, their music had a real punk flare to it, in the sense that it was fast and rather aggressive. However, after listening to their first album, I get a real [Bruce] Springsteen-esque vibe from them. Not in the musical style so much, but just in the fact that the Blacklist Royals songs tell actual stories that can strike a chord with people, while embodying the American spirit.
In listening to their stuff, it’s easy to see why they have toured so extensively over the last few years, both nationally and internationally, and they no doubt keep winning over new fans wherever they play.
Head over to iTUNES and give their record a listen, or even buy it, and stay tuned for their next record. And if you get a chance to see them live, you should definitely take it. You can find all their tour dates right HERE.
Now, it was finally time for the Riverboat Gamblers. The large crowd had packed in the showroom early in anticipation of the band, and people got even closer to the stage when drummer Sam Keir and bassist Rob Marchant made their way on stage. They got things going with some heavy beats and riffs, a prelude to the chaotic blitz that was to come, and kept it going while the remaining members took the stage.
Front man Mike Wiebe, guitarists Fadi El-Assad and Ian MacDougall and Rob then proceeded to clap, getting most everyone involved before they tore into their first number, “Rattle Me Bones”. That fast paced tune had everyone moving around, a mosh pit erupting at the front of the stage, while those who didn’t want to partake moved back to where it was safe. The band instantly got into show mode, and Mike continuously walked to the edge of the stage, leaning forward and falling out at the crowd, causing the moshers to stop, catching him, sometimes before his feet even left the stage as they simply pushed him back up. It was quite cool, and something he did constantly throughout the show.
As the song neared the end, he ran over to stage right, grabbed part of the curtain and ripped it from the wall (in fairness it’s not attached all that well), while Sam transitioned them into their next song. The adrenaline kept flowing as they launched into the lead track from 2012’s “The Wolf You Feed” album, “Good Veins”. “…You knew what I was before you fell in love. I’ve got bad blood you’ve got good veins…” shouted Mike, while his band mates often added some backing around him, adding a good layer to it and the majority of theirs other songs this night.
“…We pound these guitars like jackhammers!” Mike exclaimed as they took a very short timeout to tune up before getting back to business with “Bite My Tongue”. Ian, Rob and Fadi continued thrashing about while shredding on their instruments, as Mike hurriedly paced about the stage, at one point jumping up and grabbing the main support beam on the ceiling (which was just a few feet above his head), and hung from it for a few seconds. At this point, Mike noted that he and Fadi grew up in Denton. “…A lot has changed since then. Like, apparently now trains can just park on the tracks for as long as they want…” he joked. He went on to say they had moved off nearly ten years ago, but were now going to do a song they wrote while they still lived in Denton. “…Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I want to play for you all a song from a record called Something to Crow About. It’s called Save You!” he roared as they exploded into what ended up being a sing along.
They kept on drawing from that now ten year old record, segueing things directly into “Hey! Hey! Hey!”, and soon after taped one of their more recent releases, doing the quick song “DissDissDissKissKissKiss”. As it neared the end, Mike left the stage, winding his way through the audience, and best I could tell even left the showroom, working his way into the bar area. The instrumentalists kept right on going, bleeding the music bed perfectly into their current single, “Blue Ghosts”. Ian handled the backing vocals at the start of the song, before Mike seemed to suddenly re-materialize, making his way back on stage, not missing a line of the song. Upon finishing it, they churned on one last quick song, “Death by Stereo”, before gearing up for what would come next.
Mike decided to get up close and personal with everyone for the next song, dragging the mic stand out into the crowd, everyone in the general area dispersing, giving him enough room while still circling around him to watch. The audience sang along to “Comedians” while the band cranked it out. I was one of the lucky few who was as close as possible for this, and at one point my hat got lifted as Mike put it on himself (I’m sure that has to up its value to at least 25 to 30 bucks), but the best part came when he continued to search for more antics to pull. He walked over to one side of the room where a folding chair sat, and once he moved it the sound of glass shattering could be heard. He then put the chair around him, the seat resting on his back, while he held the top of it so the bar wouldn’t choke him. It made for a crazy good and memorable moment.
Ian, Fadi, Rob and Sam moved right along into “The Ol’ Smash and Grab”, and Mike rejoined them moments later. As I said, he had often stepped off the stage this night, allowing the fans to catch him, but he did a full-blown stage dive during that song. No advanced warning or anything, just leapt into the air without fear of falling, and sure enough, everyone’s arms shot up in the air, catching him without fail. Once that tune came to an end, Mike joked that he needed everyone’s approval, and he’d appreciate it if people “wooed” along with him, leading the swarm of fans in shouting “Woo!” a few times over. Soon after they tackled “Keep Me From Drinking”, though it was the following song that was a standout of the night. “This song is very fast!” said Mike before they burst into “The Song We Used to Call Wasting Time”. He wasn’t lying, and the lightning fast paced rhythm section incited another mosh pit, and almost on the same level of quickness was another track from “To The Confusion of Our Enemies”, “Rent is Due”.
That unrelenting approach of diving from one song to the next was working incredibly well for them. And even when they did stop, it usually wasn’t for long, like now, when Mike mentioned how great their newest record was. “…That’s not me being cocky, either. Jesus told me so.” he said, setting up the glorious “Heart Conditions”. Their set was nearing the end now, but before getting to their last batch of songs, Mike told everyone a story, beginning with them driving down University earlier in the day, making him recall his youth.
“…I don’t want to sound like that guy who says things were better in my day or things are better now…” he said at the start, mentioning how earlier in the day he had seen a kid on a skateboard crossing the highway. I should note I don’t remember the whole story verbatim, but he went on to say back in his day you had to watch out for “cowboys” and such. He went on to say he had a run in with one of these cowboys at the Arby’s (which he noted was something else now), when one walked up to him and asked him a unintelligible question. “…At first I thought he was asking if I wanted any sausages, and I didn’t know how to answer that question…” Mike said, then added he found out the guy was asking him, “Do you want to start any shit?!”, to which he said he replied “No.” and then went home. That story got quite a few laughs, while the next part got the applause, when he said several years ago, he had met some very good friends, and a few years later they began playing friends house parties. And now, they tour the country and the world together.
No sooner had he said that then they tore into “True Crime”, before unleashing the monster of a song that is “On Again, Off Again”. They kept drawing from their 2006 record, doing “Don’t Bury Me… I’m Still Not Dead Yet”, which is nothing short of an anthem (an excellent one at that) and again at the crowd going wild. It was a fitting way to end their set, though they weren’t quite done yet, and Mike summed up the whole encore process. “…We can go out back for a few minutes while y’all chant for us to come back…” he said, “…Or we can do one fucking amazing song right now, and then all meet up at the bar.” The fans chose the latter option, skipping all the BS and getting right to the point. “…This one’s called The Art of Getting Fucked Over!” declared Mike, before they started the final song of their 55-minute set. He got back out in the crowd again on this one, grabbing the chair from earlier (the same one he placed around him), standing on it this time around. “I want to see the slowest circle pit ever around me.” He commanded, the audience pushing in as they began to encircle him. Next he said he wanted to see everyone’s hands on the backs of the people in front of them, giving them a little massage. Everyone did just that, chanting along with him towards the end, “G-A-M-B-L-E-R.” The tame circle pit suddenly sprang to life when the song picked back up, the people scattering and slamming against one another as it became a full-fledged mosh pit, and was an epic way to end what had been an epic performance.
The most enthralling quality the Riverboat Gamblers have is their brash, “fuck it” attitude. I mean that in the best way possible, because while a lot of bands say it’s all about the music, very few actually take it to the extent that they do. From the first chord you could tell Fadi, Ian, Rob and Sam had completely succumbed to the music, letting it flow over them, and the same could be said of Mike, who was being completely spontaneous throughout the night.
That’s kind of what I mean by the “fuck it” attitude, thing. Aside from the songs themselves, nothing was rehearsed or pre-planned. They just got up there, cut loose and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. In turn, that makes the show a truly unique experience for the spectators, because this night was different than any other night of their tour will be. Just like the gig the following night was no doubt different than any other stop of the tour will be.
They’re performers through and through, and you if you want to see an intense, high-strung show, you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than what the Riverboat Gamblers put on.
For info on all their show dates, go HERE. They will be playing in Denver, CO, Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, Fullerton, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Tempe, AZ, El Paso, TX and Austin, TX, with the tour ending on September 7th. They also have a show in Dallas on September 12th at Three Links (it’s part of the Elm Street Music and Tattoo Festival), which means I know where I’ll be on 9/12. And don’t forget to pick up their records in iTUNES.
Great night filled with raw Rock ‘n’ Roll, and, thanks in part to the comedian, a good dose of humor, too.
How many concerts are six years in the making? Not many, but the one being held at the Granada Theater this night was.
It had been six years since The Polyphonic Spree, the massive twenty-piece pop choral group, released their last original album. Lucky for me I only became a fan a few months ago, so I didn’t have to endure that grueling wait, but that didn’t mean I was any less excited for the release of “Yes, It’s True”, or what was bound to be an unforgettable performance in celebration of its release.
Kicking off the night was current Los Angeles resident Harper Simon. He wasn’t an acoustic act, though, which is what one might think since he and his full band just went by his name. Their 37-minute long set consisted mostly of songs from their most recent effort, “Division Street”, though I admittedly had trouble trying to figure out exactly what they played.
I felt they got off to a bit of a shaky start with their first couple of tracks. I’m not necessarily even saying they were bad, just unsteady. After finishing that second one Harper mentioned this was the first time he had ever played Dallas, but he seemed to be liking it. He conversed with sixty plus people who had gotten there early for a few minutes, ending by saying how great it was to be in The Polyphonic Spree’s hometown, and that he was looking forward to the upcoming tour opening for the group.
They then tackled another song, and it was with this third one where they really hit their stride and began to take charge. It came across as being more Rock ‘n’ Roll than those first two tracks, with the drummer and bass player making things more cohesive, while the lead guitarist as well as Harper, who also was rocking an axe, cut loose, letting the notes soar. They were on a roll now, and after pointing out that this was the bass players first live show with them, Harper and his band mates began their next song. Actually, it was the drummer and keyboard player who started it, and a few seconds in Harper stopped them. “…That’s too slow…” he stated, in a nice yet firm way, resulting in the drummer stopping before counting them back in, this time picking up the pace. The song was “Bonnie Brae”, which, like most of the others, had a dreamy pop/rock quality to it, making it completely engrossing.
They slowed things down for the next song, with a stagehand bringing an acoustic guitar out for Harper. While plugging it in and making sure it was tuned, he again addressed the crowd. “…I’m having a moment with you as an audience…” he said, making a great compliment, which spoke to both how receptive the people were being to him and his music, as well as how much he truly appreciated the crowd. “Just Like St. Teresa” was a big departure from the rest of the show, though the folksy sounding song was great, and as it tailed off, the lead guitarist picked things back up, segueing them directly into their next song while Harper switched back to his electric.
“Veteran’s Parade”, the lead track from Harpers’ latest release, was a real highlight of their set, while “Dixie Cleopatra” concluded their time on stage, and while Harper’s skill at playing the guitar was more subtle at times, this was another song where he (as well as his band mates) got to show their chops and shred.
It was a very enjoyable set, and he seemed to win over a number of people on his first trip to Dallas.
After listening to the recorded music, I do think it sounds different from what you get in the live setting, particularly his voice, which just has some different qualities to it in this environment. It was all for the best in my opinion, because raw his voice seemed a little more soft spoken than what it is on the record, which enhanced the mood of the songs. It was just little things like that, that I don’t feel are quite captured on the albums, but live they make the music that much better. And speaking of the music, it was fairly feel good, with some of the songs having tinges of surf pop (at least I thought so), and they were all very easy to get into.
It’s easy to see why they were tapped to go on tour with The Polyphonic Spree, because both acts to mesh pretty well music-wise.
Their next dates are: August 15th at Neumos in Seattle, WA, the 16th at The Venue in Vancouver, Canada, the 17th in Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom, the 19th at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA, the 20th in Santa Ana, CA at Observatory and the 22nd in Los Angeles, CA at the El Rey. You can also purchase both of Harper’s records in iTUNES.
Second up this night was the Fort Worth based folk rock band known as Telegraph Canyon, who had a little bit of a tie to The Polyphonic Spree. It turns out, that violinist Tamara Cauble used to play with The Spree at one point, making this a reunion of sorts, albeit in a very roundabout way.
The sextet opened with their newly released single, “Wheel to the Garden”, from their much anticipated forthcoming album. In fact, many of their songs this night were newer ones from it. It was merely the first of many brilliant songs they cranked out this night, though “Wheel to the Garden” featured some amazing harmonies from lead singer and acoustic guitarist Chris Johnson, violinist Tamara Cauble as well as bassist Chuck Brown, their voices intertwining quite gorgeously. At one point during the song Chris walked back towards the gear, jumping on his amp as he focused on his playing, continuing to get more into it, before hopping back down when he was required to sing again.
The dialogue with the ever-growing crowd was kept to a minimum, as they blazed through all the songs they had planned, and following that opener was a track from 2009’s “The Tide and the Current”, “Safe On the Outside”. It took the array of textures from their first song and built upon them, showing even more depth. “How many of you have seen us before?” asked Chris, resulting in quite a few hands shooting up in the air, as well as some cheers and applause. He went to thank the Granada for having them out, joking that he didn’t know why, but they kept asking them back to play, and he was very glad they did.
Chris then swapped out to a banjo, and while he was doing that a stagehand miked the xylophone that the keyboardist, who I believe was named Bobby, and later in the show Christ noted he was the newest addition to the group, was getting ready to play. It’s not an ordinary xylophone, though, looking more like a children’s toy, since it’s made to look like a tiger. Drummer Austin Green started a soft, steady beat before the other instruments joined in on “Shake Your Fist”. The simple part from the xylophone is also what makes the song stand out so much, as is what happened at the end, when Erik Wolfe proceeded to play his guitar with a bow, like what a cello player would use, resulting in somewhat of an ethereal sound.
The different instruments just kept on coming, and now Bobby picked up a mandolin for their next couple of songs, two newer songs of theirs which segued nicely into one another. He then got down with an electric guitar, while Tamara picked up the keyboard duties, before they returned to their original positions for yet another newer track. After all that, they pulled out another classic, “Quiet Assurance”, which really livened things up, before following it with another tune. For their next one, Chris again busted out the banjo, while Bobby picked the mandolin back up for the haunting, “Reels and Wires”. “…The water’s washing over you. Holding all the reels and the wires, give it all up in good time. The waters washing over you…” crooned Chris near the end, before he, Chuck and Tamara again harmonized into their mics, softly “ooooh”ing. Austin also added a different sound to this one, using a maraca in place of one of his drum sticks, creating a nice little sound.
They had been playing for awhile already, and seemed like they should be finishing any moment now, but they still had a few more songs to offer, and no one seemed to mind that, despite being anxious for The Polyphonic Spree. They gave the now nearly sold-out crowd, before concluding their 55-minute long set with a number from their debut album “All the Good News”. Chris placed a neck holder around his neck to hold the harmonica, while Bobby got Erik’s guitar, and he in turn got a rather large bass drum with a strap that he placed around his shoulder. They then started in on “Old Dark Hymns”, It takes on a whole new life live, than the way it comes across on the album, sounding nothing short of epic, and seemed to whip the crowd into a pretty excited state before the band waved goodbye and the screen descended, covering the stage.
I’ve had a few encounters with Telegraph Canyon, the first being a little over three years ago at the inaugural Homegrown music festival, and then earlier this year. Their music didn’t appeal to me much that first time around, and while I enjoyed it more the second time, I still wasn’t a fan. But this night, it clicked with me. I’m not even sure there was much of a difference as far as their performance went, aside from maybe they made sure they were more on the ball than usual since they were playing the stage of the Granada.
Still, the music really gripped me this night (and from the looks of many other people), successfully converting me into a fan of Telegraph Canyon. Afterwards, there was a comment of “Nice Mumford and Sons tribute set.” that someone made via Twitter, which showed up in the live Twitter feed displayed one of the screens inside the venue. There music’s more than that, though.
It’s at times, dark, ominous and moody, sometimes all at once, with a lot of layers to it and acute musicianship, set off by the distinctive and strong voice Chris has.
Honestly, they came very, very close to giving The Polyphonic Spree a run for their money. That’s how great they were this night.
They have a few shows lined up over the next few months, with one being on September 20th at The Live Oak in Fort Worth. On October 4th they’ll be in Hot Springs, AR where they’ll be part of the Hot Water Hills Festival, and on November 16th they have another Dallas gig booked at Sons of Hermann Hall. And you can of course find both of their albums in iTUNES, and by this year’s end (at the latest) they should have their third record released.
The crowd was amazing. It had been a very long time since I had seen the Granada this truly packed, with even the upstairs level full, while people were packed tightly in on the tiered levels in the general admission section.
The thirty-minute (give or take) intermission passed rather quickly, and at 10:31 when the lights dimmed, a loud cheer erupted from the fans mouths, followed by an odd hushed silence. A white banner was stretched across the stage, and while the bands heartening intro music played, front man Tim DeLaughter began to write in it, working his way from right to left I might add.
By the time he finished spray painting all the letters on it, it read, “We go back a long time”, and he even added a some eyes and a smile to the center of the O in “long”, while also adding an arrow to it all. Soon, a pair of scissors appeared as he cut the banner from the bottom up, revealing the massive band dancing about, already getting down to the music, but soon, they stopped. Nineteen out of the twenty members stood so perfectly still you would have thought they had turned into statues, while the trombone player was tinkering with his instrument, apparently having some technical difficulty. They all sprang back into action after a dozen or so seconds, with the intro music giving way to their first song of the night…
The keyboardist then entered in, banging on the same key, creating a euphoric sensation amongst the crowd as they realized it was “Section 12 (Hold Me Now)”. “He started the day with a mood and a shake, he was finally arranged…” Tim sang on the first of many joyous songs that would be played this night, while he darted about the stage. They bridged that song together nicely with “Section 25 (Younger Yesterday)”, and while it was a little less exuberant than the first song, better showcasing the violin, cello and such, it still stuck with The Polyphonic Spree’s mold of being incredible positive, uplifting music.
The fans finally had a chance to applaud their hometown heroes after that song, and it went on and on, seeming like it may never cease. Tim beamed at the audience, as did the rest of the band, appearing to feel overwhelmed by all the love, and he offered a “thank you” or two back at everyone, sounding very sincere by it. After those couple of tracks from older albums, it was time to pull out something from “Yes, it’s True”, the album this night was all about. The stage fell under complete darkness for a moment, before Tim turned on some globes, two of which sit at the front of the stage, revolving around and projecting an array of vibrant, largely pastel colors out at the crowd. There was also one that sat further back at center stage, emitting bright lights. They succeeded at creating a mood, and while generally I don’t pay too much attention to the lights, this was absolutely breathtaking. The dreamy sounds of “Popular by Design” were intoxicating, and while the song does sound different live then it does on the recording, it’s in a good way. “You know that I know you’re popular by design…” the six-part all female choir sang, with Tim accompanying them on the chorus, giving it an extra punch. Then, as if they had done it a thousand times already, Tim switched the lights off at the exact moment the song came to an end, while the house lights powered back on.
The stuff from their previous album, 2007’s “The Fragile Army”, kept coming, as they pulled out “Section 29 (Light to Follow)”, and as it drew to a close, Tim slowed his dancing down, to the point he was doing the robot, before gradually giving himself a little more range as he limbered back up. Their near flawless pace continued as the band segued them right into their next song, and it was another that really captured everyone’s attention. “I wrote this song on the Katy trail…” Tim stated, adding that he knew everyone knew it. “…This is Two Thousand Places!” he exclaimed, as they launched into “Section 14 (Two Thousand Places)”. One of several epic moments of the night was created during that song, which turned into a sing-along, when Tim pointed the mic out at the audience, the fans chanting the heavily repeated line, “You gotta be good, you gotta be strong, you gotta be two thousand places at once.” The throng of fans thoroughly enjoyed being made a part of this event instead of simply spectators, and so too did Tim enjoy seeing so many people singing along to his music, you could tell from the grin he was almost constantly wearing.
Tim again acted as a conductor as they immediately started their next number, thrusting his arm into the air, the drummer dropping a single beat in perfect time with it, and so too did the rest of the group play a single note on their instruments. That went on for a few times before they dove into one of my favorites, the upbeat and infectious “Section 23 (Get Up and Go)”. Towards the end, Tim wrapped the microphone cord around his neck, taking a few second breather as the group finished up that song, before unwinding it as they did the track that precedes it on the album, “Section 22 (Running Away)”. They took an actual break afterwards, and Tim thanked everyone for coming out to the show, which he noted had been many years in the making. And speaking of the new album, it was about time they did another song from it, and in setting it up he mentioned he had written it down on Ross Street, I believe in an old theater located there.
It was the first single from “Yes, it’s True”, “You Don’t Know Me”, and it’s also probably one of the most encouraging songs the band has ever churned out. “There’s always someone there to bring you down again. There’s always more to you then there are of them…” goes the song, which is nothing short of a feel good anthem. The globe lighting from the earlier song was in play for that song, as well as for the next one. “What’s that? Another new one?”Tim asked before they did another heavy hitter from the album, the brilliant and poppy sounding “Hold Yourself Up”. “Section 8 (Soldier Girl)” got off to a more intense start than usual, with all of the women in the band shouting into their mics a few times, giving it a nice jumpstart that enhanced the overall mood of it.
They marched on, though Tim quickly had his band quiet things down so he could explain the song. Apparently, it was only released on a Japanese release, but they had busted it out a few days before in London for a show which was broadcasted live on the internet, and now they were going to do it for their hometown. “…It’s a fun little diddy…” said Tim, while also pointing out that he “vetoed it” from the “Together We’re Heavy” album. The song was called “The Best Part”, and it was indeed fun, and I found it to be one of the best songs of their set. “Let’s do…” Tim trailed after that last song came to an end, and he leaned over to the cello player to I assume ask her what the name of the song was. “We Sound Amazed!” he shouted after leaning back in front of his microphone.
The mostly soothing sounds of “Section 11 (We Sound Amazed)”, matched by Tim crooning was one of the most beautiful moments of the night, and it also served as a sign that their show was in its final leg. They bleed it so perfectly into their next song, you could hardly tell where it ended and “Section 2 (It’s the Sun)” began. The audience was eager to help out on that one, too, and the final lines of “Hey, it’s the sun!” were shouted enthusiastically by almost everyone. Now it was time for the cover portion of the show, and first up was the Nirvana classic “Lithium”, with a bit of a pop rock twist added on it, of course.
There were several stand out moments from this show, but the one that takes the cake came during this song when Tim seemed to suddenly vanish from the stage, and he made his way out into the audience, getting to probably the second row from the stage. About halfway through the song he asked everyone to sit down, and while he had to say it a few times, and even pointed out a man in the upstairs are who wasn’t following instructions, everyone eventually obliged. “…Alright, from the top…” he said, the crowd softly joining him in singing, “I’m so happy, ‘cause today I found my friends. They’re in my head…”, before he and everyone else in the building jumped back up when the song kicked back in. I have to say, that’s one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced at a concert, and it’s a moment that will stick with me for a long time, if not forever.
Some reminiscing went on before their next song, as Tim spoke about the iconic Dallas band he was a part of known as Tripping Daisy. “…The band that just keeps coming up…” he said, before soon going over and hugging bassist Mark Pirro, who was also part of that 90’s era band. It was clear what they were setting up, but it was still so incredible to hear the classic “My Umbrella”, from the album “Bill”, which was put out over twenty years ago now. The harp, French horn and countless other instruments add so much to that song, no doubt changing it from the way it was done all those years ago, but it’s still a beast of a song. That rock number soon gave way back into the dreamy pop style that makes The Polyphonic Spree so delightful in the first place, and they concluded their 89-minute long set with “Section 9 (Light and Day - Reach for the Sun)”.
They didn’t take their leave right away, though, as Tim embarked on a several minute long speech about a variety of things, from thanking everyone for making “Yes, it’s True” possible (it was funded via a successfully Kickstarter campaign) to just thanking their hometown crowd for coming out and making this such a special night. I can’t say I’ve ever seen any band to that before, stay on stage after they’ve finished and chat with the audience, making sure each and every person knew how much their presence there was appreciated, as well as everything else they might have done for the band over the years. He also addressed the fact that they only played the first three songs from the new album (the three that are instant classics, in my opinion). He stated that the next time they hit Dallas they’ll have more worked in. “…We’ll work our way down…” he said, stating that this was the most diverse album they’ve ever put out, which is certainly true.
Granted, I’m still a very new fan of The Polyphonic Spree, having first seen them at the Homegrown music festival this past May, yet this was already the third time I’ve seen them. I mention that because while I may not have much authority to say this, I still confident in saying this was the best performance The Polyphonic Spree has ever given Dallas, and may well even be one of the best of the bands thirteen year career.
The difference I noticed from those two previous area shows I’ve seen was how much tighter they were this night. They’ve been touring a lot lately (like those gigs in the UK), and playing more consistently has resulted in them really solidifying, to the point all the twenty of the members made what they were doing look near effortless, as if it were second nature to them.
They were in rare form, and they made sure this CD release was exactly what any CD release show should be, and that’s an extravaganza. There was never a dull moment and just the way they all handled themselves on stage ensured this performance would be etched into the minds of everyone who saw it for a very, very long time. It was utter perfection by The Polyphonic Spree, even a step above their already high standard.
You can find all of The Polyphonic Sprees’ music in iTUNES, and they are currently touring heavily in support of this new album. August 15th at Neumos in Seattle, WA, the 16th at The Venue in Vancouver, Canada, the 17th in Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom, the 19th at The Chapel in San Francisco, CA, the 20th in Santa Ana, CA at Observatory, the 22nd in Los Angeles, CA at the El Rey, the 23rd at The House of Blues in San Diego, CA, the 26th at Club Congress in Tucson, AZ, the 27th at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ and the 29th at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, TX. They are also doing some one off shows, one at Bestival in Isle of Wight, UK on September 7th, while the other is an Austin, TX date on November sometime in early November as part of Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Once the band exited, so did everyone else, filing out of the show room, a smile on their face and likely in a happier mood then they entered in with, but still disappointed the show at to end in the first place. But as Tim said at the end, “…There’s always next time…”, and I have a feeling next time can’t come soon enough for the residents of North Texas.
Evidently, this was the night of CD release shows, because there four going on across Dallas and Fort Worth that I wanted to be at, but coming in at the top of my must see list was the one at Three Links. Descender and Here Holy Spain had teamed up for a split record (literally, a vinyl record), and this night they were ready to release their newest creation upon the world.
The show was getting an early start, an even though the advertised time was nine o’clock, it wound up being a few minutes before, because when I arrived the openers Here Holy Spain had already blazed through their opener, and where now at the start of song two, “New Bones to Break”. I don’t even remember the last time I had seen them live, and I had forgotten how amazing they were, though that spark was quickly rekindled and the further they got into the song, the more that spark grew. Rhythm guitarist and singer Wes Todd wailed on the majority of the lyrics, like the second verse, “…I only wanted to love you, I never wanted to hide …”.
They’re masters of the segue, and after finishing his final guitar notes, Wes fired up another track from the “Division” album, “Sick Again”, though it didn’t really take off until fellow guitarist Ben Piche, bassist Erica Guagliardi and drummer Scott Brayfield joined in. After that charged number, Wes again led them into the next song, a new one. Not “new” from the album they were releasing this night, even newer than that. It was one of I believe two new songs they performed this night, and it was amazing. As phenomenal as the “Division” LP was/is, as great as this new is, with a lot of growth evident in the songs, this new one seemed solid proof that the best of Here Holy Spain lies ahead.
Afterwards came a guitar change for both Ben and Wes, but there was no awkward pause like some bands have. Instead, Scott started a steady, solid beat while he and Erica waited on their band mates. So, with the beat already in place, everyone eventually jumped right into the last oldie they had for everyone, “Can’t Control”, and upon finishing it, they finally got into the material from the album this show was celebrating, “Under the Undertow”.
Again things fell to Scott to transition them to the next song, and while he was supplying the beats, you could tell Wes was carefully waiting for his mark on “Drive Out West”, hitting it precisely as he started tearing it up on his axe. “Golden Gun” was a highlight of night, combining all the elements that make Here Holy Spain so captivating, from catchy, often assertive notes, to Wes’s aggressive singing style, backed up by a nice performance from the band, with Ben and Erica thrashing about. They then gave everyone another taste at what their next record may sound like, before finally getting into what’s typically standard comic relief at their shows.
It began with Wes informing everyone they could get the record at the merch table out on the patio, where they also had other items for sale, including koozies. “…They say Beer Holy Spain on them…” he said, crediting Erica for the idea. “Did I?” she asked, not recalling it, though Wes assured her she did. Things then took a serious turn when Wes setup the next to last song of their show, noting it was about two deceased friends. Specifically those friends were Frankie “Frankie 45” Campagna and Ace McNeely, both of whom passed away in the last few years. He talked about them for a minute, pondering what they’d be doing if they were here now, before they got to the song, titled “Even the Bright Ones Burn Out”. It’s not a somber song by any means, though it is a poignant one.
Their set had seemed to pass by all too quickly, and to cap it off they did the lead track from “Under the Undertow”, “Way Out One in Five”, serving as a fitting end to this intense show, which wound up being one of the best Here Holy Spain shows I remember seeing in awhile.
They were on fire this night, as they rushed through their barrage of rock tunes, which are heavily laced with punk characteristics, doing a nice array in their fairly lengthy set (counting the song I missed it probably clocked in close to 35-minutes).
If you want to see a band that’s very high-energy with songs that you can really get into, Here Holy Spain’s a band to see. As I said at the start, I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them live, but after this set, I’ll definitely (hopefully) be in attendance at their next gig. Speaking of which, this one was the last one on the books for a while, but check on their page from time to time and they’ll surely be doing something in the next few months. In the meantime, you can find “Under the Undertow” (as well as their first two LP’s) in iTUNES.
Here Holy Spain got the night off to an excellent start, but things were only going to get better once Descender took the stage.
As many bands typically do at CD release shows, Descender ran through the new “Slow and Gold” EP in order (with some other songs thrown in), and that meant opening with “Silver Lightning”. The track is incredibly fast paced as far as Descender songs go, a quality that made it a superb opener, the quick, heavy drumbeats from Duncan Black and Zack Busby’s strong bass riffs ensuring everyone was instantly caught up in it all. Afterwards, things went back to typical Descender with “The Language”, and by typical I mean thick rock music with a bit of a dark quality to it, being focused on both the forceful rhythm section, as well as the at times roaring guitars. Jeff Gruber threw down while cranking out his parts, and one of the highlights was when singer and rhythm guitarist Casey Hess had his brief, though killer guitar solo.
Before the next song, Casey mentioned it was a friend’s birthday, dedicating the next song to her. “…It’s an old one.” was the vague statement he gave. Old, indeed. It was a throwback to Casey’s old band, Doosu, arguably one of the most iconic Dallas bands in recent history, who enjoyed a strong run from the early 90’s to the early 2000’s. The song itself was the lead track from the “Quick Bionic Arms” EP, “Arrow”, and once all the long time fans in attendance realized what it was, things reached a fever pitch. For many, that was no doubt the highlight of the night, surely bringing back very fond memories of days gone by, and while Doosu ended a few years before I got into the local music scene, it was cool to hear that oldie dusted off, and it sounded awesome.
They got back to their material with “Spinning On the Surface”, following with the final two songs from the EP, done back-to-back. That meant Zack started the ominous bass lines of “Slow and Gold” immediately after that last song, Duncan accompanying them perfectly with some low beats. “I want you to take to the streets now, wearing my sweat foot to chin…” sang Casey, the opening line of what is quite possibly the most mesmerizing song Descender has written, and live, it’s one of their best. They capped off the record with “I Will Help You Find the Darkness”, but they weren’t quite done yet.
“This is the first song we ever wrote. It’s about your fucking heart.” Casey passionately remarked. He was referring to the title track of their first EP, “Army Of Elephants”, which was the only old track they were able to fit into this 39-minute long set. Near the end, Jeff motioned for Wes Todd of Here Holy Spain to join them, and he gladly hopped on stage, taking over Jeffs’ duties of backing vocalist, and he and Casey were in such perfect synch, you would have thought they had done this hundreds of times.
I expected that to be it, because usually it is, though they had one last trick up their sleeve. But first, Casey shouted out the two remaining bands, Bobgoblin and the Denton based Brutal Juice. “…Remember when Denton had balls.” He said to the audience, somewhat meaning they don’t make bands like Brutal Juice anymore. He then set up their final number with, “…It’s a Black Sabbath song.” This made for the 30th Descender show I’ve seen, and I can’t say I’ve ever heard these guys do a cover (and I mean something besides that Doosu song, which may technically be a cover, but it’s still one Casey wrote), yet now they were about to. The song was “Supernaut”, and it was the most electrifying song of their set, not only that, but they put their own spin on it, and it was a glorious way to conclude things.
CD release shows are supposed to be something special, and Descender succeeded in making this the most memorable one of theirs to date. Honestly, how often are they going to do either of those covers again? It could happen, yes, though it’s highly unlikely. But besides that, they were just in rare form this night, and even for them this show was a notch above the rest.
There’s a reason why all four of these guys are long standing fixtures of the Dallas music scene, and there’s a reason why they’re still continuing to create and release music. Just give ‘em a listen and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
You can find all three of their EP’s in iTUNES (and THIS link for the new EP), each one priced very cheaply. And while I’m not aware of any current shows, they’ll surely be playing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area again sometime in the next few months.
As mentioned, Bobgoblin and Brutal Juice were the next two bands, and while some may consider it sacrilege, I didn’t stay for them. Like I said, there were four CD releases shows I wanted to be at this night, and while I couldn’t make all of them, I could at least catch another one. So, after picking up the vinyl album of both bands EP’s, I headed out to another venue.
For the past several weeks (probably longer), I’d been sticking to my traditional concert going habits of seeing bands I’m all too familiar with. Sure, I’ve seen some bands I don’t often catch, too, (even stumbled across some ones that were new to me in the process), but it had been some time since I caught a concert with bands that I had either never seen or rarely see.
It was time to change that this night at The Prophet Bar, were some acts I seldom see were gracing the stage.
First up was Vinyl, formed about a year ago, partly by two no ex-members of Trebuchet, back when that band was on an extended hiatus. Some readers may recall that Trebuchet was one of my favorite bands to see, but me making it to a Vinyl show had never worked out, until this night…
They opened their 32-minute long set with “Trucker”, setting the aura nicely with its more tranquil start. “Conversation’s better alone. ‘Old Resistance’ is driving home…” crooned singer and rhythm guitarist Justin Hawkins, and after that first verse ended was when the quartet erupted into their full rock glory, and never relented much after that. The last notes were still ringing out when Steve Phillips slammed down on his drum kit, segueing them into the next one, which happened to be an instrumental one. I’ve said this many times before, but I’m not a real fan of anything instrumental. At least not typically. It was a killer song, and personally, I liked the music bed for it more than any other song they did this night. Something about it just really grabbed me. Aside from that, watching Justin and lead guitarist Dustin Fleming rock out on their guitars is always something to marvel at, as they do it so effortlessly and all in very fluid motions. You could also say somewhat of the same for Hunter Johnston, who rounded out the rhythm section on the bass.
The dialogue between songs was kept short since they didn’t have much time, and it was around this point that Justin first informed everyone of who they were and that they were from Denton, and then they continued with “Electric Sheep”. It covered the spectrum, from being dreamy at times, to Steve and Hunter truly being the backbone of the song as it became a rhythm powerhouse, and at times it was even more of a guitar rock song with some sweet riffs and even a nice solo.
A couple more songs followed, and the former of those two ended up being one of my favorites they did, while during the latter Hunter really let loose, playing his bass with a fury as he thrashed about center stage. Steve again bridged the songs together, and once that latter song was over he exploded on his kit, doing a brief drum solo as he set up one of their rawest tracks, “No Halo”. Upon finishing it they had one last offering for the crowd, and then their time was up.
In the end, I think it may have been a good thing it took me so long to see Vinyl, because they’ve had plenty of time to tighten up and become very cohesive with one another in the live environment.
All that showed this night, and they seemed both precise and calculated during their superb set. For me, I found their music slightly incorporated a few elements that made me love Trebuchet (i.e. different guitar licks, the clever lyrics and Justins’ voice), but Vinyl is certainly a different creature. Their songs are more powerful and explosive, so they’re definitely forging their own path.
Visit their OFFICIAL WEBSITE to listen to some music and see their upcoming show dates, and then go catch one. I know I’m going to have to start making their shows a little more frequently.
The main support slot this night went to the Dallas based Bethan, and with them came a dramatic change in musical style in comparison to the opening band.
The final track from the “Chapter 1:” EP, “I Have Nothing To Say”, started their set, and on it violinist Becki Howard often harmonized with front woman Jessi James Hall, their voices quite gorgeously, creating a very intoxicating vibe. They carried on with another song from their debut record, and Kevin Howard quickly left his keyboard to pick up his guitar for “Vague” as they continued their journey through their self-described alternative noir genre of music.
Afterwards, they cranked out one of their newer jams, and once it was over the usually quite Jessi stated she was “…Really happy to be playing…”, beaming as she said it. “I’m not just saying that.” she added, making clear she really was excited, prompting Becki to joke with her, saying something along the lines of, “You know, instead of just pretending to be [happy].”That banter soon gave way to another new number, and soon after came the more glum sounding “Bad Valentine”, though the harmonies that started on the second verse and lasted for the duration of the song seemed to brighten it ever so slightly.
Jessi then took more time out to address the sizable crowd, this time noting they were getting ready to record their first full-length record, saying that the next song was the first one they wrote for this upcoming album. “… It’s called In Our Paris.”, she said. Drummer Daniel T. Hall took up guitar duties for that song, adding some soft notes to it, while also still manning his drum kit and keeping a soft, steady beat on the hi-hat cymbal.
“I can’t take credit for this next one…” Jessi said as they launched into a cover of Tom Waits “All the World is Green”, doing an utterly beautiful rendition of it, then doing one last original song to wrap up their 36-minute long set.
Out of the few times I’ve seen them, this show definitely ends up ranking the best, and I could tell the experience they’ve gained over the last year (which was roughly when I saw them last) has had a beneficial impact on their live show. That’s to say they were more mature than I recalled, and for the most part their show had a nice flow to it.
What they play is different from the vast majority of stuff out there, requiring you to appreciate the subtle nuances of the music, while Jessi’s voices stands at the forefront of it all. And speaking of subtleties, I failed to mention bassist Jesse Hopkins, who was a little more tame, though laid the ever crucial groundwork for the rest of the music to go on.
If you want to hear something different and a little more outside the box than most music, give Bethan a listen. You can purchase their music either on iTUNES or BANDCAMP, and check their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates on future shows.
Closing out the night was another Dallas outfit, The Auxiliary Voice. I’m thinking it had been about three years (give or take a few months) since I last saw the band, so I obviously recalled very little about them, aside from remembering I liked their music.
They brought their own lights with them, rather simple, yet crucial in setting the ambiance as the house lights went out, while those filled the room with a bright white light as an intro track began to play. Soon, lead guitarist Tony Webb walked on stage and proceeded to lightly pluck the strings of his axe. Moments later he was joined by singer and rhythm guitarist Matthew Hittle, and the two set up their ambient rock sounds. The remaining members, bassist Justin Young and drummer E.J., as well as keyboard player Kristin Leigh eventually made their way on stage, too, enriching their sound.
The thing that made their show so spectacular was the flow they gave it, and now wound things directly into their next song, where the keys were a little more audible, as was Kristins’ voice, and she added a little more backing vocals on that track. It was followed by more of a slower, eerie tune, and for awhile featured no bass whatsoever, resulting in Justin moving has bass behind him as he stood there, waiting for his mark. It was balanced out by a more serene number, and with their 33-minute long set nearing the end, they unleashed a couple of instrumental tracks, with another song (which was partly instrumental) sandwiched in between.
Matthew then thanked everyone for sticking around. “I know it’s late.” he said, even though it wasn’t even quite 1AM. And, as fans in the packed Prophet Bar screamed for more, the band retreated back to the green room area. Evidently, they have a very dedicated fan base, as they should, considering the band really doesn’t play all that often.
As for their show, like I said, I remember very little from my previous encounters with them, but I feel confident in saying the difference from a few years ago to now is like night and day. They were so well polished, in terms of both musicianship and showmanship, delivering everything perfectly. Frankly, I’m really not even a big fan ambient/experimental rock like they play, but the Auxiliary Voices’ stuff is truly mesmerizing, playing out so beautifully, even giving the impression that each song tells a piece of a much larger story.
They don’t have any shows coming up (that I’m aware of, at least), nor do they have a record (yet), but stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for updates on both fronts, and if you get the chance to see them, take it. I know I’ll start trying seeing their shows a little more frequently from now on.
It was a killer night all around, and I enjoyed the smorgasbord of sound (my apologies for the rhyme, by no means was that intentional), from rock, to alternative noir to ambient. Those various styles from each band meshed together surprisingly well, and it was fun seeing some acts I don’t often witness firsthand.
What better way to cap off a busy weekend of concert going then with a show at the Doublewide in Dallas, and what better band to see than the St. Louis based Kentucky Knife Fight.
Yes, nearly six months after their last stop in Dallas, the quintet was again on tour and stopping by what has really become their home away from home, and not only do I mean the city of Dallas, but also the Doublewide itself.
They were sandwiched between a couple of local Dallas groups, and the first act on stage this night was The Drama Queens.
The newer group (according to their Facebook page they’ve only been around about six months) only gave the crowd a small taste of what they were like, with their set clocking in at 20-minutes, during which time they only played four songs.
I wasn’t too keen on them at first, though their opening number slowly grew on me, and by the time they reached their next song, “Old Love”, I was feeling it a little more. “…This song’s about old loves…” said singer and guitarist Jason Burt, adding, “We all got ‘em.” Things continued to get better with their next song, which Jason acknowledged was written by a friend of his, who happened to be in the audience. He also pointed out they had changed it up some. “…Not because your version wasn’t the best…” he told his friend, “But because I couldn’t do it as good as you can.” It was a really catchy number, and the guy who wrote it even joined them on stage to do a little singing, as well as some picking on the guitar, making it all the more memorable. I believe it was also on that song that guitarist Justin Yantz played either a lap steel guitar or a pedal steel (from where I stood I couldn’t actually see, though caught a glimpse of the instrument when it was brought off stage.) giving it a nice sound. And I felt their final track of the night was the best yet.
Upon finishing it and announcing they were done, the sound guy informed them they had time for one more and Jason answered him, saying that was all they had prepared.
Their music channeled a bit of a classic rock sound, complete with keys, courtesy of Daniel Creamer, and there was even another musician who did some back up singing from time to time and shook a tambourine. Maybe you’ll like it from the get go, or perhaps you’ll be more like me and it will take a bit to warm up to the band, but in the end, you probably will end up liking their stuff.
Kentucky Knife Fight was next, and for me, they were whom this night was about. Actually, I think a lot of people felt the same, because they had the Doublewide pretty packed, which is an accomplishment on any night, let alone a Sunday night. The last time they came through down, they brought with them a large amount of new material, and many of those songs I quickly fell in love with, so, now that their latest record “Hush Hush” was out, I was looking forward to hearing those songs again, and better yet actually knowing them.
At 10:59, they were ready to roll, and James Baker got them going with a drum roll on his snare, while the guitars and bass filed in soon after. As they started that, front man Jason Holler closed his eyes, completely immersing himself in the music while he waited for his mark, which was mere seconds away. “Been up for days at the Tic Toc Inn, with some old habits and some new found friends…” he sang, the opening line for “Bad Blood”, in his somewhat gravelly, somewhat nasally sounding voice, two characteristics that make him one of the most recognizable singers you’ll ever come across. It could have been easy to keep your eyes glued on him during that short song, but the blaring guitar notes that Curt Brewer and Nate Jones were cranking out couldn’t be overlooked, nor could their high energy performance. In fact, Nate could often be seen dropping to one knee during that song, then springing back up as he constantly moved around his little portion of the stage.
They may be an alternative country band, but the songs from “Hush Hush” really blur the lines between that and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and “Bad Blood” is a prime example of that. And luckily, this night they drew heavily on that newest album of theirs.
Their other records didn’t go overlooked, though, and once that first song was over, Curt swapped out to his banjo, while Holler pulled out his harmonica, grabbing his bullet mic and playing it into that. That was a pleasant surprise, because I wasn’t expecting “Dream So Sweet”, one of my favorite tracks from 2010’s “We’re All Nameless Here” album, and it gave me hope that they might do a personal favorite of mine later in the show.
They switched back to rock mode after that, Curt going back to his guitar, and Holler again reached for his bullet microphone, now draping it around his neck. Bassist Jason Koenig then launched them into one of the instant classics from “Hush Hush”, “Misshapen Love”. Curt bounced around while shredding on his axe, having a style that’s truly all his own, while James and Koenig created the dynamic rhythm section, complimenting each other even a little more on that number than they do on some of their other material. All the while their throng of fans was singing along, particularly near the end, when Holler repeated the first verse, this time into the bullet mic. “Why you wanna go and wreck my life? Why you wanna go and bleed me dry?…”
Afterwards, they pulled out another old gem, and it was the one I was hoping to hear more than anything else this night, “Always A Bribe, Never A Bride”. The song’s absolutely intoxicating, from the sheer catchiness of it, to the elements you’ll only hear on the live version, like when Holler Curt and Nate harmonized on the second chorus, the music briefly subsiding, making sure the harmonies packed a punch. While they have some fun with the final line, with Holler singing one part, like, “…Every man…”, then pausing for a few seconds before delivering the next part, “Every woman…” then keeping the crowd on their toes as they await the final bit, “Eve-ry breath.” The most remarkable thing, though, was how coordinated they all were, playing right when Holler would open his mouth, and there were no real cues to signal them, at least not that I saw. Goes to show what shape you’ll be in after near constant touring, I guess.
They weren’t quite done with the older stuff yet, but when addressing the crowd Holler noted they were going to do another new song, “Father”, which spins a captivating tale revolving around crime. It’s also a song that pushes Holler as a vocalist, showing off his true prowess as a singer. The final lines, “Walking for the door gonna see if you really mean it. When you say you’re not afraid to spread my brains across the ceiling. Officer there’s no stopping what’s lurking in the weeds this season. There’s so much evil unborn in this world for no rhyme or reason.”, are repeated several times over, without a single break in between sentences, forcing him to strategically reload his lungs, and do so while still going about singing. If you listen to the recorded version, it sounds exactly like that live, and unless you’ve witnessed it first hand, you can’t truly grasp the effort that goes into that song, and it’s something you’ll marvel at.
Next, they offered up their final classic of the night, “Herschel Walker”, which comes from their 2007 debut “The Wolf Crept, The Children Slept”. Many of their fans just soaked in the new stuff, but this one of the few songs that had nearly everyone passionately belting out the lyrics, jumping about, and just having an all around good time.
They had been hurrying through their set thus far, but now took more of a time out, and Holler stated how good it felt to be back in Dallas, and Texas for that matter. “…I can drink Lone Star beer again. That’s always a good day…” he said. By that time, his band mates were ready to continue, Curt again wielding his banjo (for the final time this night) as they got “Paper Flowers Two” going. Then came the title track, “Hush Hush”, which James got going with some powerful beats, and “Love the Lonely” seemed a nice contrast to that rocking number, still allowing some fiery riffs from the guitarists, though also incorporating a low end and deadly rhythm section.
With that, sadly their stint in Dallas had reached the end, though they had one last song to close out their 42-minute long set, and that was “Gunsmoke”. Curts’ opening riffs elicit a real Western sound from the old movies and TV shows, setting the beast of a song apart from their other stuff. It wound up being an excellent last song, ending on the same high-octane note they had started with, Holler snarling on the chorus, “…I wanna leave in the morning while my heart’s still pumping and I still have something to prove to you…”
Kentucky Knife Fight is never the same band, and each time they come through town the several dozen hours they’ve collectively spent on stages across the country shows on them, and such was the case this night. They were so much tighter, nothing short of a well-oiled machine, proving that as far as touring bands go (and yes, I do mean even big name national touring acts), you’ll be incredibly hard pressed to find ones on the same level as KKF.
Each of the members brings an insane amount of talent to the table, and as a working unit they are an undeniable force, which ensures you’ll be transfixed on them.
As far as their new stuff goes, it’s unquestionably the most powerful music the band has made to date, and I was very happy that they played every single song I wanted to hear this night. You can find “Hush Hush” on iTUNES, along with their other albums, so do check them out. As for shows, this tour has pretty much wrapped up, but they do have a few gigs scattered about the Midwest in the month of August and they’ll be playing (mainly) around their home state of Missouri in September, too, so visit their TOUR PAGE for dates and cities.
Closing out the night was a band by the name of The Trophy Wives, which was a super group of sorts, featuring most of the members of one of Dallas’s best alternative country bands, Somebody’s Darling. That is to say that David Ponder and Wade Cofer were the guitarists, while Nate Wedan and Michael Talley completed the rhythm section, on drums and bass, respectively, with Alexis Sanchez handling the singing as well as an additional guitar, and completing the band was keyboardist Daniel Creamer.
They started with what Alexis pointed out was one of their only original songs they did, with the majority of their material being covers. They mined more of the blues genre, with a bit of soul and rock thrown in, and while long (it lasted seven to eight minutes), it was a really good song. I stuck around through the next one, which I believe was a cover of a Jimmy Reed song, but decided to bail after that.
The reason was partly because blues isn’t my thing, even though the guys pull it off very, and it was also due to the fact that being out until two in the AM the previous two nights was starting to catch up to me, and I didn’t want to do it again.
Nonetheless, if you do like blues music, go check out The Trophy Wives sometime when they’re doing a show. They’re a super talented group and one you’ll surely like.
Overall, it was a fantastic bill this night, but there’s no denying that the majority of the people there came to see Kentucky Knife Fight. Which makes me think it won’t be too much longer before these guys work their way up to headlining gigs when they come through town. It’s just a matter of time.
There were some big things going down at the Curtain Club this night, specifically, not one, but two CD release shows.
Yes, in a pretty rare event two bands who were releasing new albums ended up on the same bill, and even better yet, both had even performed at the Broadcasting for Boobies benefit concert WhiskeyBoy Radio orchestrated last year. Since that I’ve personally felt like I owed both bands, which were Triple SP and Enamored, and catching a show that’s such a milestone for each of them seemed like the perfect way to finally repay them.
Triple SP was up first, and due to traffic, I was cutting it pretty close, but got there with just a few minutes to spare before the Fort Worth based band began.
Some wicked guitar lines with a slight hint of feedback got things going, Bryan Motleys’ fingers moving swiftly and gracefully over his guitars strings as they ripped into “My Someday”. The primarily instrumental song no doubt came to life once singer and fellow guitarist Derek Procter, along with Brian Scheid and Jacob Bobo, the bass player and drummer, respectively, joined the mix, as the quartet rocked out in a very tight manner. That track is part of five-song concept story arc they put on this new album “Disrupting the Harmony”, and those five songs mesh together pretty fluidly. So, as soon as it ended Brian welcomed everyone to the show, thanking them for coming out, and then announced the subsequent track on the record that his band mates had already bled the music into. “…This is Definition of Insanity!” he shouted. He even did about half of the singing on that track, with Derek handling the first verse, while Brian yelled/sang the second.
Granted, they were only two songs in, but thus far their set had a killer flow, one that was disrupted at this point when Jacob asked if he could borrow a kick pedal from one of the other bands. “…The spring broke…” he stated. That took a couple of minutes, and while it was an inconvenience, stuff like that happens, and it didn’t throw them off their game for the rest of the night.
One of the other bands did come to their rescue, and once they had that other pedal Derek started them into one of the handful of fan favorite songs from their “Transmissions” album, “Behind Your Back”. Something that was new to me on this song was the three part harmonies they incorporated on the chorus, with both Bryan and Brian singing along with Derek. “…Things that you say never mattered anyway…” the trio sang, sounding downright incredibly, and Derek also owned his guitar solo during the song.
Jacob, who is a newer addition to the outfit, wound them right into their next song, which was “State of Mind”, and during it showed really off some of his chops by tossing one of his drumsticks in the air at the end of the first chorus, doing it in a very clean, fluid motion. Derek ditched his guitar for their next couple of songs, and with some heavy low end bass riffs Brian brought them into one of the instant classics from their new record, “You Can Be Anyone”, which sends a bit of an inspiring message. “…You can be anyone you want. You can be anyone you need…” Derek sings repeatedly during the song, and as he did so this night he took advantage of not being stationed in front of the mic, moving all about the stage and acted very comfortable as just a front man.
They kept that format for another killer rock number, “Lost”, then Derek picked his guitar back up as they kicked things up a few notches with “I Want it All”. Their momentum may have been interrupted early on, but there was no denying they were on fire at this point, and next Brain enticed the audience by telling them they were going to do another “fan favorite” from their first record. That fan favorite was “The Outsider”. Afterwards, they cranked out another track from the new album, “Alone”, and I found it interesting that over the last few new songs they had been working their way up (“You Can Be Anyone” is track five, while “Alone” is two, so you get the gist.) And now, with time enough for one last song, it was clear what it was going to be. Brian was the one who segued them into it by saying, “…As the Beastie Boys used to say, this is the first song off our brand new album!” he roared excitedly before they tore into “Symptom”, which capped off their 38–minute long set, in epic fashion I might add.
They brought their A game for this show, that was obvious, and that resulted in this being the best of the now three Triple SP shows that I’ve seen. I loved the fact that they bridged so many of the songs together, even if they did have a little hiccup near the start; it still gave things an excellent flow.
It was a superb show, and showed great musicianship, which is really kinda rounded out by Jacob Bobo. I hadn’t seen the band since he joined the fold, but he helps push things to another level. And as much as I don’t like saying it, because I was a fan of previous drummer Alex Lanz (it’s worth noting he put in all the drum work for this record), Jacob seems to be the missing component the band probably didn’t even know was missing (or at least not for awhile).
They’re a great band who, frankly, is a bit underrated here in the scene. I say that because they mainly play in Fort Worth, and their Dallas shows are a bit rare, and while they have a very dedicated fan base, which is the most important thing, it isn’t as big as it could be. Sure, that’s stuff nearly every local band struggles with, but hopefully the show this night and the new record will start to turn the tides for Triple SP.
Regarding “Disrupting the Harmony”, you can pick it up, along with their old record, in iTUNES. By all means do, because it’s fantastic. They also have a few shows lined up over the next several months, and they’ll be back in Dallas on July 26th at The Boiler Room. On August 17th they’ll be at Tomcats West and then in October, on the 26th, they’ll return to Tomcats, while in between that, on September 21st, they’ll rock The Grotto in Fort Worth.
As soon as they finished I headed over to the adjacent Liquid Lounge to see what was going on over there, and came across singer/songwriter Caroline Murphy.
I don’t mean this nearly as negative as it might sound, but she was wasn’t the best singer I’ve heard. Don’t get me wrong, she had a good voice, good enough to captivate you, but, at least for me, it was the songwriting that made sure I stayed there for the remainder of her show.
She was probably about halfway through her set, singing a song about briefly meeting a fellow student in preschool, then running into him again years later, in rehab of all places. It quickly became apparent she was the type of songwriter who delved into her personal life and didn’t mind people knowing about her life experiences, and that was what I enjoyed.
“Hurricane” was a real stand out from her set, and the song about how quickly things can change (specifically in a relationship) had a great chorus, “…Nobody knows how much the wind can blow away. I mean, in a single day…” “The Dishes Song” was another intriguing number, and it was followed by another track I thoroughly enjoyed, which she said was titled “Maria”, then added, “Or maybe Excited and Sad I’m not sure, yet…” That seemed to indicate it was a newer song, and a great one at that.
She ran through a few more songs, and the one she closed with excellent, so it was a bit of a surprise when she finished it she said, “I have never played that live before. I mean, that just all came to me right now. Weird…” She sure didn’t act like she was creating that song on the spot and it seemed that, like her other material, she had played it many times over.
I thought she was great, and as I touched on earlier, she doesn’t have a voice that will make your jaw hit the floor, but she can sing very well, and she knows how to pen some great, honest songs. If you get the chance to, check her out live, at least once.
Afterwards, I crossed the patio back to the Curtain Club where Redline on stage.
I regret not getting back there sooner so I could have seen their full set, cause these younger guys (all were under twenty-one, because they bore a “B” on their hands to signify they were playing that night, rather than the traditional “X” all other minors receive) were rocking the place.
They covered a few different categories, doing some softer rock stuff, in the vein of ballads, to some pretty intense rock songs. It was a great show (at least what I saw) and bassist Austin Adams, guitarist Joseph Campise, drummer Nathaniel Williams and vocalist Joe Rodriguez were working it and making sure the crowd of onlookers was drawn in.
I plan on seeing them again sometime, and in the near future you should be able to buy some music from them, because they announced this night that they would be recording a record in July.
After they finished, the festivities of this duel CD release show were set to continue as Enamored took the stage.
They got right down to it, opening their 35-minute long set with the lead track from the “Requiem” EP, “Empty”. Mind you it had been nearly a year since the only time I had seen them live, and it was immediately apparent how much they’ve grown in that time. Most notable was front woman Jules, whose voice was even more powerful than before as she belted out the chorus, “I’ve waited all my life for you, just to stand by your side…” It was a magnetizing track that pulled everyone who was there to see the band up towards the stage, and probably even a few others who weren’t there for them.
“Suck my dick!” Jules shouted during the second pause after that song before their new drummer Thomas Stewart, and guitarist and bass player, Aaron Heles and Robert Albritto, respectively, fired up the subsequent song from their EP, the more intense rock song, “Release”. There was no questioning that they were already on fire, and upon finishing that song they took a little timeout as Jules spoke to the audience, thanking everyone for coming out among other things, and saying she didn’t care what tallies at the door said regarding how many people they drew. “…It ain’t about the money, it’s about the love…” she said. I don’t think you’re going to find many musicians that will say that, truly not seeming to care about the ever important draw of fans you pulled, but that’s true in a way, and they were definitely getting the love this night.
When they got back to it, Aaron started the catchy chord progression that is heard throughout “Bring Down”, which is one of their best songs, and my personal favorite. They took another pause and Jules thanked all the drummers that had helped her out along the way, noting that a few were out in the crowd. She also of course shouting out Nick Sarabia of Red Angel Theory, who has not only helped them out with live gigs in the past, but also aided them on the recording of this record. She continued chatting with everyone and talk turned to what she was drinking. “…I’m Jules and I’m an alcoholic.” She said, then tacked on, “Oh shit, is this not anonymous?!”
All of that made for some humorous moments this night, and I thought it was nice to get a little glimpse of the actual person they are (or rather she is) rather than just the performer side of her character. Soon, they busted out another short track, “Better Off Alone”, which is one you won’t find on the EP, and once it was done the shout outs continued, this time by thanking all the band members who were out supporting them, which included (but certainly not limited to) The Circle and Solice. Jules went on to thank them (Solice) for the drink they had gotten her, saying she’d be out at their show here the following week, buying them drinks, “…And you better drink whatever shit I give you…” she said and laughed.
She wasn’t finished talking, though Aaron and Thomas cut her off by starting their next song. After all, they did only have a limited amount of time up here. They ran through the albums closing track, “Escape”, and then slowed things down a bit with “Free”, which is still a pretty mighty song. “Slaves and Toys” seemed like it might be the final song of their show, but they had one more song left over from their EP. That was “Never Again”, it brought their show to a perfect close.
They were phenomenal, and I was really amazed at how much they’ve tightened up in the last year. Both Aaron and Robert had a good bit of swagger as they moved about the stage, owning it on their respective instruments, and Thomas was an excellent fit with them, tearing it up on the drums. You never would guessed that this was one of the first (if not the first) live gig he’s done with them. And while I talked about Jules earlier, I’ll say it again, she has a powerhouse voice.
They left everything on stage this night, there’s no doubt about that.
You can find “Requiem” in iTUNES, and you should definitely check it out. As for their upcoming shows, they’ll be at The Boiler Room in Dallas on July 12th, otherwise, just keep tabs on their FACEBOOK PAGE so you’ll know when and where they’re playing next.
There were a couple bands left at this point, and next up was a Dallas based band I was unfamiliar with, called Manny the Martyr. With a name like that I didn’t know what to expect, and wasn’t sure if I’d be sticking around through their set or calling it an early night (it wound up being the former.)
I was expecting something similar to the other bands on this bill, rock to harder rock, so it was a bit of a surprise when they broke into the lead track from their “Aqua Lounge” EP, “Brighter Sun”, a song that, much like their other songs, encompassed elements of reggae, and funk, with even a bit of ska. Yeah, it was an eclectic mix, and it worked well for them, drawing their sizable collection of fans towards the stage, and once Jake Cravens opened his mouth and began to sing, I knew I was going to like it. After all, when it comes to music the vocals are the most important thing in my opinion, and he had a killer voice.
“…This next song is called Aydagee” he said to the crowd, as they busted out a track that was even a better fit with the reggae genre. Jake spit the words out at a lightning pace in a tone that’s pretty authentic to that genre, while Joel Simka delivered some powerful beats from his drum kit, and guitarists Mike Ubben and Brad Green played some sweet riffs. Those are two slightly older songs of the bands, but they were eager to play some newer material this night, too, and next up did one titled “Too Soon”. Bassist Jayson Vaughn kind of stole the show during this one, repeatedly doing some high kicks as they got the song underway, alternating between which leg he was kicking in the air, all the while slapping away at his bass, and near the end of the song he repeated the kicking motion.
Following it was another new one, and one Jake made sure to point was brand new, as in, never having been played before. It was a catchy song with a great hook, and wound up being my personal favorite song they did this night. Breaking up the new music was another song from their album, “DDJ”, which was more rock/pop based then their other stuff, but in a good way, as it showed that they can be versatile. While cranking out that song, Joel suffered a little mishap, when either one of his drumsticks broke, or it slipped out of his hand (I missed it right when it happened.) He didn’t reach for a new one right away, though, instead he just used the one stick he still had to bang about the kit, and doing quite a good job at it.
They had two more new tracks for everybody, both of which had titles that got some laughs from the audience. The first was “Two Inch Hero”, while the other was “Leftover Sexy”, and despite the funny names, they were straight up great songs that incited everyone to just have a good time. “…Where are my smokers at?” Jake asked the crowd once they finished up that last song. “This song is just for you…” he said, setting up “Bougyman”, which the fans got to participate on a bit at one point, before closing out their 37-minute long set with the funky rock song, “Hit the Brink”.
These guys were fantastic, putting on a very fun, lively performance that was impossible not to get caught up in. They also managed to command the crowd quite well, and got everybody actively engaged in their show.
They made me a fan with their highly original sounding music, and I look forward to seeing them again.
During their set, Jake mentioned they would be back here at the Curtain in August, I believe the 30th was the exact date, to release their new album they will soon be recording. That will no doubt be a good show to see, and as of now it looks like it’s the only gig they have on the books. In the meantime, their current record, “The Aqua Lung”, can be downloaded for FREE simply by visiting their REVERBNATION PAGE. Take of advantage of that sweet deal.
There was one last band up this night, Blackout I believe was their name, but once Manny the Martyr finished I went ahead and left. It was late already and would have been nearly one before they went on stage, and I knew the following night here at the Curtain was going to be a long one, so I decided to cut this night short.