The Granada Theater was hosting a nice selection of local(ish) country talent on this cold, wet night, just one day after the venue celebrated its 9th birthday. Evidence of the party was still visible, with a “9” shaped balloon hanging on either side of the stage, and by night’s end, I don’t know if the venue could have asked for a better lineup of bands to kickoff the journey to the 10 year mark.
The Matt the Cat Trio was the first band up, and was already into their set a little bit by the time I arrived. The band is comprised of 3/5ths of local favorites Eleven Hundred Springs, and evidently the almost constant touring schedule that band keeps still left too much downtime for singer and guitarist Matt Hillyer, bassist Steve Berg and drummer Arjuna Contreras, seeing as they started this as a side-project.
For the most part, they are a cover band at the moment, putting their spin on several older classics in the 40-minutes that I saw, like Jimmy Lloyds’ “I Got a Rocket in My Pocket”. They made sure it retained that classic 50’s sound, though they did charge it up a bit, and Matts’ voice was pretty well suited for it, hitting the higher notes with ease. “…This a song by Ronnie Dawson.” Matt informed the crowd as they started into “Congratulations to Me”, soon following it with “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town)” by Bill Haley. Again, the faster drum beats Arjuna was knocking out helped bring a little modern taste to the song, while Steve kept pace with him, quickly plucking and slapping his upright bass.
“Let’s keep it swinging!” exclaimed Matt as they went right into an instrumental piece. It was a classic, one I recognized (and I’m sure everyone else would, too), though its title escapes me at the moment. It went almost unnoticed at first that Arjuna’s drumming grew louder, and then all of a sudden all eyes were on him, as he did one of his epic drum solos, proving you don’t need to have a massive drum kit to create a massive sound and get people’s attention.
Once they finished, Matt again addressed the audience, stating they didn’t have much original material written for this band yet. “…We’re just having fun, and we hope you are, too.” he told the little over thirty people who had made it out this early. He didn’t say they had no original music to play, though, and now did a song from a 7’’ record they put out, with the track being titled “When I Try to Be Cool”. If you’ve listened to their main band, than that song is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Matt as a writer, though the sound was more reminiscent of 50’s to 60’s era music, while he sang the more humorous song about trying to act cool to impress the ladies. “…’Cause I always end up looking a fool when I try to be cool.” he sang before the second verse, with the rest of the track being filled with equally as great lines.
They performed a couple more covers, one of which was James Browns’ “I’ll Go Crazy”, which Matt noted was their first time doing it live, before doing another original, “It’s Gonna Take Some Time”. As it ended, they kept things going with some feedback, Matt bending down by his amp and holding his guitar to it, winding them into their next and final song, another take on a well known instrumental song, which proved a good way to end the show.
The three bring the same level of musicianship and quality as they display in Eleven Hundred Springs, but the Matt the Cat Trio is far from being just a scaled down version of the band. Their style does differ greatly, and doesn’t have quite as much of a country/rock infused sound. Part of that may well be the fact that they did so many covers, but all the same, while there are still some country twangs to the songs, they’re closer to being like a rock band in the very early days of the genre.
Well worth checking out, and I’m curious to see (and hear) what lies ahead for them, as they start to write and work in more original music to their set.
You can purchase their two singles in iTUNES, and while they are done doing shows for this year, they’ll be starting off strong in 2014, with a bunch of dates already booked for January which can be found HERE.
Following them was one band I had not seen in some time. In fact, it had been long enough that the Whiskey Folk Ramblers had dropped the “Ramblers” from their name, now going by Whiskey Folk.
They had also released their newest record since the last time I saw them, “The Lonesome Underground”, though their show this night represented all three of the records they’ve released, and very nicely at that, as they opened with one of the newer ones, “Cross City Trade”. As soon as the screen that covers the stage began to retract, their drummer launched them into the quick, catchy song that gained the attention of much of the ever growing crowd.
“…We came here to make you dance…” singer and acoustic guitarist Tyler Rougeux told the audience, while they had already started in on the next song, which saw Cory Graves putting his trumpet down as he put his keyboard to use for the next few songs, which came from the bands 2008 debut record, “Midnight Drifter”. One of those was the short and sweet, “Goin’ Where I Don’t Know”, which could easily provoke some dancing from the listener, and they bled it seamlessly into “River Song”. “Sold my soul to the river one day, I went down there to pray…” Tyler sang at the start of the tune, which still manages to sound just as good as it always has, even without the banjo player, who departed some time back, and seemed to have an even stronger rhythm section. “This is a song about gun slinging.” Tyler said as they did “Graveyard Line”, during which bassist Jack Russell continued plucking the strings of his bass in a pretty fast manner, giving the song a nice backbone.
As Tyler put it, they had one more “dancing song coming right up”, and he added that it was one they wrote “way back in the day” and it was based on a cartoon. The song he was setting up was “Moanin’ Rag”. The little story telling continued as they did another new song, which Tyler said was about “catching rides home with strangers”, bringing them to the slightly dark sounding, “Mad Man’s Eyes”. That darker mood was kept up with “Into That Slide”, one of the many songs that falls into what has been described as being a sort of gypsy/horror rock sound, before Tyler rolled them into the next number, strumming his acoustic, before electric guitarist Mark Moncrieff and the rest of the band joined in on “Leavin’ Here”.
I must confess, I haven’t listened to their new record too much, and I failed to identify the next song the band did (as well as a few others this night), but after it came a fan favorite. “…It’s about an old woman who makes pies and gets colds… And had no PTO…” Tyler joked before starting the ever entertaining, “Pies of Old Kylene”. The focus of songs then shifted to “bad relationships”, which is the subject of “Drink the Bottle Dry”, and again had Cory using his keyboard.
I don’t know how much of a true storyteller aspect this show had, but all the same, I was thoroughly enjoying all the comments before most of the songs, and for their next one Tyler told everyone it was about the circus coming to town and “…making a homeless guy sing…” That led them to the lead track from “The Lonesome Underground”, “Oh, St. Jude”, and was quickly followed by a couple more songs presumably from the album.
Another instant classic that was featured on 2010’s “And There Are Devils…” came next, with the tale of the “Gambling Preacher and His Daughter”, before doing another track about “gun slinging”, Cory adding a little extra percussion to it by shaking a tambourine. After another song, they got ready to end their 59-minute long show with “Sweet Waters”, which in the past has served as the closer, before wrapping it all up with “Lights On the Highway”.
Perhaps the best thing about Whiskey Folk is how they keep managing to reinvent themselves to some extent, changing their style around just enough from album to album to be different from one another, while still retaining their core sound. With the array of songs they did this night, that was made clear, and while they didn’t all sound similar to one another, they managed to all mesh and work with one another, allowing you to hear their evolutionary process.
Aside from that, they are a very unique band, having crafted a sound unlike any other band, which isn’t too easy to do these days, and they put on an entertaining show to boot.
They have one last show lined up for the year, and it’ll be on December 31st at Club Dada in Dallas, and be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.
Headlining the venue this night was The Dirty River Boys, who were doing one last little run of shows for the year, sandwiching this Dallas show between gigs in El Paso and Austin, their hometown and the city where they now reside, respectively.
They hit the stage right at their scheduled start time of 10:20, having a brief intro track play before the screen was raised and the four guys made their way on stage.
“How you doing, Dallas?” asked Marco Gutierrez, one of the bands singers and acoustic guitarists, once he got in front of his mic on stage left. They promptly started what wound up being nothing short of an epic performance. It was Marco who handled the singing on their first song, “Train Station”, though fellow singer and acoustic guitarist Nino Cooper added some light background vocals at various points during the song. It gave it a beautiful underlying texture, and after that title track of one of their EP’s, Nino took the reins, as he and some his band mates harmonized for the first line of “My Son”, “I don’t know where you’re going my son, taught you to walk but you learned how to run…”.
That song has an extra to kick to it live from what you hear on the record, and the way they segued seamlessly from their first song to it helped give their show even more of a punch. They weren’t about ready to let up, either, going right into their next song, but first, drummer Travis Stearns (who plays a cajon he sits on and has a more minimal drum kit setup) spoke to the crowd, which no numbered a few hundred people, welcoming them to the show and (successfully) trying to get them excited. Marco then went back to singing as they did “Carnival Lights”, the lead track from their first EP. That gorgeously sad song is filled with great lines, like, “I saw her on a Sunday, I never saw her again, they say she’s fading away…”, and as it neared the end, it turned into a sing along, with those who knew it crooning along with Marco at the end, “These old carnival lights won’t let her eyes sleep tonight…”.
Travis bridged them right into their next number, where bassist Colton James got his first chance of the night to show off his full vocal chops, singing one of their new tunes, almost snarling on part of the chorus, “…Let me taste the blood.” It was more intense than some of their stuff, and Travis matched that by rocking out on his kit, forcefully striking his snare drum, performance wise showing up even the heaviest of metal drummers (not just on that song, but for much of the night).
They carried on with “Dried Up”, the first of several songs that drew from the “Science of Flight” record, and upon finishing it, Marco announced it was time for a “Chinese fire drill”. Nino was the only one who stayed in the same position, while Travis grabbed a mandolin and Colton a banjo, leaving Marco to play the upright bass. “ Lookin’ for the Heart” was the song they did in that format, which has more of a bluegrass sound than most of their other songs, and upon finishing it, while the band returned to their original instruments, Nino moved them onto the next track, another new one, as he gently plucked the strings on his guitar. “…If you’ve heard us on the radio recently, this was probably the song you heard…” Marco told everyone once he got back in front of his microphone and began playing the same chords as Nino. “Desert Wind” was one song Colton used a typical electric bass on, and that amazing new single brought with a certain aura. An aura very few songs have, but one that in listening to it you know you’re hearing something special, and it boasts a great music bed, and some wonderful lyrics that do indeed tell a story.
They kept the new songs coming with another one, Nino switching out to an electric guitar for it, before swapping out to the mandolin for, as Marco put it, “…A country song about punk rock…” Travis again stood up from his kit, excitedly chatting with the audience for a minute to pump them up, before asking for some more help in singing it, with “it” being “Boomtown”, and it got quite a few people excited, with some of the fans at the front of the stage jumping around while singing along to every word.
They may have been in Dallas, but their hometown of El Paso got a shout (or two) this night, with Marco noting how proud they were to be from the city, asking if anyone had heard of another band from there, The Lusitania, which led them to trying their hand at one of that bands tracks. Nino was back on his acoustic now, and they did an excellent cover of “’Til My Heart Gives Out (Mountain Song)”, which was definitely a country song, especially since part of the chorus was, “…How long ‘til my heart gives out and the drinks kick in?”.
“Are we having fun yet?!” Marco asked everyone, adding that they were going to be trying out some new stuff this night, but that wasn’t a lead in to another new track. Instead they did another from their LP, “Youngblood Blues”. That somewhat joyous song was followed with another new one, which required Colton to bring his electric bass back out, while he again sang lead on the song, though they all harmonized on part of the chorus, “…Now God knows that no one should be alone…” There was a certain degree of somberness to the song, balanced out with unrivaled beauty in the four-part harmonies that ensued at different times.
They slowed things down with the pretty, “Riverbed Wildflowers”, before offering another glimpse at what their new album will sound like. “Things are gonna get real weird…” Marco plainly stated before one song, which did sound like more of a departure from their previous stuff, but in the best possible way, simply because it did seem to be out of their comfort zone so to speak. Nino kept things going by setting up their next tune, another one that forced them to do some things different, and they again did their “Chinese fire drill”, knocking out another new number.
“Union Painter” was another song of theirs that told a legitimate story, and afterwards, while Nino thought they were going to take a break, his band mates surprised them by rolling things along. “I guess we’re gonna play some rock ‘n’ roll.” he remarked, joining them on Ryan Adams’ “Shakedown on 9th Street”, which they did a great rendition of, putting their own little mark on it. At one point during it, Travis took one of his drum sticks and hurled it high into the air, though he failed to catch it as it fell a little behind him, narrowly escaping his grasp. He didn’t seem to give it much thought, though, quickly grabbing another stick.
“Draw” got a very impressive intro, with the band getting progressively faster on their respective instruments, leading to Travis standing up from his cajon and he again tosses a stick into the air, catching it this time around, before they wound the instrumental segment into the actual song. They also added an extra touch to the end, Marco extending the final line as he held each word for a few seconds.
They were over an hour into things by now, and I was surprised they were still going, though at this point Colton and Travis left the stage, while Marco hid in the wings of stage left, leaving Nino to perform most of “So Long Elanie” solo. Marco did join in eventually, though, adding not only his guitar to the mix, but also some soft vocals. Once the full band was back on stage, they did one last new song for the night, and it was a special one. Not only did they write it with Ray Wylie Hubbard, it was also about their hometown, and Nino asked if anyone in the crowd was from El Paso. He reminisced about how at one time, you could travel into Mexico with no worries, saying as a teen he and countless others would walk across the bridge, get some beers, and come back before night. That’s something that can’t be done now with all the violence in the border towns, which was precisely what this track was about, and as it concluded, Travis again threw a stick up in the air, and yes, he caught it.
They still had some left to give, doing “Six Riders”, before all four of them wound up at the front of the stage, taking some shots that had been bought for them and bowing, thanking everyone for coming out. Travis noted that they had done one thousand plus shows in their four-year existence, and would be coming back strong in 2014 with their new record and a new sound. By that time, Nino had again armed himself with the mandolin, capping off their show with “Raise Some Hell”, which has a very authentic Irish sound to it, and (fittingly so) is a very rowdy number.
98-minutes. That’s how long they had been on stage, which is much longer than even some of the most well known bands play. It was nothing short of phenomenal, and I was amazed at how quickly the time had passed, ‘cause it really seemed like they had only just begun by the time it all ended.
An encore seemed improbable to me, after such a meaty show during which they had played just about everything they possible could have, but some of their fans weren’t ready for it to end, shouting for more.
At most they had been gone from the stage for a minute when Marco returned, getting his moment to do a song solo.
Their 14-minute long encore portion was kicked off with “Another Night”, and a little ways into it Nino returned to the stage, being followed by Colton and Travis shortly after as the song picked up steam. Once he had played his final notes, Nino went and swapped his acoustic guitar out for an electric, rocking out some sweet licks that had the fans cheering him as they bridged the tail end of that track into “She”. They tacked on something special to that already brilliant original song, though, and at one point, Nino took over on lead vocals, belting out part of the chorus of Jim Hendrixs’ “Voodoo Child”.
This wound up being quite the night, far surpassing the expectations I had, had for it. Really, what bands play for almost two hours? Especially ones that are still on more of the local to mid-level circuit of the game. That’s just about unheard of, and it was a nice surprise to be treated to a true, honest to god performance.
They commanded the audience’s attention with ease all throughout the night, the fun the four of them were clearly having on stage playing their music making it all the easier for the crowd to get into it all and have a good time. That helped contribute (hell, it practically made) the fun atmosphere for the night, which in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects a concert should have.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt either that all four of them are very capable singers with excellent voices, and skilled musicians.
They may be through doing shows for the year, but luckily there’s not much left of this year, so their 2014 resurgence isn’t that far off. But until then, you can of course find their music in iTUNES. Two EP’s, a full-length, and not too long ago “Desert Wind” became available as a single (seriously, you HAVE to listen to that one). Check ‘em out, buy their music, and get ready for their new record.
I’m not the biggest country music fan in general, but if you’re like me, then you just might think that the “mainstream country” music has devolved to the point it’s essentially glorified pop music that masquerades as so called country by talking about “pickup trucks” or other stereotypical things. It’s so much more than that, though, and all three of the bands on the bill this night know that. Sure, each one of them offered a different variation of the genre, but they’re still more country than what you’re likely to find on the radio.
The Granada Theater was hosting a nice selection of local(ish) country talent on this cold, wet night, just one day after the venue celebrated its 9th birthday. Evidence of the party was still visible, with a “9” shaped balloon hanging on either side of the stage, and by night’s end, I don’t know if the venue could have asked for a better lineup of bands to kickoff the journey to the 10 year mark.
It’s not too often I end up at the same venue two nights in a row, yet this night, I found myself back at Prophet Bar, for yet another round of touring acts.
The Limousines were responsible for getting me out on this Monday night, having seen them just barely over two years ago when they were on tour with The Sounds. They blew my mind then, and since that night, I had eagerly been awaiting their return to Dallas.
They were on tour with a couple of bands, and the one opening this show was Dresses, who were from Portland, Oregon.
I didn’t see much of them, as they had already started by the time I got there, though I enjoyed what I heard.
Every band on this bill was very different than the others, and Dresses was no exception, mining more of an indie/pop/rock sound, with the main members being frontwoman Timothy Heller and lead guitarist Jared Ryan Maldonado, who even played a ukulele for a few songs. While she was the lead vocalist, he also sang on some songs, and the two even harmonized at times, their voices blending to create some beautiful textures.
It was all well crafted, with more subtle tones at times that served to accentuate the vocals and even the lyrics to the songs.
I just wish I had gotten to see more of them and get a better idea of what they’re like, though I did enjoy what I saw.
They do have a record available, “Sun Shy”, which is actually their debut album. Give it a listen, and it may well make you a fan.
Sandwiched in between the opener and the headliner was San Francisco’s own The Limousines, who wound up having quite the following out this night, some of their fans rushing to the front of the stage as soon as Dresses left to ensure they had a good spot, all the while beaming with glee about seeing this electronic act.
They brought with them a pretty professional looking setup, from a couple of scrims (one on each side of the stage) that had multi-colored lights shining from behind them throughout the show. They also had a cool looking “case” that stood in front of the unused drum kit and had the band’s name on it, with the letters looking like all sorts of old runes. The letters on that were also illuminated, switching through the color spectrum.
Aside from aesthetics, they had also grown a member since I first saw them, now being a trio with the addition of a multi-instrumentalist who often played bass this night, but also dabbled on the keys/synthesizers and electronic drums.
Oh yeah, they also had a smoke machine, which frontman Eric Victorino triggered before walking backstage. In such a small venue, the fog got pretty dense as it billowed out, helping create a mood before multi-instrumentalist Giovanni Giusti, Eric and the bass player made their way on stage.
Their long awaited second LP, “Hush”, was released earlier this year after a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, and they got their show going with the lead track and first single from it, “Love is a Dog from Hell”. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into the song that laments love lost, moving about and even doing a little bit of dancing to the track. They were only just getting started as they immediately fired up “Undercover”, the bass during that song being so heavy at times you could feel the floor vibrating, which is always a sure sign of a great show.
It didn’t take long after the music subsided and the applause dies down for one female fan to shout at Eric, “Have my babies!” “I don’t have time for babies. I’m too busy.” he said, politely turning down her request, but it wasn’t the last time she would make it this night.
“Haunted” was the first of a few songs that saw Giovanni and the other guy heavily using their electronic drums, while Eric moved his mic stand out of the way on that one, giving him a little more freedom as he paced around more, and got pretty passionate at times. “I’m haunted, I’m haunted by you…” he belted out on the chorus, dropping to his knees at one point, packing that and many other lines from the song to the brim with emotion. That simply made it all the more enjoyable for the audience, and after finishing it, he had a question for everyone. “Does Dallas, Texas know how to dance?!” They proved they did on the incredibly catchy “Fool’s Gold”, which somehow managed to sound even better live, and was certainly more fun. Eric made an array of little movements with his hands during the first verse, conducting them to the music, while at one point during the song he instructed everyone to put their hands up. The fans listened, moving their fists up and down to the beat.
“Little Space” was definitely the most electronic sounding song they did this night, after which Giovanni and the other guy let up on the electronic drums, as he went back to his bass for the lively “Gimme Control”. “I’m sorry I declined your baby offer earlier…” Eric again told the girl from earlier, who was very into the show. “I’m just too busy. I am.” he said, looking at the bass player, who in turn was looking at Eric like that was just an excuse. The trio moved on with “The Last Dance”, which featured some real percussion as Giovanni periodically beat on a floor tom that set beside him, against the wall of stage left.
“…Tell me, how am I supposed to know, should I hold you, should I let you go? Let me know, I’ll let you go…” Eric sweetly sang on another gem and instant classic from the “Hush” album, “Bedbugs”, ending it as he crooned, “…I could lie and tell you we could still be friends…”
Everyone was saddened to hear Eric announce they had just one song left, but after a quick chat with Giovanni, they decided to do two. One of those songs was “Stranger”, and as they finished it, one girl let out a loud shriek of excitement. “I guess I am having your babies.” Eric said after pinpointing it was the same girl as before “She’s a shrieker.” he stated while laughing. As it stood, they had played the majority of “Hush”, and now, to end their 41-minute long set, they performed the title track. That song is something else in the live environment, and Eric was in top form while performing it, in complete control of the stage as well as the audience’s attention while he thrashed about on stage, then, in true rock star fashion, left the stage right after his final line.
Even after two years I still remember that first of theirs I saw pretty vividly, and the one this night at the Prophet Bar is another one that’ll live on in my mind for quite some time. And since they didn’t do anything from the “Get Sharp” album, it almost was like seeing them again for the first time this night.
Their showman for sure, and the three of them owned the stage this night as The Limousines. However, as amazing as Eric’s voice is (and it does sound even more remarkable live), and as mind blowing of a live show as they put on, one of the most surprising things to me is that is heavily as they rely on electronics and even backing tracks, none of it sounds synthetic. It’s all very real and has a clean, organic sound to it all.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and they do have one more show booked for the year in San Jose, CA at the Blacnk Club on December 20th.
They alone were worth coming out on this Monday night and the $15 price tag, but there was one more band after them, and they hailed from Nashville, TN.
I had listened to a little bit of Mona’s music just a few days before the show, and honestly, didn’t really get into it. There are plenty of bands, though, that end up being better live, and I figured I’d stick around for a few songs and give them a chance.
They played a decent amount of material from their self-titled record, beginning with “Listen to Your Love”. Whatever reason I had of not liking their music beforehand was quickly dispelled with that explosive number, which had pulled pretty much the entire crowd (of around 80+ people, not band for a Monday night) as close as they could get to the stage, watching in awe.
Well, I now knew I’d be sticking around until they finished.
The quartet killed some time as they dealt with the drummer, Vince Gard’s monitor, which wound up not being turned on. “…That means he played that song like a badass!” said singer and rhythm guitarist Nick Brown, before they moved on to another single from their debut album, “Teenager”. Audience participation was a must on it, and they got nearly everyone clapping to the beat at the start of it, while Nick asked the fans to sing along at the end, which most everyone seemed happy to do, though it wasn’t loud enough. “Vince’s girlfriend is louder than that!” Nick told everyone in order to get some more out of them, and that helped lead to the start of some Texas jokes, since his girlfriend was from Texas, and her sisters were actually part of the audience.
After having some fun and laughs with everybody, they got back into show mode, doing a song from the recently released “Torches & Pitchforks”, “Wasted”, which I did find to be a bit repetitive at times. You could already tell that humor, especially in regards to banter, was a big part of Mona’s show, and at this point it appeared they were about to do a cover. “I heard there was a secret chord…” Nick crooned while softly plucking the strings of his guitar, getting an excited reaction from a few fans. A rendition of “Hallelujah” was not coming though, as he stopped right there. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he said, about the idea of them even covering that song, before they promptly tore into “Darlin’”, lead guitarist Jordan Young, bassist Zach Lindsey, Vince and Nick all rapidly rocked out on their instruments.
Upon finishing it, the Texas jokes continued, and while none were negative, they were pretty hit and miss with this group of Texans. “…I know, Texas jokes aren’t funny. Lighten up. It’s a Monday…” Nick said, acting as if he was irritated, but in a joking way. And since that wasn’t working, he put the target on himself. “…That guy with the mic makes less and less sense the more he drinks…”, which got the biggest rise from the crowd yet.
They kept going with a couple of other songs, the latter of which wound up being one of my favorites of theirs. It was very sharp and filled with venom, essentially being the epitome of a rock song. It was interesting when they finished it, though, Nick saying to everyone, “…Sometimes you play songs that aren’t even songs…” “Was that even a song before we started it?” Zach asked, giving the impression that perhaps it came about spur of the moment. Nick then moved the conversation in to what concerts have evolved into these days. “…You hear what you know, and then leave…” He then added, “I don’t believe in that.”, before continuing with, “I know music played by humans for humans is a novel idea…” The thing is, all of that would almost be funny if there wasn’t so much truth to it.
Is what wound up being funny, though, was that after this speech about people only sticking around to hear the “popular” songs, they did “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”, which Zach pointed out after they finished was the one song that everyone here knew (well, I didn’t know it, though.) It was ironic that things would work out that way, but certainly not hypocritical.
The talk of music continued, and now Nick also incorporated some real life experiences in order to show how different everybody is. “I’ve met people that have dicks who like other people with dicks. I’ve met people with dicks that like people with vagina’s…” He then threw in a meeting with someone from here in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas. “…Earlier I met a guy who’s been homeless for six months and said he’s an atheist…” (while on the topic of religion, at one point during the show Nick informed everyone that he was the son of a pastor, I believe it was, laughing when he said no one probably would have thought that.) The purpose of all that was to show that while we’re all different as far as background and beliefs go, we’re still all pretty much the same. “…Music is bigger than all of us. Fuck religion… fuck state….” he said, adding a bunch of other institutions to that list, before closing with, “I believe in music.”
I think that was the most Rock ‘n’ Roll speech I’ve ever heard, being very impactful, and they of course had to prove that, going almost right in to “Shooting the Moon”, which Nick put his guitar down for. He joined the audience on that one, as the crowd parted, letting him go where he wanted, which was almost back to the bar, before he eventually returned towards the front of the stage. They toned things down just a bit with “Like You Do”, and only did more so once Nick got his guitar back, knocking out “Pavement”.
I believe they followed it with another track from 2012’s “Mona”, “I Seen”. Regardless of if that’s right or wrong, Jordan, Zach, Vince and Nick tore it up on their respective instruments, and even though their 70-minute long set was almost over, they still had a lot of energy left to put into it.
One more song came next, after which they again thanked everyone for coming out on this Monday night. “…No one ever wants to do anything on Monday’s.” said Nick, before they brought the night to a close with “Lean Into the Fall”.
What they did was put on a real, entertaining performance, the likes of which are hard to find.
Making it all the better was the fact that I was not prepared for it in the least, and that’s always a great feeling when you see a band and they completely blow you away.
Anyway, in watching the members of Mona on stage, all the potential they have is readily evident, which makes me glad I saw them here at the Prophet Bar, because there’s no doubt they’re destined for bigger and better things (and bigger stages). They just have all the key components, from the live show, to writing meaningful music that has that certain radio friendly quality to it, and everything else a band needs to succeed.
They may be done playing for now, but keep an eye on their tour schedule, ‘cause they’ll no doubt be busy in 2014. And in the meantime, check out their music on iTUNES.
Very fun night, and it was nice getting to some bands from beyond the North Texas music scene. Too bad every Monday night can’t be this much fun. Oh, and this also wound up being the 600th concert I’ve seen. Not bad if I do say so myself.
The Prophet Bar was hosting a very unique show this night. Free Dominguez, best known as the frontwoman of Kidneythieves, was performing this night, and this final show of an only two-show tour of Texas was more of an intimate party than just your typical concert.
This Dallas date was billed as a “private event”, with buying tickets in advance being the only way to get in, as no tickets were sold at the door, giving it an exclusive feel, to an extent.
On top of that, Free had organized the lineup, with her cousin Jordi Baizan and fellow Los Angeles based singer Sierra Swan opening for her. (Dallas locals At Night were also scheduled to perform, though their van broke down on the way back from their Houston show).
However, since this was such an early show (starting about 6PM), both openers had finished by the time I was able to get there, though I heard good things about both.
Still, everyone was most excited for Free Dominguez, who had been over at the merch table meeting people and signing stuff for most of the evening (from what I heard), only leaving shortly before her and her bands 8:40 start time in order to get ready for the show.
Much of their 67-minute long set was comprised of material from “Volcano and the Sea”, an album that at one point during the night Free said she had been wanting to make for ten years, sounding elated that it had finally happened.
They kicked things off exactly how the record does, with the beautifully serene yet roaring rock number, “Calling”. She informed the decent size crowd on the title after they finished it, chatting with everyone briefly. “This is going to be our last song.” Free joked before they launched into “Beautiful”, which was just one of many songs this night that guitarist Static was able to shred on.
Drummer Beak Wing counted them in on the mesmerizing “Line in the Sand”, which was the last song they did in order as is heard on the record, and afterwards Free again spoke with the crowd, creating a real rapport with everybody. One thing she did was point out a couple who had drove all the way from St. Louis to see this show, a feat that earned them a round of applause. “…It’s stuff like that that keeps me doing what I’m doing…” remarked Free, being genuinely humbled by that, as well as all the fans in general who had come out to show their support.
“Make me a simple life before I die…” Free crooned as they started “Simple Life”, which somewhat deals with materialism, and wound up being a highlight of their show. At least I thought so. Upon finishing it, she pointed out one of the lines from it, for those who might not have caught it, and that was, “…Things that are forever are forever changing…” She commented on how that’s more or less a mantra for her, and it is probably one of the most true lyrics from a song. Talk then led to the next song, which Free noted was the first song she and Static wrote that wound up leading to “Volcano and the Sea”. “…He was screwing around on Skype…” she said, saying she liked what he was doing on his guitar and asked him to continue.
They then slowed things down with the dark and gorgeous “Corridors”, with Free hitting some utterly beautiful notes with her voice. “That’s always a fun one to do. It’s always different.” she stated, referring to Static as “the feral one”, adding that he always keeps them on their toes while performing it. And while they had toned things down with that song, they were about to scale back even more as Beak Wing and bassist Matt McJunkins left the stage. Free told everyone that for this next segment, she let Static pick the songs they were going to play, ones she hadn’t prepared for and was going to be as surprised as the audience. “…I might even forget the lyrics, like I did last night in Houston.” she said laughing.
This portion of the show saw them doing some stripped down covers of Kidneythieves songs, and the first one was the lead track from “Zerospace”, “Before I’m Dead”. They may have sounded a little different, but it was these songs that everyone seemed to love, and much of the audience was even singing along to them, especially “Jude (Be Somebody)”, which everyone seemed ecstatic to hear, and it did even catch Free off guard. “I don’t know what it is.” she said after Static’s first riff on the guitar, reiterating that after the second, before realizing. And no, she didn’t flub the words to either of those tracks.
As the rhythm section returned, Free took a few moments to discuss another project she and Static are working on, which will be a hip-hop collaboration. She expressed her love of the genre, even saying they recently got word from the label that they will be able to get who they want to collaborate with for what I believe she said would be an EP that would most likely be released in the first half of next year. She sounded very excited about it, and it will no doubt be an interesting record to hear once it’s finished.
As they got back to her solo material, they did some revamped renditions of a couple songs from “(.Unearth.)”, the addition of Matt and Beak Wing really helping flesh out the songs from how they are on the album, helping transform “ Darkest Rivers” into a beast of a song, and one they could all really throw down on. “…Enjoy it…” said Free, urging everyone to get the most out of it, adding, “…’Cause I don’t know when we’ll be back…” Following it was “Questions + Lies”, which helped wind the evening down, but they still had a couple songs left to do.
But before playing any more, Free pointed out that a special guest was in attendance, and that was someone who had backed their Kickstarter campaign, picking the reward option of having her write a song about him. In order to get to know him she said they had talked online many times, and she also had him keep a dream journal for a while, which he then gave to her. She was excited about the song, saying how good it was sounding and that she has had to fight the urge to share even a snippet with him, because she wants him to be surprised when he hears the full song, which she said would be titled “Mr. Goodnight”.
They got back to it with “Hearts Like Parachutes”, which made them appear as if they were still getting warmed up, with the whole band really loosing up, especially Matt, who thrashed about to the beat. Then, before their final song, Free pointed out someone else who was in attendance. It was a young girl who was at her first ever concert, and Free said she was glad the child had been in the bathroom earlier when she said the “f-word”. “…I’m sensitive about that stuff…” she clarified, shortly before encouraging everyone to support their favorite band by buying their music, then bashing a streaming service with, “Fuck Spotify!”. It was “Wolf” that brought their show to a close, though even after a little more than an hour, no one was ready for it to come to an end, letting it be known when it was said that would be the last song. “Do you not want me to enjoy this shot?” Free said jokingly, having gotten one early on in the night, but only drank a portion of so it didn’t “fuck up” her voice as she put it. A respectable ting to do I might add, since so many musicians these days don’t seem to think twice about how it might affect their singing.
As the band retreated back stage, the DJ they had at the event began to spin some more music as everyone started to mingle a bit, thinking it was over. It wasn’t.
Static and Free returned to the state after a minute or so, performing over the track the DJ had going, giving everyone one little bonus track.
It was truly an incredible show, and making it all the better was the intimate feel it had. The Prophet Bar is a smaller venue, and all four members were fairly cozy on stage, having just enough room to do a little moving around. That didn’t keep them from putting on one helluva show, though.
There’s no question that Static is a phenomenal guitarist, stealing the spotlight at times as you watch in wonder at his mastery of the instrument. Beak Wing and Matt are also experts at their craft, while Free Dominguez is amazing in all aspects. Often this night she could be seem conducting her body very fluidly to the music, moving her hands and arms about in perfect time to what her band was playing. On top of that, she has a stellar voice, which was no doubt the main tool that left everyone in awe this night.
Honestly, the first time I ever heard any Kidneythieves songs was the covers they did this night, it has prompted me to listen to their records. And while it may be a departure from the group that made her famous, Free’s solo music is every bit as great, albeit in a different way, but in the end, it’s all riveting music that will pull you in and make the trip an experience.
If you haven’t yet heard her solo stuff, check it out in either iTUNES or Bandcamp.
I’m glad I wound up going to this show, as it was well worth it, and I definitely won’t miss out on the next one… Whenever that may be.
Having six bands on a bill means getting the show started early and having most of the bands do shorter sets. So, by the time I arrived to the Curtain Club this night, I had already missed Item 9 and A Life in Arms Reach, while Down to Friend was getting ready to take the stage for their CD release show.
Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan. They were heavier than what I like, with a hefty amount of screaming. But even I managed to find their high-strung show somewhat entertaining, and their fans clearly loved it, moshing pretty much the entire time they were on stage.
And if their genre sounds more like your style of music, you can find the EP they released, “So Awesome, It’s Stupid” in iTUNES.
The music style changed with the next set of bands, with Waking Alice ushering in the rock portion of the night.
They may have had an abbreviated 30-minute long set, but it was still long enough it allowed them to hit the highlights, and they packed it full of rock., an getting them off to an excellent start was “Treason”. As usual, the song was sped up from what you hear on the “Retribution” EP, drummer Jonn Levey providing a quicker beat for the song, resulting in it having much more of an urgency to it. It seemed like they might slow things down with the following song, which frontman Rus Chaney noted was a brand new one they had written a couple of weeks before. “It’s a love song.” he added, prompting a jokingly disappointed “awwwe” from their fans and friends. “Shut up.” he quipped, saying it was more of an atypical love song, and, if I heard the name right, was titled “Paper. Rock. Shotgun.”
It certainly wasn’t your normal love song, and music wise it even had some slightly dark undertones at times, though the lyrics were definitely that of a love song, and not in the generic way that so many songs like that are written in. And if there was still any doubt that perhaps it was not a rock song, than Brandon Brewer’s guitar solo quelled it, being slick, polished and all around awesome. It also further whets the appetites of their fans, giving everyone a little more insight into what Waking Alice has been working on, and already has me intrigued as to what will be coming down the pipeline next.
“Scars” had a super tight rhythm section this night, particularly at the beginning and before the choruses, when bassist Brayton Bourque swiftly plucked the strings of his bass in perfect synch to Jon’s drumming, which was pretty fast in itself. Very cool, and just shows how the band is still tightening up their live show.
They were already halfway done with their set, and continued on with their latest single, which Rus mentioned at the time may even still be up for free download on their Reverbnation page, joking that every now and then they can be nice and give stuff away. He was referring to “Hostage”, the heavy and intense track that has quickly become a fan favorite. “Fighting for myself to break free from your grasp. Now I’m on my feet, I’m gonna kick some ass.” Rus sang on that beast of a song, before they moved on to some classic Waking Alice. “…You might know it.” remarked Rus before they launched into “Biggest Lie”, which is always an interesting one to hear, due to the ever changing guitar solo Brandon does during it. The one this night was one of the best riffs I’ve heard him go on, having a very raw rock sound, and Jonn also got the spotlight for a few moments, as he knocked out a drum solo.
They then closed with a cover. “…It’s probably Jonn’s favorite.” Rus commented. Jonn then smiled as he led them into The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Geek U.S.A.”. They put a good spin on it, and I found myself liking it even more this time around than the (only) other time they did it. You could tell they’ve put some more work into it since their September show, and hopefully it’ll be a cover that sticks around for a little longer.
Their set did seem to pass by a little quick, and I think everyone of their fans would have liked to have heard another one or two tracks, but there’s always next time for that. Actually, this shorter set seemed to make them hustle a little more, invigorating them and making them even more dynamic than usual.
They have one last show for the year lined up on the last day of the year (December 31st) at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, for those who really do want to rock in the new year. And of course check out their music (new and old) in iTUNES.
InnrCor was next up, another band who was celebrating the release of a new record, as well a brand new lineup for the group.
I stuck around for a bit, but just never really got in to it, and since I had been feeling under the weather since early on in the week, still didn’t feel great and I knew I didn’t like the headliners, Mad Mexicans, I went ahead and called it an early night.
It may have been a relatively short show for me, but that should say something about Waking Alice, too, ‘cause they alone were well worth the trip to the Curtain.
Area station KXT (91.7 FM) was celebrating their fourth anniversary this night, doing so by having organized a concert at the Granada Theater. And what a concert is was…
Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths) was headlining, but they had gotten a lone local band on this bill, and the Fort Worth/Dallas based Oil Boom had the pleasure of opening up this show.
The trio hit the stage at eight on the dot, drummer Dugan Connors counted them into their first song. Singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor then ripped into his guitar, starting one of their latest singles, “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, and if there was anyone in the room who was skeptical about the opener, that song quickly dispelled those thoughts. It’s a rocking good time, having everything desirable in a song, and they were only just getting started, as Dugan wound them into their next song with some steadier beats, while Ryan lightly plucked away at his axe.
“Happy birthday, KXT!” Ryan quickly shouted after finishing that track, as they tore into another unrecorded number, which boasted a sensationally tight rhythm section, bassist Steve Steward and Dugan ruling the tune. Well, except for the nice little solo Ryan got.
They were making sure they had time to play everything they could in their 31-minute set, but occasionally at time to insert some dialogue, such as at this point, when Steve held up his hand, making the “devil horns” gesture. “So, Johnny Marr is cool. Right?” Getting a roaring reaction of agreeance from those who had shown up early, then he added, “I’m not sure if the devil sign is right.” He didn’t have much time to reflect on it, though, as they bolted into another fun number, following it with another track.
“…I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll, I need that Rock ‘n’ Roll…” Ryan repeatedly sang throughout their next number, after he had made a quick guitar change, with the song being probably one of the most appropriate ones of the night. “You may have heard this next one on KXT.” Ryan informed any potential listeners of the station. “It’s “Don’t Worry, be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin he cracked. “I was going to say it was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac.” Steve chimed in. It wound up being neither, and instead was what is arguably the best track off the 2012 “Gold Yeller” EP, “The Great American Shakedown”. It’s filled with some soulful rock guitar chords, and the chorus will instantly have you singing along to it.
Sadly, that brought them to their final song of the night, which wound up being their longest, too, and worked as a fitting song to end with. “…I’m slowing down…” sang Ryan at points of this bluesy and slightly soulful number, as he Dugan and Steve, eventually trailed off on their playing, giving the impression that they were done. They weren’t quite done yet, though, coming back in strong, and finishing it out.
While their time on stage was short, they packed it full of energy, and their fun songs that sound a little like classic rock, while also incorporating some blues and soul into it all.
It may not be cutting edge, but it is pretty original music, and making it all the better is how polished their musicianship and stage show is, all of which resulted in me loving them even more this time around than I did the first time I saw them.
From Ryans’ distinct voice, to the humor he and Steven throw in from time to time, and even the faster paced, infectious songs they have, which are in part thanks to the quick beats Dugan busts out, there’s surely something about Oil Boom that will appeal to you. And out of all the local bands that could have opened this show up, these guys really deserved the spot, and I can’t imagine anyone having gotten the night off to a better start.
They have another Dallas show set for November 30th at The Prophet Bar, and check out their records in iTUNES.
Following them was singer/songwriter Meredith Sheldon, who was accompanied by another electric guitarist on stage.
“…I’m very happy to be back here for only the second time in my life.” she said after taking the stage, with “here” being the great state of Texas. She also noted she was from Massachusetts, and when she finished speaking of course one guy felt the need to comment, shouting at her, “Your hot!!”, a remark she kind of laughed at before dismissing it.
That was about all the talking she did, as they launched into a 35-minute set of continuous music, as they went from one song right into the next. They were a big departure from the acts they were sandwiched in between, being more minimal in some ways, yet they still retained a very rock element in their performance, and each could really shred on their guitars when they needed to.
They were still somewhat quieter, though, and her singing was fairly soft at times, giving what I thought was a very interesting dynamic to her songs.
In the end, I was a bit indifferent to it all. Some of the songs I really liked, others I just didn’t feel. For two people, though, they manage to put on a fairly entertaining live show.
With them off stage, the crowd couldn’t wait to see Johnny Marr, anxiously waiting for the 9:50 start time to roll around…
(I reviewed Johnny Marr’s set for On Tour Monthly. It can be found HERE.)
It’s hard to believe, but it had already been almost six months since Spooky Folk performed their Farewell for Now show, giving their hometown of Denton one last show to savor before singer Kaleo Kaualoku moved to Colorado. It was made clear they were just going on a hiatus, though, not breaking up, and would be doing shows whenever he could make it back.
Like this night for instance, where Dan’s Silver Leaf was again serving as the setting for their gig, and a well attended one at that.
The range in music styles was pretty eclectic this night, beginning with Peopleodeon, who did a short 18-minute long set.
The quintet was very electronic based, with the only live instrument being the drums. Though there are an electronic act or two that I do like, for the most, I’m not a fan of the genre. It wasn’t just that, though. Their singers voice was very soft, easily being overpowered by the music, nor did she have much of a stage presence, standing with her hands in her pockets as she sang into the microphone.
Needless to say, they didn’t win me over as a fan, and I’m glad they didn’t get too much time on stage.
It didn’t take long for them to clear off and Pageantry to set up their gear, getting the night going in more of a rock direction when they took the stage shortly before eleven.
Their final Denton show of 2013 was comprised mostly of newer or non-album tracks, such as their opener, which did a great job of setting up the dreamy rock landscapes their music takes you through. As the song came to an end, singer and guitarist Roy Robertson transitioned them into their next song with some hypnotic guitar notes. The title track of their debut EP, “Friends of the Year”, is an engrossing one, then, after quickly informing the audience of who they were, they got back to work with another tune.
Drummer Ramon Muzquiz segued it into the following song with some hefty drum beats, while a a loud mix of the drums, guitar and Pablo Burrulls’ bass wound them into the next song, “Disaster”. The very rhythmic track was a highlight of their set, as was the song that came afterwards. “I just want to crawl all over you…” Roy sang at the start as well as on the chorus, which is quite infectious.
Before that one, Roy had remarked that this would be their last Denton show of the year, noting they would be taking a little time off from performing, and now, as their 39-minute long set neared the end, they took another break as he pointed out their merch table set up in the corner. “…We have shirts for boobed and no boobed people.” he said. I’ve never heard men’s and women’s shirts described that way, and it was quite funny. He then announced the name of their final song for the night, which was “Caution”.
Their time on stage seemed to pass all too quickly, and I only wish they had, had a little more time so perhaps they could have done the other two tracks from their EP.
It was still a great show, though, and I think it’s safe to say Pageantry is one of the more original bands that resides in North Texas.
Roy is an excellent song writer and story teller, which is readily apparent, while the music has dashes of pop thrown in, giving it a bit of a glossy sound, but not enough to undermine the rock elements, which comes first.
Check out “Friend of the Year” on their Bandcamp page, and just keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE for more updates on them. They did a little tour a few months back, and released that EP earlier in the year, so it seems safe to say that 2014 will be an even bigger year for Pageantry.
The crowd had enjoyed both of the opening acts, but it was Spooky Folk who everyone was most excited about. As I said, it was May when they last played in Texas, while they performed at a music festival in Denver back in July, and they were greeted with open arms, packing out about three fourths of Dan’s Silver Leaf, with some people even standing out on the back patio trying to glimpse in at the stage.
Songs from their debut self-titled record as well as the upcoming “Youth is a Notion” were in play this night, and they started with a series of newer songs, drummer Chris Brown knocking out some powerful beats to kick off their opener. I’m sure I had heard it before, though I didn’t remember it, but it really stood out to me this night, and I’m already betting it’ll be one of my favorite cuts from the new album.
“I Believe”, which boasts a riveting ebb and flow, having some sweeter spots along with sections you could rock out to, seemed to get them into the full swing of things, as well as garnering the full attention of everyone. While the final notes from Petra Kellys’ violin, along with the other instruments, trailed off, singer and rhythm guitarist Kaleo Kaualoku began plucking the strings of his guitar, leading them into “Notion”. “Youth is a notion that is crooked as crime. Death lies in waiting in these shadows of mine…” Kaleo sang at the start of the track, which is just another one of their songs that deals with real life themes.
“So what’s been going on these last few months?” Kaleo asked the collection of friends and fans, who were clearly glad to have him back, even if it was just for a few days, answering the question with cheers and applause. He continued chatting with everyone, eventually mentioning their new record. “…It’s finally done.” he said, adding it should be available in the next month or so. When he ran out of stuff to say for the moment, he asked Petra to take over for him. “Kaleo abandoned us for Denver!” she exclaimed, giving him a hard time about the move. “It’s only a twelve hour drive.” he said, to which she corrected, saying, “More like fourteen.” “It’s only an hour and forty-five minute plane ride.” he replied.
Aside from some tuning that was going on, guitarist Jesse Clay Perry had moved over to stage right, where he now clutched Scarlett Wrights’ bass, while she had picked up her melodica. You could feel how anxious everyone was getting about hearing one of the fan favorite songs, but instead of jumping right into it, they eased in with a serene violin intro, mixed with some soft guitar notes. It was a delightful intro to “Resurrect!”, almost as good as the song itself.
Everyone was on a high from that song, and after another new one, Scarlett pounded out some thick bass lines, a little unrecognizable at first, but eventually becoming clear it was leading them into “This Sleep”. “It’s good to be back in Denton for a few days.” Kaleo stated after finishing the song, as they geared up for another classic. The crowd was ecstatic when they heard them rip into “Polaroid”, most of whom sang along to every word, appreciating something that before was probably taken for granted a bit, back when Spooky Folk would (and could) do multiple shows a month.
“If you can hear me, clap once.” Petra told the audience during another break, having fun with them by adding, “I said once.” after dozens of people had clapped their hands together. During the lighthearted moment, Scarlett exited the stage, while Chris and Jesse got more out of side, as Kaleo and Petra did softer track from the new record, and one she was quick to point out was her favorite. That pretty song was followed by another new one, requiring the full band like just about every other song of theirs, and it was a pretty lengthy one at that. It was a truly fantastic number, completely captivating me. It was balanced out by the shortest song they could have done, and it was done with the full-band, verses as a duo like the last time they played Dan’s. The song was “Diddle”, and the bass, drums and extra guitar made it even more moving, while Jesse and Scarlett sang along with Kaleo and Petra at the end, “…Looking for love in all the wrong places seems to be common these days…”
It trailed off, giving way to the gradual rise of “Kicking and Screaming”, one of two newer songs that became a hit about as quickly as it was worked into their live show, and they prepared to end things with the other. Kaleo pointed out that the next song was the last one of the night, which had to have put a little doubt in everyone’s mind, especially when it was revealed to be “Disheveled”. Nothing against the song, which is quite possibly the strongest in their arsenal, allowing Jesse to shred on his axe, while Kaleo adopts a whole different demeanor as he belts out the chorus. It ended exceptionally, with the entire band chanting, “Oooh” over and over, which would have been a perfect way to cap the show off, except for the fact that it wasn’t the one song everybody was wanting to hear.
“We’re gonna cut all the bullshit…” Kaleo declared after the applause subsided, adding that everyone knew they were going to do one more song, and they didn’t drag things out by having the crowd beg for an encore that clearly would have been coming. Instead, they dove right into “Bible Belt”, which is typically a sing along, and it was a massive one this night, much of the crowd singing along to the chorus, “I was born on the bible belt. Give me something sharp so I can kill myself, ‘cause I can’t go on living this way…”, ending their 53-minute long set perfectly.
It wasn’t as epic a show as they had done back in May, when they did two full sets, playing their first record in its entirety, as well as much of the sophomore release plus some covers, but it was still a memorable one. They hit all of the highlight tracks from “Spooky Folk” and then some, and they were well placed around all the new material.
What was surprising was how in tune they still were with one another. I’m sure they did some rehearsing for this show, but you still have to consider the fact that they hadn’t been on stage with one another in about four months, yet you never would have guessed it. The chemistry and tightness was still there, and it was impressive.
It’ll probably be some time before Kaleo gets back here in order for Spooky Folk to do another show, but at least the fans will soon have a new record to help hold them over to whenever the next show may be.
And until that record is released (which would assumingly be December at this point), check out their first one on their BANDCAMP PAGE.
But as great as the bands were, and as fun as the show was, the best thing about this night was that there was no sadness about it, like the farewell for now show. The mood was more festive this night, from the fans and band members alike, who were just happy to be seeing the band again, while Jesse, Petra, Chris, Scarlett and Kaleo were glad to be playing those songs live once more
It had been a little while since Serosia had done a hometown gig. Nearly two months to be exact, shortly before they hit the road as the main support act for Sevendust on a portion of their tour.
It was by far the biggest accomplishment Serosia has achieved yet, And now, after a few weeks back home to recoup, they were ready to perform an official homecoming show.
That was only made into more of a celebration thanks to Reno’s Chop Shop who was hosting and had put together quite the local rock show, making it the spot to be this Halloween night.
Gray-V got the night going, and by the time I got there (around 9), 5 Billion and Counting was finishing up a sound check.
The metal band was in the Halloween spirit, and got their show off to a fun start by doing the theme song to the Addams Family. It was certainly unlike any version I had heard before, with drummer Grant Bugg giving it a full percussion effect, while Jordan Robison made the rhythm section more dominating with some hefty bass lines.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and after that quick little song, they got into their original material, doing one aggressive and loud number, before slowing things down for a minute with “The (Real) Reason”, displaying what a good singing voice frontman Jason Wood has, doing a mix of singing and screaming on it. “This is one percent.” he stated before they began another track from their self-titled record, “1%”.
Things got much more intense with that one, and it was kept up with their next song, after which they took a break. Jason thanked the other bands and Reno’s for putting on the show, as well as urging people to check out their merch table, while guitarist Hector Delgado removed the devilish looking wolf mask he had been sporting. “…We’re not begging for your money, but we need your fucking money.” Grant chimed in, continuing on the topic of buying merch.
They knocked out a couple more songs, before ending with the deafening, “Reality”.
I should first note that 5 Billion and Counting’s music is far heavier than what I like, so I wouldn’t call myself a fan of theirs or anything. That said, I did enjoy this show more than when I saw them a few months back.
Jason’s screaming may be a little too much for me at times, but it’s balanced out pretty well with some slower parts, just enough that they managed to hold my interest. And they can definitely throw down on stage.
If you do like heavier rock/metal music, check out their record in iTUNES.
Following them, you had Secret of Boris, and all four members of the band were in full costume.
They were dressed as zombie cowboys, complete with cowboy hats and bloody bullet holes on their faces and necks, while frontman Cameron Taylor even wore some contacts that gave his eyes more of a dead look.
That said, it was fitting that they made their entrance on stage with the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” playing.
Once the song (and fanfare) had subsided, drummer Ryan Scherschell counted them into their opening track, as Ryan Ragus slapped out the opening bass riff of “How Do You Feel?” The infectious song had nearly everyone moving around, as well as singing once Cameron sang the first line, “Sheltered little girl on the run, fast as she can and far away from…”
It worked well as the opener this night, especially given how they had some in making their entrance on stage, rather than just going directly into the show. They of course received some applause for their efforts, though it was soon drowned out by the mix of the sample track and drums that begin “Desert Blood”. It may have gotten worked out of their live show for a while, but I’m glad it has found its way back, not just because it’s a favorite of mine, but I really do think it’s one of the best songs they do live, packed full of raw energy.
Another gem of their live shows is “What You Became”, during which Cameron got everyone to raise their hand in the air and wave it from side to side on the bridge, “…It’s true we like you better when you fail…” Another sample track then bridged it seamlessly into their next song, allowing Cameron enough time to get his rhythm guitar ready. The track sounded just enough like the song it was setting up to identify it to any SOB fans, and soon they tore into one of the singles from the “Your Ghost” record, “The Watcher”.
They took a little break to get ready for the next song, during which Cameron bantered with the crowd (who had packed the smaller room), saying earlier in the night he had walked into a convince store in his costume. “…Why are you dressed up like that?” he said one of the employ’s asked him, “And I was like, “What do you mean?” he said, getting a laugh once people caught the joke. He then turned the conversation towards the new material they’ve been working on in their rehearsal space. He had to ask a couple times, but eventually got a loud response of people who wanted to hear one of the ones, as Ragus asked him which one it was. “It’s the one you don’t know.” Cameron replied.
It was a different new one than they had done just a few weeks before, titled “Make It Out”, and it was a beast of a rock song, being more along the lines of “Desert Blood” or “What Have You Done?”, at least in regards to how powerful it was, and it may well be my new favorite SOB song. “I’m gonna need your help on this next one.” Cameron informed everyone before they started their fun and delightful rendition of A-Ha’s “Take On Me”.
That was the lone cover they did this night, and they returned to their stuff with the slightly dark, emotion filled, “Falldown”. As it neared the end, they were joined by an old familiar face, as Taylor Walding rushed on stage, adding an additional guitar to the sounds Ryan Byrd was already cranking out. It’s been around a year since he left Secret of Boris, though the moves weren’t lost him, thrashing around as he always had, as if he had never even left.
Another sample track segued them into the next tune, while Cameron pointed out his old band member, before saying their final song for the night would be, what else, but “Virus”. It was performed with the band as a five-piece, giving it an extra layer that the song doesn’t necessarily need, though it was noticeable, and made the song even more incredible than usual.
Taylor quickly exited the stage, while Byrd began to put down his guitar, making the show seem like it really was over, and leaving me thinking, “I can’t believe they’re not doing Retro.” Well, they weren’t about to ignore that staple song.
Some of the crowd had already started for the patio area, but most were pulled back in when they heard the start of the song, while Cameron grinned. “Do y’all want to hear one more?” he asked. It had been quite awhile since I heard them end a show with that song, and it was nice to see it back as the closer, wrapping up their 38-minute long set. It also featured one more brief appearance from Taylor, who sang some backing vocals on the bridge, “Repackage, reissue. Re-track, remix, continue.”
Secret of Boris made sure their Halloween show was memorable one, chocked full of energy as it always is, and the costumes served to only make it more fun for everyone.
There’s no doubt they’re one of the more original sounding bands in the D/FW music scene, from the unique brand of rock they produce to the, to the very distinguishable voice that Cameron possess. And if the rest of their new material is as great as the songs I’ve heard so far, then their next record will outdo everything they done before.
You can get some FREE song downloads on their REVERBNATION PAGE, and if you dig it, check out “Your Ghost” in iTUNES.
By the time Serosia was all set up, it was around 11:20. Still kinda earlier, giving them ample time to run through what was nearly an hour long set.
Drummer Anthony D’Agata, bassist Joseph Kuban and guitarist Derek Troxell got their show going with a brief instrumental portion, acting as a prelude to “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars”, which Derek soon launched them into. As always, it was one hell of a way to start things off, and they were only just getting warmed up and starting to build their momentum for the night. “What you say, Reno’s?” roared frontman Lucas D’Agata, receiving some loud cheers, while his band mates wound things into the next song, “Friendly Fire”.
The fans were getting warmed up, too, doing some jumping at the start of that heavy song, as instructed by Lucas, pumping them up for the moshing that would come later. The hard rock, and at times somewhat melodic “Criminal” followed, and upon finishing it, Lucas addressed their costumes for the night. “…Oh yeah, were three of the dead presidents and a chicken…” he said, as he, his brother and Derek each had their faces painted white with some black around their eyes, resembling skeletons, while Joseph was in a full chicken suit. “It was the brainchild of him.” Lucas added, pointing at Joseph. He went on to say how good it was to be back home after their stint on the road with Sevendust, after which they tackled another song.
“This is The Architect.” Lucas announced, as they churned out another song from last year’s “Variables” EP, and album they would play in its entirety by the time the night was over. “Change your mind today…” the audience sang in the final minute of the song, when Lucas suddenly stopped singing, while Derek lightly strummed the strings of his axe.
They bridged the end of it into their next song, but first Lucas shared something else from their tour. “…I told everyone on the road, “This is how we do it in Dallas.” he said, referring to their explosive live show, before he belted out the first line of their newest song, “Reduced to Memory”. They next took things down a few notches (at least at times), with the not often heard “A White Lie, A Red Herring”, though it’s a favorite of mine from their latest EP. A few fans began clapping to the beat at the start, prompting others to get involved, until just about everyone was doing it. “…I don’t mind that…” said Lucas, encouraging everyone to keep it up.
By this time in the set, the face paint had started to disappear from the sweat they had worked up, and also fading was Lucas’s voice. He pointed out he had gotten a bit sick, but so far (and oddly enough) his weakening voice was only noticeable when he was speaking, but sounded just fine when he sang. Even on “Ventriloquist”, which is possibly the heaviest song they do, with Lucas doing a great deal of screaming, his voice sounded fine. Speaking of that song, it had the tightest ending I think I’ve ever seen it have, Anthony, Derek, Joseph and Lucas all being in flawless synch with one another as they thrashed about.
Lucas then had a question for everyone. “Do y’all want to see Derek sing?!” he asked the audience, his voice cracking even more now, as “Ventriloquist” had clearly taken a toll on his vocal chords. “…These people paid good money to hear you sing.” Lucas told Derek, who was acting like he didn’t want to, before handing his guitar over to Lucas. Lucas then introduced their stage manager, Jim Shires. “…He lost his stage fright while we were on tour.” stated Lucas.
Jim and Derek shared vocal duties on a cover song they busted out, both doing some vicious screaming, while Lucas was doing a good job at shredding on the guitar. It was a fun way to break things up, and showcase a different side of Serosia that you never see, and once they reverted back to their typical places, they knocked out the at times beautiful track, “Sway”.
They were almost done now, and after pointing out that they only had one more song left, he chatted with his band mates briefly. “…Anthony really wants to do this song.” he told everyone. Throughout the night, one of their fans had been requesting “The Room”, which Lucas would brush off, at one point saying, “Yeah, the room’s packed.” Well, now he got his wish, as they barreled through that classic from their debut album, “The Current State of Being”, appeasing all the longtime Serosia fans, as well as many of the newer ones.
Now there really was just one song left, and while I thought Lucas’s voice had held up very well thus far, it was reaching the end of its rope. He even joked about it, saying, “…This might suck, but it’ll be the best fucking suck you’ve heard.” To be completely honest, no, it wasn’t the best I’ve heard “Superposition” sound, but it was far from sucking, either, and even if it had, I have a feeling that their rabid fan base wouldn’t have cared much. Before starting the sing along portion of the song, Lucas said they had done it every night they were on tour. “…And every night, it got louder and louder.” he said. “But I told everyone, “Dallas, Texas is the loudest.” So prove me right.” he finished, before the fans shouted, “I feel a war!” back at the band a few times.
In the end, he said their hometown crowd was the loudest, and rocking song, which allowed all of their fans who were there to express their sheer love for the band, was a nice way to conclude their 52-minute long set.
From my perspective, this felt like the perfect homecoming show for Serosia, and even on a Thursday night their fans had come out in droves to support them and welcome them back from their national tour.
Speaking of the tour, you could tell it paid off for the band. They’re known for their incredibly tight and calculated live performances, easily outdoing even some nationally known bands, but they of course don’t play night after night when they’re home in Dallas. And that rigorous touring they had done helped them elevate their live show to an even higher level, and if you thought they were a well-oiled machine before, well, you should see them now.
Your next chance to see them will be on November 17th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, where they’ll be opening for He Is Legend. And check out their music in iTUNES, and on their store in REVERBNATION.
It was an excellent Halloween, and I can’t think of any better way to have spent then by seeing some awesome local bands
This night turned out to be far less ideal than expected, at least in terms of the weather, when the rain began pouring from the clouds in the suburbs north of Dallas, as they gradually made their way to the city itself.
It suddenly turned into the perfect night to stay in the warm confines of a house, but Texas Music Live (which is part of Texas Music Magazine) had put together a little Texas tour of three Austin based acts, one of whom was Quiet Company. It had been five months since I had last seen them, and it was going to take a little more than heavy rain to keep me away from the show, which was stopping at the big room of The Prophet Bar on its fourth night.
Luke Huch was the opening act, though it was a full band performance, and one I missed just about all of, because they evidently got off to a very early start.
The first band who was on this tour was The Reynolds Number, didn’t waste time getting their gear set up, and after a quick sound check, they were ready to go.
“…We drove a long way to be here…” joked singer and pianist Om Shankar, noting it was all of about a three hour drive. He went on to encourage everyone to get closer to the stage, saying something to the effect of wanting to hang out with everybody, though the way he phrased it he should have said “hung”, leading to a humorous as he pondered on the past and present tenses of the word.
It’s always good to start with a joke, even if it’s one that happens unintentionally, and they then started their first song, the lead track from their newly released self-titled record, “Follow You”. It was clear from the get go that their set was going to be something to soak in, their catchy brand of piano driven rock immediately captivating you, while Om started the first line of the song, “In this town where we sleep and our bodies come to rest, someday it all will end…”.
There weren’t too many people there, but they had seemed to capture the interest of most who were there, and as the quintet wound things into their next track, they slowed it down, as Om mentioned this was their first time to play Dallas, looking at bassist Gabriel Elpers and guitarist Josh Atkins for confirmation on that. “What was that place we ate at?” he asked them, before remembering it was the Angry Dog, a staple restaurant in the Deep Ellum area, and one he seemed to have enjoyed.
They then moved on to the subsequent song on their new record, “Awake”, which eventually bled in to one of, if not the best song they did this night, “Cover Your Bones”. That latter song just had a different quality to it than the others, at least in the live environment, even having a strong sense of urgency to it at times, in a very good way.
Along with the current music, The Reynolds Number also threw in a couple of new songs they’ve written, one of which was “How Quick”, and it was another standout. “This one’s brand new. No one’s ever heard it, not even us.” Om joked before starting it.
Their show hit a well placed lull after that, guitarists Colin Campbell and Josh, as well as Gabriel and drummer Mack Arnos getting a little break for the majority of the piano based, “Prophet”. They sprang back into action afterwards, though, segueing the song right into the slightly poppy, “All Fall Down”. They knocked out one more new one, I believe it was titled “Diamond Days”, and upon finishing it Om pointed out their merch table at the back. “…It’s next to Quiet Company’s beautiful display… They took arts and crafts in school, and we didn’t…” he added, before Gabriel shook his head, saying, “I did.”
As their 38-minute long set neared its end, things got a little personal when Om stated this next song was about he and his dad going camping when he was younger, at least that was what he said to set up “Down to the Riverbed”. Their final song was another brilliant one, and best of all was the help they enlisted towards the end of it, when a few of the members of Quiet Company joined them on stage, adding some extra percussion to the song via some toms. Making it all the more entertaining was the fact that Matt Parmenter was wearing a Darth Vader mask.
They somehow managed to liven things up even more than what The Reynolds Number already had, making that song the perfect one to close with, and they even got a portion of the audience to chant along with part of the song.
I’ll admit, I’m not usually a fan of rock bands that rely so heavily on a piano, mainly because I feel it was overdone in years past when that was the “phase” in much of the mainstream music. That said, The Reynolds Number was different than most other bands in that category.
There was nothing about them that was generic, and they even put a bit of an interesting spin on their rock songs. They made me a fan with ease, from the well-crafted songs, which incorporated all of the instruments quite well, to Oms’ rather angelic sounding voice. Well, that, and also the energy Josh, Colin, Mack and Gabriel put on, all of whom could throw down and rock out.
They were just one of the bands of the night who has talent that, in a just world, will one day have them performing in a much bigger venue (and to a lot more people) than where they were this night. And hopefully that’ll happen one day.
In the meantime, you can purchase their music over on their BANDCAMP PAGE or in iTUNES. You can even download a live cut of one of their songs for FREE on the Bandcamp site. And for future show updates, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE.
They definitely got the ball rolling on this night of music, and if I hadn’t already been all too familiar with Quiet Company, I would have thought it was next to impossible for The Reynolds Number to be topped.
“…This spaced out stuff isn’t going to work…” Taylor Muse informed the audience once the sound check was complete. He urged everyone to gather in around the stage, saying, “Or I’ll punch you all in the gut…”, if they didn’t, to which a fan of theirs could be heard remarking, “He’ll do it.”
Things looked slightly different from what they had at the past Quiet Company shows I’ve seen, mainly because of the acoustic guitar Taylor was using. It did look foreign compared to what I’m used to, though it was a crucial part of their first song, which was either a cover or one of the few new ones they tried out this night. That was the only time that acoustic got used this night, though, and while he switched out to an electric, Matt Parmenter, who was apparently getting into the Halloween spirit a little early, donned his Darth Vader helmet. The funny thing was before they began their show the actual helmet part got detached from face mask part, and without the helmet, it did look a little strange.
“Tell a joke!” someone shouted before they were able to get the next song going. “…I used to tell jokes on stage… But then everyone else banned me from it…” replied Taylor, still managing to crack a joke. The sample track for “It’s Better to Spend Money Like There’s No Tomorrow Than Spend Tonight Like There’s No Money” then faded in, bringing with it its signature infectiously happy mood, and it’s one song that really provokes the urge to dance. During the break in the song, when guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Blank is doing his melodic solo, Taylor made things a little more fun. “…National songwriting treasure…” was the set of words he used to describe Will Smith, before busting out a portion of the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That unexpected song within a song had much of the crowd singing along, sort of laughing while doing so, and I must say, Taylor could actually rap rather well. In all, it only lasted for a few lines, before they closed out their song, Taylor singing/screaming, “…We all end up… in the cemetery.”
Next up, they had a new song for everyone. “…You better enjoy them, or I’ll punch ya in the gut.” was another idle threat Taylor made. It was a good little song, being a bit different from most of the stuff from 2010’s “We Are All Where We Belong”, even sounding kinda slow at times. It was enjoyable, though, particularly the keyboard intro that Cody Ackors was in charge of at the start.
“I’d kill… At least a drifter for some water.” Taylor remarked after the applause had subsided, bantering with the audience a little longer before they launched into their next song. The drum stick he was clutching was a sign as to what it would be, using it to play his guitar for part of what is arguably one of the deepest songs you’ll find on “WAAWWB”, “Everything Louder Than Everything Else”. The fans were clearly feeling the songs passion, too, as most sang along to every word. They were also singing along to “You, Me, and the Boatman”, which they went directly into, drummer Jeff Weathers patching them into it with the steady beat of the songs verse.
Taylor suddenly ceased singing on one line, leaving the fans to weakly, yet audibly chant, “…Everybody knows what it looks like to be in love…”. They kept the string of songs going by transitioning into some soft percussion, Cody switching from his trombone to the additional tom, striking the rim of it, while Matt, Thomas and Taylor all clapped along to Jeff’s beats, getting the audience to do the same. Everyone seemed pleased to hear “On Modern Men”, another moving song with some powerful lyrics, and since I had last seen them, they had tweaked the outro a bit. Taylor got a solo of sorts, leaning over while his guitar hung in the air as he shredded on it, progressively getting faster, before his band mates matched the intensity as they brought it to a spectacular end.
They took a break after finishing it, and Taylor gave the obligatory merch speech all bands have to make, though it was different from most that I’ve heard before. He went into a lengthy conversation about how buying one shirt is the equivalent of four thousand and something plays on Spotify, joking that no matter how much you liked a song, after a few hundred listens you’d be pretty tired of it. “…So isn’t it just easier to buy a shirt?” he asked, also mentioning at one point that he was talking just to catch his breath.
They knocked out one more new one, a fairly fast paced tune that was Quiet Company at their best (or at least another example of it), with one of the lines being, “…My heart is pumping dust…”. As the music trailed off, Cody again took to the tom, while the rest of the band played some soft, and at times soupy notes, creating a truly perfect segue. The thing was, while I had an idea as to what the song was, until they switched gears and Taylor strummed his guitar, giving shape to “Preaching to the Choir Invisible, Part I (What do You Think Happens When We Die?)”. The fans again took part in clapping to the beat during the first section of the song, until it picked up.
It’s a wonderful note to end on, somewhat repeating what is essentially the mantra from the record, “We are all where we belong.”, and during the final minute of their 47-minute long set, Taylor grabbed the microphone stand, holding it above everyone’s heads, leaving the crowd to croon, “Ooooooh.” repeatedly.
That’s one of the best things about Quiet Company, they make sure the fans are a part of the show, not just spectators to the event.
Aside from that, it’s the more unique style of rock music they play (how many rock bands have you seen that use a trombone?), mixed with the honest, bone cutting lyrics. And then you have the fact that their live show is one of the most explosive and dynamic ones you can see, and they all leave everything out on the stage.
There’s a reason why within the past year they decided to become a full-time touring band, and if you see them, you’ll understand it.
Depending on your preference, you can buy their music on either iTUNES or BANDCAMP, and on their Bandcamp store you can even download a little sampler for FREE.
Rounding out the night was the longtime running Austin band Alpha Rev. They have a pretty dedicated fan base around here, and even elsewhere, but when I’ve listened to their music in the past, I was never won over as a fan, and I was curious as to if their live show might do the trick.
The band descended from the staircase around 11:25, taking their spots, as they prepared to start their 64-minute long set.
It was “Bloom” (which was released earlier in the year) that seemed to be the main focus of their set this night, and four of the five members, singer and acoustic guitarist Casey McPherson, keyboard player Jeff Bryant, drummer Clint Simmons and bassist Nick Jay all crooned into their respective mics, stretching out the intro of “Crystal Colorado”… A little too long if you ask me.
Once they finished it, Jeff slid over to the pedal steel guitar, while Casey took over the keys for “Highways”, before switching back to the acoustic axe near the end, as it got a little more catchy than it had been. They kept on moving through their setlist, doing a couple of other songs before getting to “Stop Trying”. “…This song’s about wanting to give up…” Casey informed the crowd, joking that he got pretty creative with the title.
“I Will Come” created more of an ominous, and even dark mood, before casting some light on with “New Morning”. Afterwards, they were joined on stage by Taylor Muse, who again had his acoustic guitar in hand. “Quiet Company!” Casey shouted, wanting to get some applause for them. “Actually, my name’s Taylor. Not Quiet Company.” Taylor clarified. They co-sang a song, and it was a cover I don’t imagine anyone would have thought they would do, since it was first done by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Taylor sang the first verse of “Islands in the Stream”, with Casey handling the second, before they turned it into more of a duet. It was mostly acoustic at first, too, and was truly beautiful, easily the most gorgeous song that any band did this night, and that held true even when guitarist Zak Loy and the rest of the band joined in on the song.
Taylor exited the stage after that song, though “Sing Loud” continued the beautiful, tranquil mood that cover had established, before winding things down with another number. As they prepared to end their show, Casey again took a seat behind the keys, while Jeff went back to the pedal steel guitar. “…This is about a letter written during the Civil War…” said Casey, adding this was one of his favorite songs to do. And while he was saying all that, Zak was exchanging his guitar for a mandolin. That was how they set up their final song, “Lexington”.
There can be no arguments that all five of them are extraordinary musicians. Clint was a fantastic drummer, while Jeff added a bit of elegance to the show, his fingers dancing fluidly across the keyboard. Nick had that same swagger all (or at least most) bassists seem to have, with even a little more gusto, and while Zak is a great guitarist, it was a little weird for me to not see him going full throttle, as he did with the band I last saw him in (the now defunct Mothers Anthem). As for Casey, he was clearly the glue that held them all together.
I can appreciate all that, but on the flip side, I still was made into a fan. Their music was often beautiful, especially at the times they had some four part harmonies going, but I also found it to be generic, and even dull, never holding my complete and undivided attention.
They currently have no shows on the horizon, though you can of course preview and buy their music in iTUNES.
When it was all said and done (and given how few people were there, either due to the weather or whatever), I felt like the $20 price tag to get in was overpriced by at least five dollars, and probably more like eight. Still, Quiet Company and The Reynolds Number softened the blow of the cost, making it worth it in the end.
It seems that so many bands these days (on the local level) don’t always give their band and fans a proper goodbye. Instead, many just fade into obscurity, becoming nothing more than a memory.
The Hope Trust wasn’t going to be one of those bands, though, and after eight years or so and two full-length records, they were offering one last performance to their fans, closing out their career with a hometown show at Dan’s Silver Leaf in Denton.
The lone opening act on this bill was the fellow Denton based group Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers, whom I’ve heard of for some time now, and was looking forward to seeing and hearing what they were like.
Their 37-minute long set was a mix of old and current material, and I believe even some newer songs, including the first couple they began with. It had my interest from the get go, being a good mix of folk and rock music, and it was clear from the start that singer and acoustic guitarist Daniel Rush Folmer penned some very good songs.
Upon finishing those two a friend of the bands who was in the crowd made the typical concert joke by requesting, “Freebird!”, which was met with a very unusual answer. “Well, get up here and sing it and we’ll play it…” Daniel responded, calling the guy out by name. Since they weren’t going to do “Freebird”, they did the next best thing, the lead track from their debut “Brown and Blue” album, “Brakeman”, a semi slower song that had a nice vibe. The folksy song was only accentuated by the pedal steel guitar that Burton Lee was playing, but that song didn’t go off without hitch.
Daniel broke a string during it, finishing out the song, before having no option but to replace it. As if that were a regular occurrence, his Designated Drivers took charge, drummer Justin Collins starting an instrumental piece with some light beats, with the rest of the group, guitarist Tony Ferraro, bassist Chris Garver and piano player Taylor Sims, as well as Burton, gradually joining in. It was some great riffing that kept them from losing all the momentum they had going, and eventually Daniel returned, but without his acoustic guitar.
He had instead been loaned an electric from The Hope Trust’s singer Kelly Upshaw, which seemed to make the rest of their show (or at least parts of it) a little more rocking than the first few songs had been. The slower love song “W/O U” was one that really stuck out to me this night, and I mentioned earlier how good a writer he was, take for instance one of the first lines, “…Baby cut me open I could use some love…”. They followed it with “Downers”, a fast paced tune from their most recent record “Malverde”, which had Tony adding some backing vocals to it, as he and Daniel sang some of the lines in time with each other.
“SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG” was another fun song, and after another new one, “Mama Plz Cum Home”, Daniel took a moment to introduce the Designated Drivers to everyone. After naming everyone else, he mentioned who he was, which turned into a joke as he said, “And I’m Kelly Upshaw…”.
They then knocked out a few more (three to be exact) newer songs to close out their show.
I thought Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers got the night off to a great start. The bulk of the songs they played were pretty fast paced, and while there were some folk tinges to the music, it was also pretty Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The distinctive voice that Daniel has also helped set them apart, and he just has one of those voices that, for example, if you were to hear on the radio, you’d immediately know who it was.
Their upbeat music and fun live show managed to make me into a fan, and I’ll definitely be seeing them again… Sometime.
You can purchase both of the band’s LP’s on their BANDCAMP PAGE, and they are pretty cheap as far as digital downloads go, so go give some of their music a listen.
Considering most of The Hope Trusts’ gear was already set up (i.e. the drum kit, etc.), it didn’t take too long for them to get the instruments set up and sound checked, before having to wait a bit, for their 11:17 start time.
Being their final performance, the quintet decided to focus on both the records they released, kicking things off with a few songs from 2007’s debut, “The Incurable Want”.
“Ok, Alright” seemed like a rather appropriate song to open with, seeming to fit the group’s current situation quite well when you took some of the lyrics out of context. “…All that’s left is death…” crooned singer and rhythm guitarist Kelly Upshaw before the song’s first chorus, as they got their last hurrah underway. Guitarist Jeremy Buller dabbled on the keys for “Run It Through”, another gem from that old record, while Kelly announced the song that followed it as being “Whatever Suits You”.
Tex Bosley got it started with steady and hefty drumbeat, and that song highlighted two of the best characteristics this band had; a catchy music bed and lyrics that could cut to the bone. For instance, “…Now everything you’ve hated is the future that you’re making, without me… Time can heal our wounds, but leaves a scar and bruise to remind you…”. I felt it a good reminder of why I assume most people (or at least myself) liked the band in the first place, and now, as the crowd heard that one and all the others for, in all likelihood the final time, it reinforced the idea that you needed to soak it all in and savor it.
“Don’t Want to Fight” concluded the time they spent on that first record, and as they geared up to move on to “Light Can’t Escape”, Mike Upshaw laid his guitar down and walked over to the keyboard at stage right. Kelly killed the time with some banter, saying something that this show was a recital. “…I like calling concerts recitals…” he joked, before adding, “…They are better than rehearsals.”
They then tackled the lead track from the record that wound up being their swan song, “Won’t Take Much”, a personal favorite of mine, and I will truly miss. “…Is confession all we’ll ever know? Is forgiveness at the end of the road?…” are a couple of the questions raised on that deep, thought provoking number, and as it ended, Mike went back to his guitar, as the rest of the instruments (and probably the clip of a sample track they used) resonated, bridging them into their next song, “Climb Your Own Trees”.
Already at a few points this night Kelly had thanked everyone for coming out, and during the next break he did so again, noting how much it meant to him and the rest of the band that they all were there. “…This is for the lovers…” he said of the next song they had in store, slowing things down for the more tender, “Drive to the Ocean”. Possibly the best part of the song was the outro, switched up a bit from what you hear on the record, prominently featuring Jeremy on the keyboard, which intertwined well with some sweet notes Mike was playing, giving the song an even more gorgeous texture.
Mike again manned the keyboard for the next song, “Afterglow”, and upon finishing it a fan shouted out, “Ten more years!” “It’s not me you have to convince.” Kelly replied, before soon naming the title track from the album, “Light Can’t Escape”. It was one of the more rocking songs they wrote, while still having their signature indie rock sound at its core, and that rock nature was on display at times, as all the members, including bassist Andy Odom, seemed to get more into it, and Kelly could even be seen shredding on his guitar a bit.
“There are seriously twenty-eight more songs left.” he joked, but even if it had been true, no one had a problem with that, and actually were welcoming of it. More than a few of their songs have some religious undertones to them, and none more than “Sleepy Romans”, which came next in their set, though they aren’t so much undertones in that one. “Oh, Jesus Christ, is it a bad time to get right with you? I’ll be good, do the things I should until you come back through…” is one of the many lines that’s a testament to that.
With the first notes of “Lost In Transmission”, it seemed like the night was about to end, seeing as that had been the standard closer since they released “Light Can’t Escape” back in 2011, or at least every time I had seen them that was how they ended gigs. It’s a fitting final note, and that was especially true this night, during the lengthy instrumental outro, which capped things of well.
That brought their 48-minute long set to a close, and for a moment it seemed like they were done, but the fans who were there weren’t quite ready for that. Some light chanting began, then, at the urging of the sound guy, the people got louder, and the five guys retook their spots.
“We don’t really do encores, so let’s get over the bullshit and just do more songs.” Kelly remarked. Mike once again played the keys on their next song, a single which Kelly said had been “certified pewter”. Jeremy was the lone guitarist on “Throw Me Overboard”, proving he can be a good, energetic frontman when not playing an instrument, and afterwards, they arrived at the final song.
“…Shit dies and things end. It’s going to happen to you and me…” Kelly said rather bluntly, and while I didn’t think he sounded all that bitter by it, one of his band mates asked him if he was. He then took a time out, thanking each of them for being in this band with him, saying he had been playing in bands with Jeremy and Andy since his early days. He also thanked Tex for being there, as well as Mike and another brother who was a spectator this night, but Kelly pointed out had been in the band at various points. “Tried To” ended this 9-minute long encore (of sorts) section, and though I wouldn’t have thought it before hand, it just sounded like the right song for these guys to end on. The outro was the best part, allowing all of them one final push, tearing it up on their instruments, before the band’s heartbeat slowed, giving out as Kelly once again thanked everyone for being there to witness it.
I think the best part of their show was the fact that there was no somberness to it. That’s not to say it was a happy event by any means, though I didn’t feel it was sad, either, unlike other farewell shows I’ve been to. None of the members of the band made it feel that way, either, instead it was like it was just another show.
It served as a nice final page in the book these guys had been writing over the years, and I don’t think their story could have ended any better.
I might not have been a die hard fan who was at every single show they did, but I did love the band and the music they made, and it will be missed. However, on the bright side of things, Kelly is planning on starting a solo career, backed by a full band, and he’ll have a record out next year (probably Spring 2014).
In the meantime, you can still purchase both of The Hope Trust’s records on their BANDCAMP STORE, so, even if you missed out on ‘em, give their exceptionally well written music a listen. You’ll be glad you did.
Pro Rehearsals had put together the show at The Curtain Club this night, showcasing five bands who rehearse at the space.
Realm Drifter was one of those bands, though they went on pretty early, well before I got there. I did arrive in time to see the second band, though, and that was Isaacs Fallen.
After seeing this trio take the stage, I remembered I had seen them before. Actually, a few times before, though it had been a few years.
I was never really a fan of theirs, just not liking the more throaty voice the singer and guitarist Shelton Enlow has, and that held true this night, too. At least for the first half or so of their set.
It took awhile, but I eventually started warming up to their alternative rock sounds, even enjoying it to a certain extent.
They weren’t my favorite act of the night, nor was I converted into a full on fan, though I legitimately enjoyed some of the songs they played, and for a three-piece, they really do have a well-rounded and full sound.
They (and presumably the first band, too) were a good way to warm up the audience this night, but there were still three bands left, all of whom could be headliners, and the first of those was Mara Conflict.
They ripped right into the first song of their 34-minute long set, causing some of the people from outside as well as those inside to gather more around the stage as the curtain was opened, revealing the hard rock/metal outfit.
“How the fuck are y’all doing?!” asked frontman Josh, after they had finished that first tune. He went on by trying to pump the crowd up, saying he knew most of the crowd knew the next one. “…It’s called Broad Brush.” he said, and even asked the fans if they knew how to start it, saying he was going to count them in. It didn’t go exactly as planned, and no one else let out an ear piercing scream like Josh did, before the instruments roared to life. That’s not to say no one enjoyed the song, though, they did, and it was impossible not to bang your head to the incredibly tight rhythm section drummer Dylan and bassist Charlie had going on that slightly dark track.
They kept the new(er) stuff coming, next doing “You Sleep”, Ben shredding on his guitar at the start of it, while they next cranked out the hefty, “Tempting the Mind”. As the song neared the end, Josh climbed up on the drum riser, facing Dylan while he sang, before jumping backwards off the riser. Upon finishing it, Josh mentioned they were tentatively calling their next song “Chainsaw Panda”. “In fact, I think that’s going to be the full title…” he said, “Tentatively Called Chainsaw Panda.” It’s a name that will stick with you, as will the song, and another truly excellent piece they’ve churned out is “Clear Eye Pane”.
“…Pane like a window pane, not like what you feel.” Josh clarified before the song. Jarrod added some sweet licks to it at times, by tapping his finger on some of the strings on his axe, creating a very unique sound. The song also has a killer instrumental outro, during which Josh left, leaving Ben, Jarrod, Dylan and Charlie up there to rock out and throw down.
Once the full group was reassembled, Josh checked to see how they were doing on time, and they had enough left for one more. That final song was “Closure”, which Josh pointed out was an apt song to end on, and it was, giving some finality to their set, while also being a little less heavy then their other stuff, at least at times, while the brutal screams are still thrown in for great effect.
Mara Conflict was fantastic this night, coming across as being more polished then they even were the last time I saw them, in regards to their performance and songs.
It was a dynamic show, and made me even a bigger fan of the bands than I already was.
If you like hard rock music (or even if you don’t), give ‘em a listen. They write some creative music that should appeal to most.
They have a couple of EP’s you can purchase in iTUNES, and while this was most likely their last show of 2013, expect to hear a lot more from Mara Conflict in 2014, when they should also have a new record available.
Once the curtain closed on them, the Secret of Boris logo, which is similar to shadowy figure from the crime watch symbol, lit up the stage left side of the curtain, only furthering the excitement of what was to happen next.
Via Facebook, the band had mentioned they were going to be changing things up for this show and the ones to follow, pulling out some songs that had been absent recently, and just re-working their overall show, which whet the appetites of the fans.
The three Ryan’s, Scherschell on drums, Byrd on guitar and Ragus on bass, got the show going, busting out an intense instrumental piece, which eventually gave way to their first song.
“The road is so cold, but every night you walk alone…” sang frontman Cameron Taylor, who rushed on stage just as “Desert Blood” got underway. It had been far too long since I had heard my favorite SOB song live, and, at least for me, was the ultimate beginning to their show. I would imagine many others had similar feelings, though, seeing as they amassed several dozen fans in front of the stage, all of whom were getting into it.
“Dallas, how do you feel?” Cameron asked the crowd (or something along that line) after they finished that song, setting up their most recent single, “How Do You Feel?”. The pulsating rhythm section Ragus and Scherschell create incited some dancing from many of the fans, who were only getting more engrossed by the show with each passing second.
Focus then turned back to 2010’s “Your Ghost”, an album that at one point during the night Cameron urged anyone who might not have it to pick it up when they were done. The song they did was “From Now On”, but they had changed it up a bit, specifically how at one point towards the end Scherschell launched a drum stick at Ragus, who caught it and began hitting the bass strings with it. It was all done very cleanly, and while it had clearly been rehearsed, there was still some spontaneity to it. Afterwards, the fans were presented with another question, and that was, “Are you ready to push it?”
After so many so years of doing, their rendition of Salt-N-Pepas’ “Push It” has become a staple of every SOB show, as well it should. They’ve made it into a solid rock song, putting their own spin on it, and it’s arguably the most fun song they do.
“…I think it’s time we do a new one.” Ragus remarked during the next break, while Cameron went and got his guitar. He joked that he wasn’t sure they as a band were ready to do a new one, though, despite the fans being eager for a taste of what they’ve been working on. Nevertheless, they still did a new one, which if I heard correctly, was titled “Bon Voyage”. Compared to their previous music, it had a slightly different sound, though in the end it came across as being more cohesive than even what they’ve done it=n the past, as well as a little more mature and even original sounding. It’s already been three years since their last record, and the wait for new recorded SOB music will be longer still, but if they keep writing songs like this one, then they’ll probably be breaking some new ground with their next record.
Cameron went back to being the frontman of the group for another fan favorite, “What You Became”. “Hand up!” he instructed as they hit the bridge, causing the audience to throw a hand up in the air and wave it side to side on the bridge, “…It’s true we like you better when you fail.” Afterwards, the hits just kept coming, the band segueing directly into “Retro”, repeating the drum stick throw that had been done earlier in their set, as Ragus again rocked out on his bass by using a drum stick to play it, while Cameron got another hand wave going.
A nice instrumental outro ended the song, bleeding into a sample track that Scherschell added some beats to, before the other Ryan’s joined in. When Cameron returned to the stage, he again had his guitar in hand. All of that made for the most flawless transition of their set, as they gradually started “The Watcher”, before eventually ending with the only song an SOB show should end with, “Virus”. “…Where do we go from here? All the way down…” the crowd shouted near the end of the song, being the only ones doing the singing at that time, before Secret of Boris closed out the song and their 39-minute long set.
I have to say, this was one of the best SOB shows I’ve seen in a long time, and quite possibly one of the best yet.
Everything in the performance was so fine-tuned and polished, even more so than usual, and the chemistry was most impressive, and even Ryan Byrd, the bands newest member, meshed even better than he had with them when I last saw them a few months before.
There’s no question they’re one of the more original bands currently in the North Texas music scene, and the talent to go well beyond the metroplex is certainly there.
Next up, SOB will be at Reno’s on Halloween night (Thursday October 31st), playing alongside Serosia, which will no doubt be an epic night. Over on their REVERBNATION PAGE you can score some FREE downloads of some of their music, and if you dig that, be sure to go into iTUNES and buy “Your Ghost”.
Taking the late slot was White Elephant, a band who had been fairly quite since releasing their debut EP about two months previously, a show that I regrettably missed due to being sick. I was quite excited about making that up, though, and even though this night wouldn’t be the same experience as their CD release show, it was bound to be pretty close.
Before the curtain even opened drummer Ben Rhodes counted them into “Another Rapture Missed”, a deafening wall of sound suddenly emitting from the speakers as he laid into the full kit, while Matthew Miller and Josh Armstrong’s guitar and bass, respectively, roared to life. Pete Thomas was also already in show mode, head banging to the music before grabbing hold of the mic stand, belting out, “Here we go it’s all another rapture missed. The ash and snow, another rapture missed…”
It may have been late, but after that explosive start it became evident that wasn’t going to impede them, and shortly after finishing it Matt began plucking at the strings of his guitar, leading them into the next song of their 39-minute long set. Upon finishing it, Pete took a moment to thank Secret of Boris, while also incorporating his brand of humor. “…They were sucking me off before the show.” he remarked, before they unleashed another dose of heavy, hard rock on the dozen or so people who still remained.
During an instrumental break on that third song, Pete motioned for everyone to give him a moment, before spitting into the air. His intention was to catch it back in his mouth, though it didn’t get enough air time, and by the time he darted over to where it was it had hit the ground, as he shrugged it off. The barrage of delicious brutally heavy music continued with the lead track from the band’s debut EP, “Greatest Hits, Vol. 1”, “October 5th”. Pete left the stage at one point on it, getting out in the crowd and roaming about. The numbers weren’t there to start a mosh pit as he usually does, though he still pushed his way through the people, before returning to the stage at the tail end of the track.
They marched on with the following track from the record, “Coriolanus”, which is a real heavy hitter, and Josh and Ben seemed to make the rhythm section even more intense than usual on it. As they prepped for their next number, Pete again joked with the fans, saying this was about four hours past his bedtime, and continued with the jokes about his age. “…Take your vitamins, kids, and when you’re pushing fifty you, too, can look as good as Pete Thomas.” he said after raising the question of if anyone else could look as good when they got to his age.
Everybody got a kick out of that, and once the laughter subsided, Matt led them into “Song For The Sick And Hopeless” with his tranquil intro to the song. A couples skate followed it, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it was any slower than their previous music, and before getting it going Pete told everyone at the back to, “…Get your dick out of your hand and come up front.”, and some of the people met the request.
As things wound down, they did another killer song (one of my favorites they did), before hitting one that Pete noted was a favorite of his to do, “Girls That Fight Are Beautiful”. His guttural screams of “…Take this and start a fight…” near the end really help accentuate the track, which is a true beast. Afterwards, they had just one left, and Ben began dishing out the hefty beats that open up “Kill The Headlights And Drive”, which concluded the night nicely.
They may not have had the biggest crowd of the night, but those who were there left wowed by White Elephant, who is one of those bands that never ceases to amaze.
The raw energy they pack into their performance is something else completely, with Josh and Matt really throwing down, and Ben was even better worked in than he had been the last time I saw them, absolutely killing it on the drums. As for Pete, he could easily run circles around frontmen half his age, and has a very potent stage presence that, in combination with the rest of the group, will make sure your eyes never leave the stage until they play the final note of the last song.
Their next show is going to be on October 25th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and check out their debut EP on their BANDCAMP page.
I know Pro Rehearsals has put on a few showcases at the Curtain over the years, but this was the first one I’ve attended, and I must say, they know how to put together a great show with some fine talent.
It had been just a little over a month since DFW Undercover put on their first showcase which featured some acoustic singer/songwriters, and this night, they were ready to turn it up a few notches.
They had put together a full-blown rock show at Hailey’s this night, which doubled as a birthday bash.
I got there a little late, just barely missing the first band, Vandfald, who quickly got their gear off stage as Manny the Martyr began the process of setting up.
Before they started, Bill Pierce of DFW Undercover got on stage to thank everyone for coming out and try (to no avail) to get the people over by the bar to come into the showroom. He also introduced his wife, saying, “…She just turned eighteen. Yes, I like ‘em young.” he joked (this was her “dirty thirty” birthday bash.) He bantered with the audience for a few moments longer, then ceded the stage over to the band.
The 42-minute long set was easily the longest of the night, encompassing old and new songs from their forthcoming album, one of those being the bouncy opener “Aydagee”. It literally had some of the band bouncing around, too, guitarist Mike Ubben and frontman Jake Cravens jumping as they spun around in circles at times, and it was that fun and energetic demeanor that got so much of the crowd ensnared in their live show.
Drummer Joel Simka segued the end of that song into their next one with a few smooth beats, and upon finishing it they did one that Jake said was a little more personal to him. Once they knocked that one out, they ran into a technical difficulty, or rather Brad Green did while trying to tune his guitar. It easily could have turned into a few minutes of possible awkward silence, but thanks to bassist Jayson Vaughn, that didn’t happen. He proceeded to riff on his bass, doing a sweet little solo, eventually being joined by Joel, and even Mike added a few notes, too.
Jake noted that was not planned, even joking(?) that, that was how they came up with the closing parts for all their other tracks. “Some of you may not know this…” he said, mentioning they had recently wrapped up recording their first ever full-length record, and now they were going to do the single from it. “It’s called Left Over Sexy.” Jake informed everyone, as they busted out another stellar song.
They followed it up with what was somewhat of a treat, being a song from their debut EP, “The Aqua Lung”, which Jake pointed out they hadn’t done in awhile. “DDJ” was the song, and like all their others it’s a very interesting and unique blend of rock, pop and reggae, and is possibly one of the best tracks that EP has to offer.
Once it was done, Jake picked up where Bill Pierce had left off, again trying to get the bar flies over into the show room area, and still had no luck at it. That didn’t affect anyone’s mood, though, and they only worked things into more of a frenzy with their next song, and afterwards did a “brand, brand new” one. “We wrote this five minutes before the show.” joked Jake, saying the song was called “DFW Undercover Rocks”. Everyone was anxiously waiting to hear it, when Jake added, “That’s it. That was the song.”
He was pretty good at the wisecracks, and after doing a killer new jam, “Sink or Swim”, he made another. “This song’s about smoking.” he said, setting up “Bougyman”. “And if for even a second you thought I meant cigarettes, than this song is not for you.” he finished. It’s one of the most reggae sounding songs they do, from the music bed to the style Jake sings it in, making it pretty authentic, and they even got the audience to sing along for part of it.
With six minutes left in their set, they went ahead and ended it, closing with the final song from their first EP, “Hit the Brink”.
Even though it was a very full performance, the crowd was left hungry for more, and clearly loved every single second the band had spent on stage.
That’s one of the charms they have, being able to reel most people in easily with their signature sound and explosive live show. It really is very captivating, and I think they were even better this time around then the first time when I saw them, Jake doing some different things with his voice on a couple of songs, screaming at times in a manner that could compete with some metal bands.
For those like me who missed the first act, Manny the Martyr offered a very fun start to the night, and made sure it be hard to top, too.
You can check out the band’s debut EP on their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can download it (plus some live cuts) for free. As for their next record, you’ll have a chance to get it on December 7th when they celebrate their CD release show at the Curtain Club in Dallas.
The stage was vacant after they got their gear off, as the ears of all the attendees were about to get a break, and the next act was more visually stimulating.
It was a performance from the Whiskey Tongue Burlesque troupe, which featured Tippsy Cupps and the Pumpkin Patch Revue.
I’m not in the business of reviewing burlesque shows, but I will say all the performers (most of whom did two routines) were entertaining to watch, making it a little dark at times, though it was definitely fun overall.
It broke up the night well, and once the ladies finished their performance, it was time for the last band of the night.
Idler was closing out this show, doing their final show of the year, and they had a decent amount of fans who came out to see them one more time in 2013.
This show also saw the band getting back to basics, with frontman Micah Frank focusing solely on being a frontman, rather than acting as the rhythm guitarist as he has at their more recent shows.
However, Ritchie Rangel took the stage before any of his other band mates, blazing through a rip-roaring drum solo on his sizable drum kit, the remaining five members filing on stage as it trailed off.
They began with one of the newer tracks they’ve cooked up for their next record, “Underneath Me”, which was largely sung by frontwoman Katie Frank, her brother adding the occasional backing vocals in the mix while he banged his head around to the music. Mykey O’Neil also had a sweet guitar solo during that one.
“This next one’s called Vendetta.” Micah informed everyone, before they started the intense rocker with the awesome chorus, “Don’t cross me again. It all comes back in the end. I wrote it all down to come back and then rub your face in this.”, which he belts out with a certain amount of anger in his voice. It was soon followed by another song of their self-titled EP, “Go for Broke”, which was the song this night that really showcased what a finely tuned band Idler is. The siblings traded off on vocal duties incredible precision, backing each other up at times, while Katie handled parts of the chorus, all of it being very fluid.
Another song that they co-sang and features some nice vocal work is “Lose Control”, which came next, and once they finished it the band started chatting amongst themselves and the crowd. Somehow, (as a joke) everyone began booing guitarist Nick Laracuente, who was doing a excellent job on the guitar by the way, having previously been the bands bass player, while they have since added a new bassist to the lineup. But I digress. It was all a joke, especially since his band members were egging on the boos, and afterwards Micah tried to see how far he could take it, asking the crowd to chant, “Hey”, which didn’t pan out.
They continued barreling through their 32-minute set with a personal favorite of mine, “Kings and Queens”, before getting to their much loved cover song. Perhaps the best thing about it was how it started, Micah suddenly transitioning from talking to the crowd to hitting that falsetto note that starts the Kenny Loggins classic, “Highway To The Danger Zone”. His band mates soon joined in, and he and Katie again shared the singing responsibilities, which is exactly what makes their cover of that song so unique.
It’s a definite standout, and so, too, is their original, “Pitchfork”, and sticking with the idea of saving the best for last, they wrapped tings up with one more new one, “Cigarette”, which gives all their other material a real run for its money.
Out of the handful of times I’ve seen Idler, this was easily the best show I’ve caught yet. A main reason for that is because of how they have returned to their roots, and while the fact that they use a male and female vocalist is a big thing that sets them apart from other bands, an equally as big part was that Micah and Katie were a frontman and frontwoman, respectively. And their live show has been kicked up a few notches now that he’s no longer the guitarist.
This was a great show for Idler to end the year on, and I’ll bet that when they make their comeback in 2014, they’ll be better than ever.
So, until then, head over to iTUNES and pick up a copy of their EP, “Idler”, and you can also get that cover tune they do for FREE HERE.
It was a great night at Hailey’s, and compared to the last few times I’d been to the venue, the place was packed, which was good to see.
Kudos to DFW Undercover for putting together such an awesome and unique show this night, and while the bands did differ in style, they meshed well, and kept everyone watching entertained. Be sure to hit up their OFFICIAL WEBSITE & their YOUTUBE CHANNEL to watch the interviews they’ve done with some local artists, and I must say, I’m already curious and looking forward to what their next showcase is going to be like.
It had been over a year and a half since I last saw the Austin based folk outfit Wild Child in Dallas (having caught them at SXSW earlier this year), and this night was going to be a big one for the band.
Two days prior to this show at the Prophet Bar, the band released their highly anticipated sophomore record, “The Runaround”, making this the Dallas CD release show for the new album, and their Dallas fans were ready to partake in the festivities.
The lone opening act on this show was Prophets and Outlaws, who played a mix of new and old songs during their 39-minutes on stage, along with some covers.
It was one of those newer songs that they opened with, before doing a song that singer and guitarist Matt Boggs said was their “ode to Elvis”. It was the shorter “Honey Child”, which certainly could have gotten a lot of hips shaking about, though there were only a handful of people up front actually dancing to the soulful, bluesy song. Next came one of their covers, and it was a well known classic, made famous by The Band.
They did a brilliant rendition of “The Weight”, utilizing every vocalist in the band, which was most of them. Drummer James Guckenheimer, bassist Matt Murrow, guitarist Stevie G and keyboard player Jamie Ringholm all sang a different verse of the song, coming together and harmonizing on the chorus, along with Matt, even doing it in rounds to add a distinctive flare to it.
“Do y’all want to hear a brand new song?” Matt asked the decently sized crowd, though most of them seemed indifferent to it. All the same, they rolled things right along into a new one, and after another track, they broke out another cover. I believe it was a version of Ray Charles’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor”, with a little more of a rock spin on it, and Matt has a certain quality to his voice that allowed them to pull it off.
“This is our best one, in my opinion.” Matt stated before they broke into the lead track from their self-titled debut EP, “Soul Shop”, a rather relaxing song. “We’re gonna need some howls on this next one.” said Matt, noting it was a newer song they were thinking about releasing around Halloween. A few of the onlookers answered his request, doing a wolf howl once or twice during the song, and once it was finished they had just enough time left for one more tune.
I’ll say that for what they do, Prophets and Outlaws pull of the style exceedingly well. However, after seeing this full band show and an acoustic one a few months back, I have to say that their music just isn’t what I care for.
It just doesn’t grab me and strike a chord in me or anything. That’s all relative, though, and if you like a mix of soul and blues, that have slightly more of a country sound, then this is definitely the band for you.
They have two EP’s you can check out and purchase in iTUNES. As for shows, they tend to keep fairly busy, and on October 31st they’ll be at the City Tavern in Dallas, with a show on November 1st at Grotto Live in McKinney. For more tour dates, check out their REVERBNATION PAGE.
They hastily cleared their gear off, while Wild Child began the process of setting up, and by the time they were ready to go, singer and baritone ukulele player Alexander Beggins asked for everyone to get a little closer. Apparently, the band has made a lot of area fans since I first saw them, as the majority of the people who were scattered around the bar and elsewhere made their way right up front.
They began with a joke, though it didn’t start out that way as singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson first mentioned how early they had to be up this morning in order to perform on one of the local morning shows on one of the TV stations. She pointed out getting up that early made her want to punch people, but she did alright, only punching one news woman. “…But she only made it through the first half inch of her makeup…” Alexander chimed in, the crowd, along with his band mates erupting in laughter.
That was a great way to break the ice, and with there being no way to top that, they promptly started the show with the title track and lead song from this new album, “The Runaround”, a very fun song that got everyone moving around at least a little. “How are you doing this fine Thursday eve?” Alexander asked the fans, which spurred a conversation between band mates as Kelsey stated she always hopes it really is Thursday when he asks that question.
After bantering (mainly) amongst themselves for a moment, they got back to the music, hitting their more tender side with the second track on the record, “Victim to Charm”. The violin and cello, which was played by Sadie Wolfe, worked together harmoniously at the start of that one, “Dear, don’t be alarmed, as I trace the freckles on your porcelain arm…” Alexander sang softly into the mic. It’s a beautiful line for an equally beautiful song, that also featured some nice harmonies from the two vocalists.
Those new ones were well received, though the fans almost turned into rabid animals when Kelsey said they were going to do some old ones, clearly eager to hear the ones they knew and loved. That collective mood of excitement shot through the roof as Alexander played the opening notes of “The Escape”, the audience singing right along with Kelsey and Alexander, whose voices layered over each other’s nicely. “Lost my breath, I’m feeling weak, my bones escape my skin…” everybody sang, the fans obviously ecstatic that this favorite of theirs was still in the setlist. They took things down a few notches with “Silly Things”, and while the rhythm section was lighter, it was still pretty powerful, Chris D’Annunzio lightly plucking the strings of his bass, which caused the floor to vibrate at times. The crowd again proved their love for Wild Child and their music, loudly singing along to the final line, “…Come get your coffee pot, ‘cause it hasn’t been used since I last used you.”
The band appeared a bit surprised by all the love they were getting, and now pointed out that this was the first crowd they had played to since “The Runaround” came out just two days prior to this. And now, having done the first two tracks from both their new and old albums, it was time to get back to some newer stuff with the first single from “The Runaround”.
Kelsey informed anyone who didn’t know that they had just released a music video for the song “Crazy Bird”, saying it was “weird”, which could be a big understatement. However, while the video is weird, the song itself is not, and both will leave a lasting impression on you. It was fun and upbeat, being an irresistible song that will immediately put you in a happy mood.
Speaking of happy mood, Kelsey said they had picked up a new motto from their friends in Prophets and Outlaws backstage. “You can only have as much fun as you want to have.” she said, Alexander adding those were “words of wisdom”. It is true, and they and the crowd were prepared to have as much fun as possible this night, and not much could be more fun than a “butt grabbing song”, which was exactly what Kelsey said t he next one was. Not much of that was going on as they busted out another slow one, “This Place”, though, Evan Magers adding some soft, subtle notes from his keyboard at parts, while Carey McGraw kept a slow and steady beat going on the drums.
That slow tune transitioned well into “Stitches”, which at first didn’t come across as what Kelsey said was their “new favorite party song”, but once it got going, it clearly was a fitting party tune. As soon as it concluded they seamlessly launched into another old one, “Bridges Burning”, the audience echoing along with Kelsey, “…Wait for me, I want you to wait for me…” “Y’all are tripping me out!” she exclaimed after finishing the song, still seeming a bit baffled by all the love. The audience was then presented with a choice of either getting a new fast one or an old fast one, which was “Cocaine Hurricane”. It was unanimous, and the choice was that old fan favorite, which is still a highlight of their shows.
Their 53-minute long set was nearing its end, and they still had a couple more new ones to do, one of which was the instant classic, “Living Tree”. “You guys are my favorite people in the whole wide world.” remarked Kelsey after they finished the song, still overwhelmed by it all, and they began to wind things down with the final track on the new album, “Left Behind”.
There was only one fitting way to close to the show, though, and that was with the final number from 2011’s “Pillow Talk”, the haunting, “Tale of You & Me”. “Sleep good and hold tight. Just know that’ll make it right.” the whole band shouted repeatedly at the end, creating the greatest sing along moment of the night, the entire crowd joining them, making for the best possible end to what was surely Wild Child’s best Dallas show yet.
This was quite the night, and Wild Child is quite the band. The duel vocalists and the way they constantly change things up, from both Kelsey and Alexander singing lead, to incorporating some dynamic harmonies and even singing in time with one another are what make them standout so much. And while those two do tend to be the main focus of the show, the rest of the group is of course just as vital a part, and contribute a lot to the energy they have.
On that note, it was their older songs that they did that were the most cohesive and flawless. That’s nothing against their new material, but you could tell those oldies had been performed hundreds of times over and they’d developed such chemistry for them, while some of the newer ones they still haven’t worked out all the movements.
In the end, though, it’s easy to see why the band just performed at Austin City Limits (doing a gig at the festival a couple days after this Dallas date), and why they’re creating such buzz. And the way folk music is becoming such a big thing currently in mainstream music, and given the unique and fresh spin Wild Child puts on their tunes, it’s believable that they have a shot at making it.
Wild Child will be on the road until the end of the year, doing shows from the East Coast to the West Coast and several states in between, and for all those dates go HERE. And do check out both of their albums in iTUNES, and if you dig ‘em, definitely buy them.
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.