Friday, February 14th, 2014 – Another Lost Year

Of course, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be spent with the ones you love, and for me that meant spending it with live music at the venue I love more than any other, The Curtain Club.

Ultimate Local Music had put together a stellar rock show there this night, including bringing a band from Charlotte, North Carolina through. Four great local acts had been added on in support, though, and starting the night was Awake in Theory.

It had been quite awhile since I last saw the alt/rock group; last June to be exact. That meant it had been long enough that I had forgotten some of their song titles. So, after their intro – which is the “Mad as Hell” speech from the 1976 film Network – I was left racking my brain as to what their opener was.

The catchy, occasional riffs guitarist Terry Kimmel cranked out by stepping on one of his pedals before letting it back up were all too familiar, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the song. It was only towards the end when I heard frontman Eric Hawkens sing, “…You’re playing the victim…”, with the name of the song being “Playing the Victim”.

The whole band didn’t waste any time getting down to business, especially bassist John Skenesky, who was all over the stage; tearing it up. “How the hell you doing?!” Eric asked all the early birds who had made it there for their 8:46 start time. As he did so, Raymond Chambers brought them right into their next song, which was “Dangerous”. “…You’re like a devil with an angels touch. I want to love you but you’re dangerous.” belted Eric on the chorus. After the second one, he signaled out guitarist Brad McCain, who launched into an incredible guitar solo; sounding even better life than it does on the recording.

They continued to barrel through their 31-minute set as Raymond again led them into their next song. Brad aided him, lacing some soft guitar notes around the beats while Eric set up their next track. “This one goes out to anyone who had to do what I had to do in the last year, and that’s take someone you love to rehab and say ‘No more! No more!” he told the audience, shaking his finger back and forth as he said that last part. He was speaking of “Let Go”, which is just one of more than a few heavy-hitting songs they have with very real life themes worked in. The end had been tweaked from what I remembered (or perhaps had just forgotten).

Raymond counted them in on one of the many cymbals of his massive drum kit; but it wasn’t a bridge to their next number. Instead, they cranked out an instrumental outro, which saw John getting on the drum riser before leaping off it as the song drew to a close.

“Anyone who has ever played in Deep Ellum knows it’s a band of brothers and sisters…” Eric said. He thanked Deaf Angel for being one of the bands they were playing with, along with the handful of other band members and people who were there who had just come out to see them. It was nice to hear him say that, too, because it really is a community down here. It may not be the biggest or strongest community it has ever been. but there is a lot of loyalty and dedication among those who are part of it.

“…Do y’all want to hear a new one?” Eric asked before they moved on to a song called “Monday's Dawn”. It struck me as being a little heavier than their other songs at times. I mean that solely as an observation; and actually, I really enjoyed it, because it was a slightly different sound for the guys. A sound they pulled off well.

“We wrote that for Terry’s best friend, who five years ago died in his arms.” Eric said as soon as the song was over, making the mood a bit heavy. His band mates were already easing into their next song, while Eric noted that if anyone had seen them even once before that they had to know that his brother is a Ranger in the Army. “…He fights our battles so we can do stupid shit like this…” he told everyone; setting them up for “Hero You Hate”.

“…I can be your sinner. I can be your saint…” Eric sang, using one of his hands to draw a halo around his head. He then continued, “I’ll be anything you want, because I’m the hero that you hate.” That was the only song of the night he actually used his mic stand for the majority of it. He ditched it near the end, though.

“The setlist says to work the crowd.” he said after that fan-favorite; then asked everyone quite sincerely, “So, how are you doing?”

Eric killed some time while Terry and Brad tuned their guitars, and once they were ready he dedicated the next song to “everyone celebrating with significant other”. He skipped over the explanation of “Innocence”, only seeing that it was a very personal song to them. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and since they recorded it, it has grown on me with each listen. It really is a special song.

Their time on stage was almost up, and Eric bantered with the crowd one last time before their final song. He mentioned he had just finished a 60-hour workweek. “…I’m exhausted but I’m here. ‘Cause if you’re gonna do it, you do it big, right?” he said.

That’s just one of the many reasons why I love these guys; because that’s their mentality. Eric mentioned this final song has gotten some airplay on 97.1 The Eagle over the last several months, saying it be “cool” if anyone wanted to call in and request it. They then fired up their first single, “Daddy’s Little Girl”. John and Terry stood back-to-back for a bit at the start of the second verse, before digging back in as the song exploded on the chorus, the two of them along with Brad and Eric covering every spot on the stage.

I know it been awhile since I had caught an Awake in Theory show, and perhaps I had just forgotten how fantastic they are live, but they really seemed better this night than any other time I had seen them.

Last time, John was still a pretty new addition to the band, but even then meshed well with the group and more than held his own on stage with them. Tonight, at times, he was the one to watch on stage.

That’s not to undercut the other guys, though. Brad, Terry and Eric didn’t slow down for a second, and were doing everything they could they keep the onlookers glued to them. They accomplished that with ease, and they’re one of those bands who works to build an honest rapport with the crowd for the night. Not only that, but they clearly have so much fun on stage, it makes it easier to get into their music and performance.

Point is, if you have a chance to see them, do it.

They have to shows at Tomcats West in Fort Worth in March. One will be on March 8th, the other the 22nd. Pick up their 3 song EP at either of those shows, or you can preview their music on REVERBNATION.

Second up was one of two bands who I hadn’t seen before. Since the other band was a touring act, that’s understandable. But Generation Wasted is a hometown Dallas band. A band who just a few weeks prior played the Curtain’s 16th year anniversary weekend; where they received a plaque that now proudly hangs on the Wall of Fame.

I had heard of them before, but just never seen them. I was interested to see what they were like, though.

“Happy Valentine’s Day.” Frontman Larry Bates stated as soon as the curtain opened on them.

They then quickly tore into “Eyes”, which began their 41-minute set. It was a powerful opener, and it called me to the pit area to have a better view of what was going to transpire.

“I didn’t think you were going to make it tonight.” Larry said once the song was over, talking to his significant other. He then walked over to the stairway that leads on stage; returning with a heart shaped box he handed to his lady.

They continued with a food little tune called “Curtain Call”; after which bassist Mark Efros walked over and slapped lead guitarist Wes Mayes on the ass. “Good job!” he could be heard shouting, before laughter from the crowd and the band filled the room.

“…This next one’s called Tailspin.” Larry informed everyone. That song was where I thought they really found their groove. They weren’t as mobile as the band before them, but they still commanded the attention of their fans with their music, and that tune was truly one of their best.

After some shots, Larry again wished a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone. “…This is a cover we like do…” he then said. Their fans rejoiced in cheers, while I was left with a feeling of curiosity as to what it would be. “It’s called Mad World.” Larry added.

They put their own spin on the Tears for Fears classic, turning it into a heavier rock song. It was an excellent rendition of it, and it’s always nice to see a band who doesn’t merely cover a song, but they put the effort into making it all their own.

They followed it by doing a new one. So new in fact, that upon finishing it Larry joked that it was simply titled “new one” for now. “I don’t know if that will change or not.” he added.

“Illiterate Love” was another great song of their set. It was one of their fairly heavier songs, with some slight screams thrown in here and there.

They marched on with a couple more songs, one of which was titled “Control; Alt; Delete”. During it, guitarist Ernest Fruge, who had been adding some awesome backing vocals throughout the show, left the stage. He worked his way out amongst the people, walking up to some fans who were standing there, as well as other patrons who were seated at the tables, giving them a good look as he picked away at his axe.

It was also on that song that they all really cut loose, fully giving into the music and rocked out.

Larry now took a moment to shout out the other bands on the bill, before they got to the finally two demos that they currently have recorded.

You can’t argue that they had saved the best for last, as “On My Own” was a spectacular number. One that’s sure to appeal to any rock fan. Then you had “Circles”, which found the quintet truly firing on all cylinders. Ernest again added some backing vocals to this one, repeatedly shouting, “Hate!” on the chorus. Larry worked up a vicious scream of sorts, joining him on the final one of each chorus for a forceful touch.

They put on a really good show. One that just kept getting better the more time they spent on stage, and they have some truly awesome sounding songs.

I became a Generation Wasted fan this night. And it was also nice seeing a Dallas band whom I hadn’t before. Yeah, there are plenty of bands I’m still unfamiliar with who are out there, but I often tend to stick with the tried and true.


Check out their music over on REVERBNATION, and if you like it go see a show. They too will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 8th. They’ll be down in Austin for SXSW on March 12th, playing the Heart of Texas Rockfest. You can also see them back in Dallas on March 18th at Wit’s End.

Up next, you had As Above / So Below.

I had only seen them once, catching a portion of their debut show back in May.

Since then they’ve released their debut EP, “Year One”, as well as added an extra member to the band, CJ Pierce of Drowning Pool fame, who also happens to the be the brother of frontman Jacob Pierce.

“Come on!” Jacob roared as the curtain revealed them, while drummer Joey Payow, bassist Johnny Reeves, and CJ as well as fellow guitarist Max Snakes fired up their first song, “Last Crusade”. That heavy rock song, which, like most of their other music is on the verge of being metal, got their show off to a great start, easily capturing the interest of everyone who was there.

Jacob quickly encouraged everyone to support the bar and go buy a drink, then added, “Let’s go!” as Joey rolled them into their next track.

They had the adrenaline of everyone there pumping at this point, and it continued with “Painted in Red”. Afterwards, Jacob mentioned it was Valentine’s Day. “…We’re all getting fucked up and having good time!” said Jacob, before informing everyone that the next song was “Built to Fail”.

“We’re gonna slow it down for the lovers.” Jacob said, speaking about the next tune they had in store. I believe it was called “Calling”, and while it was a favorite of mine from their set, it was by no means slow. Perhaps it was just a little more so than their other material, but not by much. They followed it with another song I highly enjoyed, “Erase You”, after which came a new one.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done this live.” Jacob told everyone, noting the song was called “Ritual Birth”.

Even by As Above / So Below’s standards this was a heavy and loud song. It was good though, and saw CJ adding a good deal of backing vocals. Jacob also put the flood lights to good use, which were hooked up to a switch on a box they had on stage. He often stepped on it in synch with the drums too, which added an extra emphasis to it.

“We pulled it off. That was cool.” Jacob remarked once it was over, before they started into the final song of their 32-minute long set.

These longtime musicians were great at their first show, but in the almost nine months since, they’ve further improved.

The show was chocked-full of energy and they put on a great show. Even with their large scrims standing on either side of the stage they still had plenty of room to move around. Then you had CJ, who helps elevate their live show to a completely new level.

They’ll be at the Walter Gerrels Performing Arts Center in Carlsbad, New Mexico on March 8th and March 9th will find them at Jake’s Backroom in Lubbock, Texas. They’ll be opening for Saving Abel on both of those shows.


Though technically it was the main support slot, the Charlotte, North Carolina based Another Lost Year had the prime time slot.

Like most people in attendance, they were new to me, though the band has been around for a little while. Nearly three years, actually, during which time they’ve opened for acts like Sick Puppies, Sevendust and many others.

They got right into it with “Better Days”, which is the lead and title track from their most recent release.

It was quickly evident they weren’t your typical band; and while I had been hanging out at the back of the venue, it didn’t take me long to decide to get closer to the stage.

“Dallas, Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted singer Clinton Cunanan, while his band mates wound them into their next number, “All That We Are”. Their first song add some softer tones to it, and while it sounded good, it was far from the caliber of rock song as this one was. They really came to life on this one, with some driving percussion thanks to Lee Norris and killer guitar riffs from Dave Whitaker and Adam Hall, which included a wickedly good solo.

“So, a lot of cool things have came from Dallas.” Clinton said, as they took a break to connect with the fans. “Like Emmitt Smith.” he added. “I don’t know if any of you got that joke.” he said once no one laughed. Talk then changed to wrestling, when he asked if anyone was a fan of the WWE. “This next song can be heard on Monday Night RAW.” he told everyone. The song was “Broken”, and they were in full swing rock mode with it. It had those who were familiar with them singing along, while those who were just enjoying what they were hearing where banging their heads around to the music.

The banter then continued when Clinton asked everyone to turn to their left and right and introduce yourself to the people next to you. “It’s kinda like church.” he joked, before going on to thank all the bands who were playing alongside them. He was honest, saying he didn’t remember any of their names, though he also mentioned that he had never seen such a “fantastic bill”. “…There’s a lot of fucking talent here…” he told the audience, saying everyone needed to be proud of the fact that they lived in a town with such an amazing music scene.

They mellowed things out a little more with “Last Goodbye”, and now that everyone had gotten a good taste of what they were, Clinton asked a couple of questions. One was “Has anyone heard of Another Lost Year before tonight?” A few hands shot up. The other was for those who were hearing of them for the first time this night, and it was, “If we came back, would you come back to see us?” They didn’t have the biggest crowd, but those who were watching them seemed to all say they would catch another show if they made it to the Dallas area. “We’ll hold you to that.” he stated, as they went directly in to “Writing On the Wall”.

Upon finishing it, Clinton mentioned they were about to do some “new shit”. “…But for most of you, this is all probably new shit.” he joked. He went on to talk about their previous record label. “We had a mutual breakup…” he said, shaking his head no while saying it. “No, that’s not even remotely close…”

In short, their ex-label told them they would never do anything else without them, and the label had evidently lost faith in Another Lost Year. He gave the stats, which I don’t remember, but this next song they had – which was released independently – has gotten some good radio airplay for several consecutive weeks.

That latest single was “End of You and I”, and it was followed by a song they had recorded for possible use during the current Olympic games called “We Are the Chosen”. For one reason or another, it didn’t end up being used, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an awesome song.

It was actually different from anything else they did this night. There were some great harmonies thrown in throughout the song, but the best moment came at the end, when Adam, Jason and Clinton all sang the final few lines pretty much a cappella, which sounded surprisingly gorgeous. Not at all what you’d expect from an alt/rock band, but they pulled it off perfectly.

With that, they got into the songs that “pay the bills” as Clinton said. Though he first pimped out their merch table, saying they’d sell anything, including band members. He then told a story about the first single they ever released. “…I wrote it in shower…” Clinton told the fans, saying he got out and told one of his band mates what he had come up with, who replied with, “That’s horrible.”

If it was horrible then, they certainly made some good tweaks to it, ‘cause “War On the Inside” was one of their best songs yet.

They had one more left, but first Clinton quickly thanked everyone for coming out and supporting live and local music. “It’s not the Justin Bieber’s. It’s not the Miley Cyrus’s…” he said, referring to musicians who aren’t really doing much for music overall. “…Rock ‘n’ Roll lives and fucking breathes on these stages. In these venues…” he said, coming across as truly grateful that those who were there were doing what they could to support this art.

For the final song of their 41-minute set, they returned to the “Better Days” LP, doing the final track on it, “Forget About Us”. Simply put, they destroyed it on that one. Jason was jumping back and forth at the start while slaying it on his bass, and Adam and Dave were also getting very into it, operating along with Lees’ drumming. Speaking of Lee, while I didn’t often have an unobstructed view of him, I could see him pretty well on that song, as he twirled the drum sticks around in his hands; at one point quickly flipping them around before laying into his kit, doing that several times in a row.

If Another Lost Year came back to Dallas, would I go see them? Yeah, in a heartbeat.

For those who like the more radio-friendly style of rock music these guys are perfect, and they just have that quality to their sound that gives it a good appeal.

Then you have the live show, which is, without question, where they excel. They may have only been a band for about three years, but you can tell they cut their teeth long ago, and the show they put on this night – in terms of energy and overall performance - was on par with many of the national touring bands they’ve shared the stage with.

You can find their full tour schedule HERE. Also, be sure to check out their music in iTUNES.


Closing out the night was the Fort Worth quartet, Deaf Angel.

Despite the late start (it closer to 1AM when they took the stage), they still had droves of fans out, who quickly packed the place upon hearing Scott Van Slyke lay into his drum kit.

“Dallas fucking Texas! How the fuck you doing?!” shouted frontwoman Tina Downs as the curtain began to open on them. “I’ve been waiting all fucking night to get up here.” “This song’s called ‘Take Over.” she then added, as their 38-minute long set got underway.

It had only been a few months since the last time I had seen them, but I had already kind of forgotten how great they are live. Tinas’ voice is superb, and the screams Scott and guitarist Duston Daulton added throughout the track (plus just about every other song they did) added a nice edge to it.

“How you doing?!” Tina asked during the few second break before “Directions”. “…It’s my life, so step aside…” she belted out on the chorus, while bassist Matt Harper and Duston raced around the stage.

Once it was over, she mentioned how amazing this show was; and from start to finish it really had been an exceptional night. “Can y’all hear me?” Scott suddenly asked, speaking into his mic. “I don’t think they can.” said Tina after the crowd barely reacted. They did that another time or two, working over the audience, before saying their next song was “Crazy”.

That song title is also a fairly fitting description of the track, which is crazy good. As it neared the end, Matt jumped up on the drum riser, standing behind Scott - whose drum kit was sit up with the side facing the crowd – as they rocked out on the final moments of it.

“This. Is. The. Judge.” Scott said, striking one of the cymbals with each word, as they went right into the beast of a song. They then switched gears a bit, doing one of their songs that’s slightly more melodic, “Let You Go”. The heavier core metal sound of their music is still there in the drums, guitar and bass, just toned down some, which in turn highlights Tinas’ voice even more.

“…Who all’s drinking?” Tina asked when that song had come to an end. Oddly enough, not much noise was made, and only a few hands with drinks in them went up in the air. “Y’all need to drink more. This is what we do in Dallas, go to shows and get drunk.” she said.

While that was going on, one fan started to scream a request, and he only got more vocal about it when Scott announced it was a song they hadn’t done in a little while. They tried to play it off that it wasn’t “Mirrors of Malice”, but in the end, the guy called it. Duston added several more of his deathly screams on that one, before taking a backseat on their next song.

As they neared the first chorus of “Run to Me”, Jacob Pierce from As Above / So Below ran up on stage, taking over the microphone on stage right as he sang along with Tina, “…Don’t be afraid to walk away. Run to me!” He lent his vocal abilities to the song here and there, though it was primarily there on the chorus. Still, even when he wasn’t singing he was rocking out along to the music and pumping up the crowd, asking them to give it up for Deaf Angel.

“Who likes riding bikes? Who likes flying kites?” Scott asked jokingly before what wound up being their final song. Everything they had done was from the “Brutally / Beautiful” album, though their final song was the newest one they’ve written and recorded, “Through the Glass”.

Even though it’s new, it’s Deaf Angel at their best. The drums set up a great pace for the song, and Matt and Duston kept up with it, running about the stage. Well, Duston was when he could break away from the mic. It’s pulsating and hard hitting, and it made for a powerful finish to their 38-minute long set.

I may not see them too often, but Deaf Angel is really a superb band.

From the live show to the music and everything else, it’s clear there’s a lot of talent there. It’s harnessed, but still has that raw Rock ’n’ Roll quality to it.

Like I said, I don’t see them too often, but I really need to change that.

Check out their REVERBNATION page where you can download the entire “Brutally / Beautiful” album for FREE. As for shows, they’ll be back here at the Curtain Club on April 19th. On March 10th they have a hometown gig at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. Then, on March 19th they’ll be back in Dallas at The Boiler Room. Catch ‘em if you can.

To reiterate what Another Lost Year said; this really was a fantastic bill. Kudos to Ultimate Local Music for orchestrating such a great lineup of local talent, as well as bringing a killer touring band through town.

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 - Light the FIre’s Year End Dallas Blowout

The Curtain Club was hosting some heavier rock acts this night, most of whom were more on the metal side of things, including Light the Fire, who was doing their final Dallas show of the year.

Like Bridges We Burn opened up the night, and sadly I didn’t get there in time to see them. Well, at least not much of them. I did catch their final song, though, which frontman Jeff Nemec invited “Jefe”, as he said, or Jeff Gunter of Light the Fire on stage with them to help co-sing on the song, which made for a very fun way to end their show.

Check out their music in iTUNES (an EP and a couple of singles), and they do have one more show left for the year, on December 13th at the Prophet Bar in Dallas.

Up next was Deaf Angel, and upon taking the stage, frontwoman Tina Downs urged everyone to get closer. “…It’s cold outside.” Not many people needed that as incentive, though, as most of those who were there packed tightly around the stage, ready for the rock show to start.

Their shorter 27-minute long set began with the beast of a song, “Take Over”, which had many of their fans singing along to every word, a trend that continued for the duration of their time on stage. “This song’s called Directions.” Tina informed the audience, getting a few cheers from some who clearly loved the heavy song that had guitarist Duston Daulton often some very metal screams to it, echoing Tina near the end with a very throaty, “…I will not break down…”

The heavy assault continued with “Crazy”, after which drummer Scott Van Slyke sent them right into their next track. They had a couple more songs left, and like the previous ones they were from their newest album, “Brutally / Beautiful”, with things getting just a little more heartfelt with “Let You Go”, wit Tina seeming to put even a little more emotion into her singing on that one.

Before their last song, she took a moment to formally introduce their brand new bassist, Matt Harper, who had been killing it thus far with them, being a perfect fit for the band and their live show. The fans seemed to enjoy what he brought to the performance, too, and after that little welcome, they finished their show with the powerful, “Run to Me”.

It was a fantastic performance, with the only downside being that was over far too quickly.

It was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve seen yet, though (which in fairness has only been a handful of shows), and they just seemed more solid and cohesive then they’ve even been in the past. Scott and Matt created a vigorous rhythm section, without question being the backbone of every song they did, and I like the fact that Scott sets his kit up to the side, allowing the audience a better look at him as he plays. Dustin easily held everyone’s attention as well, from the deep screams he often made during the songs, and when he wasn’t adding any vocals, he was often seen standing atop one of the boxes they had borrowed from Light the Fire, shredding on his axe. While Tina has an incredible voice and knows how to put on a performance, too.

They’ll be back in Dallas on January 25th at The Boiler Room, and if you like free music, you can download their entire catalog at no cost over on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Following them was Light the Fire, who hadn’t played the Curtain since releasing their newest EP back in July, and what better venue to play your last Dallas show of the year in.

In typical Light the Fire fashion, they had some fun at the start of their show, the four instrumentalists bobbing their heads to a rap song that played before vocalist Jeff Gunter ran on stage, and they show got underway. “Now’s our time to step up to the plate…” he screamed after his band mates played the short intro into “Don’t Fail Me Now”, offering a great start to their set, as it almost effortlessly puts the crowd in a state of excitement. “Are you ready tonight?!” Jeff roared at the fans as lead guitarist Ryan Dickinson and drummer Blake Hein wound them into another track from their first record, and the title song, “Note To Self”.

Audience participation was a must on that one, Jeff asking everyone to get a hand up and wave it back and forth during the instrumental break, while bassist Andrew Penland repeatedly shouted, “Hey!”, into his mic. “How the fuck are you doing?!” Jeff asked once the song was finished, still working on pumping everyone up, especially when he didn’t get the desired result. “You can do better than that!” he shouted, prompting a louder response from the audience this time around, while the sample track intro for “Thoughts” soon started to play. Andrew, Ryan and rhythm guitarist Felix Lopez staggered themselves in a line during the first verse of that one, thrashing about not only in perfect synch with one another, but also the beats Blake was cranking out.

“…We’re from D town…” Jeff said during their next break, adding, “We are D town.” That then led to talk of their new shirts, which had the Texas flag on them, but instead of a lone star, it bore Light the Fire’s emblem, a flame. He then asked everyone who hailed from the state to make some noise. “Some of you must be from Oklahoma or something…” he cracked in order to get a better response. They then tackled one of their newer songs, “The Masquerade”, a great song about being something you’re not. The song has a “slow, pretty part” as Jeff put it, and when they hit it he requested everyone put up their lighters or cell phones, and of course the phones outnumbered the lighters as the people waved them around until the song picked back up. And as it did, before the song hit the final chorus, Andrew lifted his bass up a little, giving his strap some slack, before thrusting it down in perfect time with one of the drum beats.

“Let’s get some movement going!” said Jeff before they started one of their heaviest numbers, “Under My Skin”, their final old track before hitting a string of songs from their self-titled EP. Jeff mentioned that, because of everyone’s help, they were able to play the Dallas date of the Vans Warped Tour this summer (on the Ernie Ball Stage), joking about how sweaty it was, and saying they met a guy there who said he wanted to shoot a music video for them. “…And we were like, “Okay!” Jeff stated, saying the video they filmed was for their song “Forever Grateful”. “But we don’t call it that, do we?!” he asked saying the name it is known as live, “Thunder Cunt”. The fans were asked to throw up their own “thunder cunts”, by extending their index fingers and thumbs, touching each finger to its counterpart. “Holy shit, look at Blake’s…” Jeff pointed out, as he had thrown up his drumsticks in place of his index fingers. Despite the name they’ve given it for live shows, it’s a love song through and through, take for example a line from the bridge, “…I can’t help myself, I’m yours ‘til the end. You are my reason for breathing…”

During that new fan favorite (and a personal favorite of mine), Felix broke a string, which led to a little downtime, but they never lost any momentum, as the crowd patiently waited for more. “Does it still say “suck it” on it?” Jeff asked Felix, who had earlier in the night flipped his guitar over, revealing the back of the body had “Suck It” written on it. He flipped this one over too, and sure enough, it did.

“…Get your horns up!” shouted Jeff, who also got a little chant of “Hell yeah!” started before their next song, “All Or Nothing”, which featured Jeff Nemec of Like Bridges We Burn adding his vocal touches to the song, making it sound even better than it already is. Their 49-minute long set was coming to an end, and at this point, Jeff mentioned that his brother, who is in the military, had recently gotten to come home, something he was clearly ecstatic about, and while he had planned to come out to this show to see the band in action, weather prevented him from doing so. The heartfelt speech continued for a moment before he added, “…So, I want you to experience the love he and his army brothers have for one another by bashing into each other.” The mosh pits had been pretty tame this night as far as LTF shows go, with the most action breaking out during the inspiring tale that is told in “Stick To Your Guns”, which saw one of Blake’s drumsticks breaking during the second verse, before he hastily grabbed a replacement.

Their final song wasn’t one of theirs, at least not entirely, and Jeff dedicated it to all the single ladies in attendance, but when asking how many were single, only one woman made any noise. “…You’re probably going to be raped…” he replied, getting a laugh from nearly everyone in the club. They then launched into The Scorpions “No One Like You”, and while it isn’t an original, they put such a unique spin on the song, it is certainly their own, and one that is well received by their fans. The best touch to the song came rather unexpectedly at the end, when the final guitars and bass lines were dying down and the last drum beat resonated out, as Jeff sang one of the last lines a capella, adding a beautiful finish to it.

They put on a phenomenal show this night, and though I thought their CD release show would be a hard one to top, in some aspects they did this night. They’re such a well polished and cohesive band, which is what sets their live shows apart from other acts, and also the fact that they manage to inject so much fun into their shows, while still keeping the professional demeanor every band needs.

They really are a superb band, and hopefully 2014 will have even bigger things in store for the band.

They don’t have anything on the books right now, but they are one band who plays very consistently, and you probably won’t have to wait too long in to 2014 for them to rock a venue near you. But until that happens, be sure to check out both of their EP’s in iTUNES.

The main act for the night was Low Gear, a long running Dallas band whom I had heard of, but not yet seen.

They proved to be too hard and heavy for my tastes (which I know is slightly weird given the fact I love Light the Fire), but after sticking around for three to four songs I just wasn’t feeling it and went ahead and left.

There was also one act after them, Driven Below, and I had watched some videos of them online to learn that they too were far to metal to appeal to me.

All the same, it was a great lineup at the Curtain Club this night, even if some of the bands weren’t my style, and it was certainly worth getting out on this cold night to see one last Light the Fire show for the year.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 – Affiance

Torch Entertainment was presenting a show at the Curtain Club in Dallas this night, and I almost didn’t go to it. The reason being it was billed as a metal show, and any casual reader should know by now I’m not a real metal fan.

There are a few metal acts I enjoy, such as Dallas area based, Light the Fire, who was actually the catalyst for me wanting to go to this show, after they were added on semi last minute. I then gave a quick listen to the headlining band, Affiance, who proved to be a different type of metal than what I had expected. There was legitimate singing on their songs, unlike the throaty screaming that plagues the metal industry these days. I was thoroughly impressed after listening to their recorded stuff, and knew I had to be at the show to witness what they were like in the live environment.

First up this night was the Denton based metal act, Wake the Dreamless. With their first song, they proved to be better than I expected. They were a definite metal band, but vocalist, Joe Bustnaji, did equal amounts of singing in both a “clean” and “dirty” style, which kept my interest. They, or rather guitarist, Alex Reuda, had some slight technical difficulties after that song, but fixed it soon enough. “This next song’s called Polarized.” Said Joe, as Alex and fellow guitarist, Cameron Grantham, bassist, Josh Manalo, drummer, Neil Geisel, and keyboard player, David Kang, started the lengthy intro of the song. It was borderline epic, spanning over six minutes, and had a nice flow to it. The issues with Alex’s guitar still persisted at this point, causing the band to put things on hold while he fixed it. At one point he turned his amp back on, thinking the problem had been taking care of, only to have the venue filled with a barrage of ear piercing sounds before he quickly turned it off. Joe managed to use that as banter, though. “That’s our new wave of death metal. It’s just noise…” he said. Once that was fully resolved, they got their next song going, which was heavier than the previous two, and that only progressed with the next and final song of their 23-minute long set.

They were offered a chance to do one more, as they had some time leftover, but apparently those four songs were all they had planned for on this night, and had nothing else ready to pull out.

They were good. You could tell they were a newish band (according to their Facebook page they formed almost two years ago), and they never seemed like a truly cohesive unit, rather five guys who were all doing their own thing. The skill is there, though, they just need to bring it all together. I also found it an interesting choice that they had a keyboard player, since it doesn’t necessarily fit with the genre of music they play, and while I did find the guitars, bass and drums often overpowered the keys, when you could hear them, they added a nice layer to the music.

You can get a free download of their single, “Polarized”, by going HERE, and in the near future they will be releasing their newest EP.

After them was Light the Fire, who can often be seen headlining the Curtain Club, or at least acting as the main support band, but not this night.

I was, shall I say, intrigued to see them this night. Very recently, their original singer, Jamie Glasgow, decide to leave the band, who rather quickly found a replacement. This was only going to be their second show with the new frontman, though, and I was curious to see what Light the Fire version 2.0 was like.

Their set started in the routine, yet original way, as a rap song began to blare. When the curtain finally opened on them, guitarists, Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez, were both sporting some sunglasses, bobbing their heads to the music. Bassist, Andrew Penland, was doing the same, just sans the glasses. Once that sample track began to fade out, Blake Hein led them into the first song with some heavy drum beats, while Jeff Gunter raced onto the stage. “How are we doing Dallas!?…” he asked, leaving little time for a response as he began screaming the opening line of “Don’t Fail Me Now”. The “moment of truth” came rather swiftly, and I realized I had nothing to fear, as he kept the singing pretty true to form to what it had been. “This next song can be found on our EP.” He said hastily, while Felix and Ryan let loose the triumphant notes of the title track from their EP, “Note To Self”. There weren’t a ton of people there this early on, but the ones who were and were up front watching helped them out here, chanting, “HEY!”, right along with Andrew and Jeff on the songs bridge. They powered through this 24-minute long set, and Blake wasted no time, counting them right into their next tune. “This is a brand new song, Dallas.” Jeff said, “It’s called Thunder Cunt.” I still believe this is the heaviest song the band has played to date, and while I liked it the first time I heard it, I thought it sounded even better now. Though I’m not sure if it’s due to them simply having played it live a little more or if it was because of Jeff. When they were about halfway through it, they took a musical break, which Jeff used to introduce his band mates. “Do you know what, Dallas?” he asked after naming everyone, “I never felt so good in my life!” he screamed, resuming the song. It was directly followed by “Under My Skin”, which worked incredible well, since it’s another brutal number, in all the right ways. “Thoughts” came next, and Jeff successfully got some of the fans to jump up and down and just have a good time at the start of it. That brought them to their final song of the night, which was another new one from their upcoming EP, and as they tore into it, Ryan and Felix each hopped onto a box on their respective side of the stage, churning out the notes on another pretty killer song.

It may have been a (slightly) abridged set, but they still managed to pack it full of rock. In fact, I think there was a higher than normal quantity of it this night, even by Light the Fire standards.

They were just on fire this night (no pun intended). Andrew and Blake created the perfect rhythm section this night, especially during “Not to Self”, where Andrew was pounding out the bass lines and reacting in perfect synch with every thundering beat. It was true musicianship through and through, and not just from them but the whole outfit.

That leads us to Jeff. It would be accurate to say I hate when any band gets a new singer, simply because it changes any bands overall sound so much. Sometimes that’s for the better, but there have also been a few acts that have lost me as a fan due to replacements like that.

Luckily, Jeff doesn’t alter the band’s sound that much, though. He definitely has his own voice, which lacks the higher tone that was normal for Jamie, but I look at that as a good thing. It allows Jeff to make the songs his own in a way, while some of his stage mannerisms are similar enough to their former frontman’s that it’s not going to be a drastic change from the live show the fans were used to seeing.

Very solid, especially considering Jeff had only been with the band for three weeks at this point, and had only performed once with them in the live setting.

It’s too early to say if Light the Fire will be even better now than they were before, but they are every bit as great as they’ve always been, and with a new EP/DVD set to be released in June, I’d say the future looks pretty bright for them.

If you haven’t already, check out their debut EP, “Note to Self”, and if you can, go to one of their upcoming shows. They’ll be rocking Click’s Live in Tyler on March 9th, then the Abbey Underground in Denton on the 10th. March 23rd will find them at Hartline’s in Greenville, and they again be rocking the town on April 20th, this time at The Hanger. They even have some dates booked in May, so to see the full listing, visit their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can also get a free download of their title track.

The third act of the night also happened to be the first of two female fronted bands on this bill, and that was Solice.

This just so happened to be the bands one year anniversary of performing, having done their first live show almost a year to the day of this one, which also took place at the Curtain.

I don’t remember exactly how I came across them, but I had been wanting to see one of their shows for at least the last six months, and was excited that I was finally getting the opportunity.

Once the curtain opened, frontwomen, Xtina, made her way on stage and dropped the band’s name for anyone who didn’t know, along with asking how everyone was doing. She finished with, “…”This is a brand new song. It’s called Not Giving Up.” Rob was the one who started the song, with some very thick bass notes. It was a great and slightly more unique way to open it up, but the song didn’t spring to life until guitarist, Juan, and drummer, Ryan, joined the mix, and that was when you knew it was on. After their second song, Xtina had, had enough of the large empty spaces in front of the stage, and she asked everyone to come and join them, and some of the people who were standing further off did just that. They cranked out a couple more songs before Juan started them on one from their first EP, “Break Free”. It was very fast paced and driven, which subsequently made it engaging to the audience and was easy to rock out to. And as if it weren’t heavy enough with thunderous rhythm section of drummer, Ryan, and Rob, the backing vocals (or rather screams) that Juan threw in really set it off as a hard rock song. “We’ve got a couple more for you.” Said Xtin, announcing their next tune was called “Trapt”. It got off to a slower start. So slow that actually she and Juan took a seat on the drum riser, while Rob sit back on his amp. The tranquil sounds didn’t last long, though, as the song soon roared to life, and the three of them jumped back into action. That brought them to the final song of their 32-minute long set, which was another staple of theirs, “The Mask”. Xtina had used her keyboard that was setup at center stage briefly earlier in the night, but it really got put to use know as she used it through part of the first verse, giving the song a beautiful texture. “The outer world puts on a face. Halloween is every day. How you acts not how you feel, no one knows the you that’s real…”She sang, with it making the transition to a full-blown rock song at that point.

It was a pretty high energy show they put on, and they were every bit as good as I had hoped they’d be. They play a nice blend of hard rock tinged with metal, with the metal sound definitely coming from Juan’s guitar work, and even slightly via Rob and his bass. That’s balanced out by Xtina, who has a powerhouse of a voice, and while she sounds great on their recordings, they in no way capture how incredible she sounds in the live setting.

If you haven’t seen them already, they are definitely an act to check out, and one I hope to see a little more often now.

They have several shows coming up, beginning with March 13th, when they will be performing on the Back Porch stage at Six Flags in Arlington. On March 15th they’ll be at Tomcats West over in Fort Worth, while on the 30th they’ll be down in Houston at Walters. They also have a gig lined up for April 13th at Treff’s in Waco. Lastly, if you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can get a free download of “Break Free”, as well as purchase the other three songs that comprise their EP.

Cull the Heard was next, who was yet another act I had never heard of prior to this, and didn’t know what to expect from them.

“Take Me” kicked off their 28-minute set, with vocalist, Davon Says, singing the first few lines in, of all styles, acappella. “You can’t take my life from me. I’m too strong for it, you see?…” he sang, demonstrating he had quite the voice on him, with his pitch being perfect as he hit each note. The metal part of their music soon began, though, with some fast paced guitar notes from Eric Dando and deafening beats Jim Stephenson was pounding out. That was when Davon began shouting out the lyrics in a more throaty voice, and while I usually dislike vocal styles like that, this turned out to be an exception. Actually, it still sounded good, and the anger it evoked fit with what the song was about. And it only helped that they already had me fully captivated with their energetic performance. After it, they did one titled “Lead Me Home”, and before the following song, Davon offered a brief explanation of what it was about. “…It’s about chasing your dreams…”, adding you just need to do what you enjoy. It was aptly called, “I Want More”, and got off to a softer start, before it swelled to a point it could give any metal song a run for its money. They followed it with “Pieces”, which Davon said was about “…Putting the pieces of your life back together. ‘Cause no one else is going to do it for you…”, and upon finishing it they did “Dim”. Davon used a cordless mic, and right as the song started he leapt off stage into the crowd, before making his way through everyone and eventually walking out the door, presumably out onto the patio. I can honestly say that out of the nearly one hundred shows I’ve seen here at the Curtain, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. That left Eric, Jim and their bassist alone on the stage, but they were more than capable of putting on a show that held your attention until Davon rejoined stormed back in and rejoined them. “Part of It” was another aggressive number and one you could really head bang to, and that left them with only one more song, during which Eric shredded on his guitar for a killer solo.

I liked these guys a whole lot more than I thought I would. Scratch that, I think love is a more fitting word over “like”, and out of the local openers, they ended up being my second favorite.

The stage show was excellent, with Davon exerting most of the energy, at least in terms of being the most active, constantly roaming about and really engaging the crowd. He’s about as solid a frontman as you could find and a real beast, while Jim, Eric and the groups bassist all appeared to be masters of their craft as well.

Impeccable. That’s a good word to sum up their show this night, and I will definitely be attending more in the future.

They’ll be playing at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 22nd and May 5th, the latter of those dates being another Torch Entertainment show. They’ll also return to Dallas in between those gigs, again rocking the Curtain Club on April 12th.

The last of the local openers was the Fort Worth based, Deaf Angel.

It had been some time since the last time I had seen them (about eight months), during which time they’ve made some changes. One of those changes is the acquisition (or re- acquisition) of Duston Daulton, who is now the rhythm guitarist. They’ve also written a lot of new music for their upcoming LP, which made up the bulk of their 26-minute long set this night.

Their opener was one of those new tunes they unleashed on the audience, and I don’t think there’s any arguing that it’s one of the best things the band has done thus far. Lead guitarist, Lee Daniels, and Dustin cranked out some great riffs on it, even having nice lull that gave the impression it was over, before the group exploded back into it. Vocalist, Tina Downs, added some keys to the next song at the start of their next song, “Goodbye”, which was one of only two songs they did from their “We Will Rise” EP. That didn’t last long though, as she soon left the keyboard, which was set up by the drum kit, getting back to the forefront of the stage to rock out. It’s a very rhythm heavy song, with some killer drum work from Scott Van Slyke, which made it easy for bassist, Kelly Robinson, to thrash around. I also want to say I like the way Scott sits up his kit, which is to the side rather than facing the audience, allowing everyone to better see the skills he posses. “Judge” was another new song they did, and afterwards, Tina asked everyone a question. “Does anybody know who we are?!” The audience cheered, prompting her to ask, “Who are we?!” The fans shouted back at her, “DEAF ANGEL!”, which went on a few times. It’s also worth noting that out of all the opening bands, more eyes were on them than anybody else. That led them to their other song off their most current EP, “Rise Up”, which was just one of many this night that had Scott adding some backing vocals, which really metaled up their sound. Following it was “Face”, and after learning they had enough time for one more, Tina said, “…Let’s get crazy…”, stating that “Crazy” was the song title, and was a good one to conclude their show with.

I’ve only seen them a handful of times, but this was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve caught. I thought that they brought it even more than they usually do. Part of that was probably from Dustin, who I think helped broaden their sound and kick it up a notch, both in terms of the sound and their live show. He wasn’t all of it, though. Kelly put on a show by himself and it was evident he was feeling it for every single second they were on stage. I’ve said this many times in the past, but I find it hard to always pay attention to the drummers of any band when there are three to four other band members constantly moving around, making it hard to see them, but Scott was impressive enough I made a point to give him my full attention. While Tinas’ voice, which is powerful and attention grabbing, was just as big of a focal point.

Later in the year they’ll be releasing their new full-length record, “Brutally Beautiful”, but in the meantime, check out the singles they have available on ITUNES.

They served as an excellent final warm-up, but now it was finally time to see what Affiance was all about…

They launched right into their 47-minute set, which began with “You Will be Replaced”. The commanded a small crowd, at least at first, but most everyone who surrounded the stage were fans through and through, singing along to every word, like the songs chorus, “We’re fighting as hard as we can to not be forgotten. We’re running as fast as we can. To the front lines we live on forever.” It didn’t even take that full song to have me completely engrossed with the band, more like the first minute of it, and it was already obvious this was going to be quite the spectacle. Material from their newest album was the main focus point this night, though they did a couple from their 2010 debut, “No Secret Revealed”, such as their second song, which singer, Dennis Tvrdik, quickly mentioned was called “Nostra Culpa”. Thus far they had been pretty music oriented, but during the little break they started letting their personalities come out, subsequently building a bit of a rapport with the ever growing audience. Dennis said he eaten too much food at one of their gas station stops, which was now causing him to belch. He apologized to everyone, though I never heard any of it being picked up by the mic, then stated their next song was “Righteous Kill”. About halfway through the song, drummer, Patrick Galante, showed off just what kind of skill he has, tossing his drum sticks in the air one at a time, always knocking out some beats with the one that was currently in his hand, making it look incredible effortless. Also, when he wasn’t singing on that one, Dennis was often surveying the crowd and bore a very determined look with a fiery passion in his eyes. It made it crystal clear that he, along with the rest of the band, took this seriously and were going to leave it all on the stage. A sample track played before their next song, as guitarists, Brett Wondrak and Dominic Dickinson, as well as bassist, Cameron Keeter, geared up to start their next song, the lead track from “The Campaign” album, “Kings of Deceit”. “Are you awake, Dallas?!” asked Dennis once the song was finished, which caused everyone to roar back at him, showing they were still very much alive. While that was going on, Deaf Angel’s, Tina Downs made her way on stage, as the band started “Bohemian”. She added some backing vocals on parts of the chorus, and I believe it was the start of the second verse where she briefly took over the lead. That earned Deaf Angel a shout out, and Dennis mentioned how much they liked the band, and that they had shared the stage with them a few times in the past. Topic of conversation then turned to the bands home state of Ohio (they hail from Cleveland). One of the fans shouted something about how great Ohio was, but Dennis quickly responded with, “…Now parts of Ohio suck…”, saying that there were a few not so great parts of it. Things then circled back to an earlier topic, as Dennis said he was still feeling “gassy”, to the point he thought he might puke. A fan asked if maybe it instead stemmed from having too much to drink, and surprisingly, he answered by saying he doesn’t drink before shows. “…That’ll fuck you up…” he said, meaning it ruin your voice when you need it most. He went on to say he had only thrown up once before during a show and it was because he had too big a meal, and luckily tonight did not make for a second time. They then moved on, firing up “The Cynic”, and while Dominic, Brett, Cameron and Patrick raced through the intro, Dennis outstretched one arm, acting as if he were holding a shotgun, then “firing” it in synch with one of the drumbeats, right before he started singing. “We the Machines” followed that, but first Dennis asked everyone to headbang to what was about to ensue, saying he wanted to see some “…deep headbanging, all in unison…” Nearly everyone obliged. The banter continued afterwards, when Dennis said, “…As you may know, people from Cleveland are kind of Dallas Mavericks fans, because y’all kicked Lebron James’s ass a couple of years ago…” I believe he even referred to the NBA star as a “piece of shit”. “Peace of Mind” was the next song they did, and it was the only song of their set that didn’t go over smoothly. A song or two before, Dominic had switched to another guitar, and while shredding away on this tune one of the strings broke. His band mates noticed it, but didn’t pay it much attention, acting like professionals as they powered through it, still giving it their all. “I’m sorry, guys. My string broke.” Dominic said when the song concluded, seeming pretty sincere with his apology. They stated they only had a couple left at this point, and Dennis asked for everyone who was a warrior to move up front, causing everybody to pack in tightly. With his choice of words, I expected a different song, but instead they performed the title track from their 2012 record, “The Campaign”. I’d say it was good way to start winding things down, but I don’t know how much winding down was actually done, because everyone still appeared heavily invested in the show. They had saved the best for last, and to ease them into their final song, the track “Mad as Hell” began to play. For those who don’t know, it’s a speech by the character, Howard Beale, taken from the ’76 film, Network. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job…” it started, during which time Cameron put his bass down, resting it against the drum riser. He neared the edge of the stage, pacing back and forth from one side to the other, inciting the crowd by trying to get them to make some noise, and could often be seen lip-synching to the speech. “…”I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” By that time, Cameron had his bass back on, as Dennis yelled the opening line of “Call to the Warrior”, “Get up off the ground!”.

I half expected an encore, but no, that really was it. Not that I was disappointed by any means, it’s just that they were so damn good I would have loved to have heard more.

Now Affiance is a true metal band whose music I can really get behind. Like I said earlier, it’s the constant screaming that really turns me off of most metal music, but that’s kept to a minimum in Affiance’s music. When Dennis does scream, it more just adds a nice effect to the music, while is actual singing voice is nothing short of phenomenal and gripping. He sounds every bit as good live as he does on their albums, probably even better. Both Brett and Dominic came off as being masters of the axe, shredding almost nonstop, while Cameron could command the audience every bit as good as Dennis did, and Patrick was a true machine on the drums.

It was really an off the wall show they put on, and in terms of energy and showmanship, there’s no reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t be headlining much bigger venues in Dallas and elsewhere. Of course they might not have the necessary fan base for that yet, but they’ll get there. After all, this was (surprisingly) their first ever headlining tour, and for a Thursday night, I’d say their Dallas stop turned out to be a monumental success. And whenever they come back through, I know I’ll make a point to attend the show, and you would be wise to do the same.

At this point, their tour is almost over, with the remaining dates being March 6th at Live 59 in Plainfield, Illinois and the 7th at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. That’s not all their shows, though. They have a few in later March in the states of New York and New Jersey. They’ll also be on the road for a lot of April, hitting cities in Virgina, New York, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. For full details on when and where they’ll be, go HERE. Also, check out both of their full-length records, plus their cover of “The Final Countdown”, in ITUNES.

Congrats to Torch for putting on such a successful show. It was definitely one for the books, and I feel there’s a pretty good chance this will be one of the best shows I see all year.

All photos were taking by Danny Motta of Danny Mota Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his OFFICIAL WEBSITE and to see all of the pictures from this show, go HERE.

Wake the Dreamless
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Light the Fire
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Solice
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Cull the Heard
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Deaf Angel
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Affiance
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Thursday, June 7th, 2012 – The Never Sleep Again Tour

Tonight, Torch Entertainment was presenting a show at Tomcats West with a couple of national touring acts and some killer local openers. The problem with Tomcats West is it’s in Fort Worth, and nowhere near convenient for me to get to. And Brian “Torch” had demanded that I be there to review it for him.

So, to make sure I was there to see it (because I did really want to see the show in the first place) I ended up meeting up with Torch and hitched a ride with him over to Fort Worth. That meant getting to the venue very early (at least for me) to be there while the bands were loading their gear in, and I got to see an interesting side of this business that up to this point I was unfamiliar with.

The good thing was the time passed pretty quickly, and before I knew it, it was 8 o’clock, which was when the first band was supposed to start.

Swallow the Hook opened the show, and sans a couple of their songs, musically, I didn’t much care for them. They were just a little too hardrock for my tastes and vocalist, Austin Smith, did more screaming than my ears can handle. However, I believe it was the second song they did that I rather enjoyed. And regardless of what I thought about their music, I have to say, their stage show was pretty great, with guitarists, Eric Gonzalez and Mike Mowery, and bassist, Chris Peyton, being pretty high-energy and really rocked out.

They mentioned they’re working on their debut CD at the moment, and it should be ready in the near future, so check ‘em out, and if you do like their music, you have that to look forward to.

Second up was Secret of Boris, doing a currently rare live performance, since they are busy recording a new EP, but were lured out the studio to do this show.

They gradually built up to their first song. I thought I knew what it was going to be, and sure enough, drummer, Ryan Scherschell, finally added the beats to it, as vocalist, Cameron Taylor, began to sing, “The road is so cold, but every night you walk alone…” “Desert Blood” was absent from the last SOB show I saw, but it’s always a highlight for me when they play it, and when they choose to open with it like they did this night, it just sets the perfect mood for their set and serves as a wonderful demonstration of what is in-store for you. They blended that song into their next, “What Have You Done?”, as Ryan’s drumming patched the two together, while guitarist, Taylor Walding, and bassist, Ryan Ragus, briefly toned things down before the song takes off.  They followed it one of their catchiest new tunes, “How Do You Feel?”, and on the other side of it had a cover waiting. “I have one question for you, Tomcats. Are you ready to push it!?” shouted Cameron. As he did that, Ragus stood on their boxes in front of the drum kit, ready to leap off, as he, Taylor and Ryan were obviously about to tear into the song. “Wait…” Cameron said, adding, and speaking to the crowd, “…You can do better than that!”. The audience again shouted, this time a little louder, as they guys again got ready to bust into the song… And again they were stopped. It was laughable at this point (in a good way) as Cameron looked back at his band mates, and they were all laughing. “I’m gonna hear about this later.” he remarked, and, for the last time, asked the fans to make some noise, and this time they did finally rip into their rendition of “Push It”. They got back to their own material with “Virus”, which before starting, Cameron offered his vague description of, “This is about a girl I know in Dallas.” but this time added, “I hope she’s not here.” Around the first chorus of the song, Taylor pushed his way through the people that stood at the front of the stage and left, going I don’t know where all in the club, before finally re-joining them on stage towards the end. They cranked out another one of their new songs they’ve been hard at work on, and while it seemed like they had only just begun their set, it was already almost over, and they capped off their 28 minute long set with “Retro”.

To have been as short as it was, it was an astounding set, with a great mix of what I guess are becoming oldies, new stuff, and of course, a cover that has long been a staple of their live shows. They currently have no shows booked, and most likely won’t be playing again for a little while as they finish the EP, “Truce”. So in the meantime, pick up their last record, “Your Ghost” and their old record from the bands previous name “Nothing Ever Works”. As for “Truce”, it should be out sooner than later (this is purely my speculation, but maybe August to September).

The four-piece, hardrock band, Deaf Angel, was next up, and after seeing the tail end of one of their shows a few months before, I had been wanting to see the whole thing, and was looking forward to finally seeing what a full set was like.

The song that began their 29 minute long set had a line, “…Do you remember…”, and at one point after singing it, vocalist, Tina Downs, asked everyone, “Do you remember…?”, which drew a nice reaction from the crowd. She approached the keyboard for the next song, “Goodbye”, but only played it briefly at the start. It was a more integral part of their next song, though, as Tina said it was an older one that any longtime fans of the band might now, called “On the Inside”. That was when drummer, Scott Van Slyke, joked that it used to be called “Deep Anal”. “It was never called Deep Anal.” Tina said, in between laughing. They did another, I suppose newer song, simply titled, “Nothing”, which was followed by one more off their “We Will Rise” EP, “Abandon Me”. They next did a song called “Run to Me”, before ending things with “Heart of Darkness”, which saw Tina return to the keyboard and near the end of the song added a famous song lyric, “…I’ve had the time of my life…”, into it.

Their performance was incredible, and both guitarist, Lee Daniels, and bassist, Kelly Robinson, are a large part of making that happen, as they each have a dominating stage presence and thrashed around and rocked out relentlessly. That’s not to dismiss Scott, who can drum with the best of them, and the way his kit is set up, where you see him from the side, I think shows off his skills even further. And the screams that he occasionally adds to some of the songs adds a nice dynamic to the deeper, powerful voice that Tina has.

The band has a few more shows lined up; June 22nd at Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas, and June 30th back at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. They’ll be back at Renos on August 10th , and then, at the end of August, they will embark on a tour. The dates are as follows: August 31st at Tomcats West in Fort Worth. September 1st at The Railhead Saloon in Lawton, Oklahoma. September 3rd at Ole Memorial Lounge in Tulsa, Oklahoma. September 4th at the Boobie Trap Bar in Topeka, Kansas. September 5th at RC McGraw’s in Manhattan, Kansas. September 6th at The Riot Room in Kansas City, Missouri. September 8th at the Riverside Warehouse in Shreveport, Louisiana. They also have dates around Texas from late September and then October, so visit their website to find out where and when.

Light The Fire was the final local act of the show, and after getting a taste of their live show a few weeks prior, I had hoped to catch one of their next few shows before they take a little hiatus from the live performance side of things.

Vocalist, Jamie Glasgow, started getting the crowd pumped up for what was about to transpire, and as he did drummer, Paul Brown, and the rest of the band tore into their first song, “Don’t Fail Me Now”. As soon as Jamie began screaming away with the first verse, you could feel and see the crowd’s energy change, as many started banging their heads to the music, while a few others got a small, controlled mosh-pit going. For the next tune, they fired up their catchy sing-along, “Note To Self”, which I believe was one where Jamie occasionally held the mic towards the crowd and even certain individuals, letting them sing for a moment, and afterwards they slowed things down. A sample track of an acoustic guitar played, beginning “Save Me”, but the scaled back sound didn’t last long, with guitarists, Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez, bassist, Andrew Penland, and Paul entering into the song after the line, “..Broken down and I live in spite, and I see no end in sight…”. This is really the only slow song of theirs that they play live, but it’s one of my favorites, not only the song itself, but just in how it shows a different, more relaxed side of the band. That side didn’t last long, though, as once it was done Jamie said something about bringing it back up, and they did just that with one of their newer songs, which may well be the hardest song they done thus far, and it sounded spectacular. Their 25 minute set was getting close to being over, and after cranking out “Under My Skin”, Jamie said that their final song was their bouncy one. “…I want to see some people jumping…” he shouted, which most of the people did once “Thoughts” got underway. The song also featured some great backing vocals from Andrew on the chorus, who, in a somewhat shrill and gravelly voice, screamed, “…Kill my pain…”.

I thought it was a really great set, despite later hearing from the band that they had some technical, on-stage difficulties, which went unnoticed by me. I guess I was more caught up in the high-energy performance they put on, and how enjoyable their shows are, are easily one of if not the best thing about them. They just cut loose and have fun while they’re on stage, which makes it pretty easy for their fans to do more or less the same thing.

Their live shows are dwindling at the moment, with only three booked at the moment I post this. The next is June 23rd at the Curtain Club in Dallas, which will be the bands final Dallas show until after recording their next album. After that, you can catch them in Greenville at Hartline’s Texas Beach Club on August 11th. All of those shows are crucial for the band, as they are trying to raise money to aid them in their September trip to Massachusetts to record their next record. So check at least one of them out, and while you await the recording and release of this next record, be sure to purchase their debut EP, “Note to Self”.

After that performance, I really had my doubts of the remaining bands even coming close to rivaling it, but then Blameshift got up on stage…

I had heard that the New York based band was known for their high-energy stage show, but wasn’t expecting it to the extent that it was. As soon as the music started, guitarist, Tim Barbour, and bassist, Vince Monticciolo, started throwing down, shredding on their respective instruments, jumping onto and off of their boxes (the one on stage right said “Blame”, while the one on stage left read, “Shift”) and just covering practically every square inch of the stage. I’m pretty certain the first two songs they did were some newer ones, which sounded most excellent. But after those, vocalist, Jenny Mann, announced their next song was “Ghost”, as Tim started it. At this point, they were quickly making an impression on the audience, and their show only got better as they launched into a song co-sung between Tim and Jenny, “The Sirens Are Set”, which further got the adrenaline flowing. Next, they did a partial cover, and while I was unfamiliar with it, I was told it was “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. They did a few minutes of it, and then brought it into what I think was another new song, and followed it with one more new one. I was a bit disappointed when Jenny said their next song was the last one they had, simple because I was enjoying it so much I was hoping for another 10 minutes or so. Alas, it was not meant to be, as drummer, Nathan Saake, began the final song of their 31 minute long set, “Figure Out a Way”.

Wow… The show they put on was nothing short of breathtaking. It was thoroughly entertaining and highly enjoyable, so basically everything a band needs to be. Nathan killed it back there on the drum kit, demanding attention, while Vince and Tim were the most active of the group, and even though Jenny stayed at center stage for the majority of their set, she still had a presence, that, along with her voice, commanded the crowds’ attention. This was just one of those shows that you had to witness firsthand to understand how great it was.

As for their shows, the final date of the Never Sleep Again Tour with Straight Line Stitch will be on June 20th at the Whiskey A Go Go in West Hollywood, CA. They have several dates after that, from late June to mid-July, including performing at Rock’n the Valley in Pecatonica, Illinois, and you can find all of their dates HERE. Their two records, “The Black Rose” and “Blameshift” can be found on iTunes, while they are currently working on their next EP and this current U.S. of theirs will last an indefinite amount of time. So that means at some point they will most likely be in a town near you… That also hopefully means that they will return to the Dallas/Fort Worth area while the tour is still going on.

Straight Line Stitch was the final act of the night, filing on stage at the precise minute their set was supposed to start, seeming like a truly professional touring band. From what I listened to, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like them, but I still had to give them a chance.

It’s not like I knew any of their songs, but I think they opened with “Conversion”. Sure enough, once singer, Alexis Brown, began screaming, it went against what I find appealing in music. They did another tune that I had the same feelings for, and the same went for “Laughing In the Rearview”. However, when Alexis said they were going to slow things down with “What You Do to Me”, I wondered what their interpretation of the word “slow” meant. It was still just as hard rocking music wise, though Alexis did more of what I consider to be legitimate singing, which sounded fantastic and made this my favorite song of their 42 minute long set. “Ashes In the Wind” was another great sounding song, but as they picked things back up with “Sound of Silence”, my attention to them started to wane. They did another number, and afterwards Alexis asked a simple question, “…Do you all want to hear more or not?…” She said they had no plans of doing an encore, but they had two more they could do if people wanted to hear them, which of course they did. Those two were “Bar Room Brawl” and “Black Veil”, both of which seemed to get people pretty excited.

No, I can’t say I really enjoyed it, but still, credit must be given where it is due, and they are great performers, with bassist, Jason White, guitarist, Kris Hawkins, drummer, Ian Shuirr, and Alexis rocking out harder than most. And for the type of music they play, they are some of the best I’ve heard (although that is a small handful, since I do tend to stay away from such genres.)

They have dates from now through September, and to see them all, go HERE. You can also find all their records in iTunes.

At this point, after the last band played, is usually when I take my leave, but since I had hitched a ride with Torch, that obviously wasn’t an option, which was fine. I even got be his cameraman while he did interviews with SLS and Blameshift (note to everyone: only ask me to be your cameraman if I am the only person available, my hands are shaky and at one point I dropped the Flip.  So it’s evidently not my calling. Haha.)

It was a fun day, night, and even early morning, though, with some great music. Thanks again, Torch, for wanting me there to review it and giving me a lift to Fort Worth.

Saturday, March 24th 2012 – Part I: A Farewell to Dano

Another night at the Curtain Club… At least that was where my night began. This was an incredibly rare six band bill, culminating with Pulse, who was celebrating the release of their new CD.

Since so many bands were playing this show, the doors opened at 7:30, an hour earlier than normal. And by when I got there a little after eight, the first band, Deaf Angel, was practically done. Judging by the last two and a half songs I heard, I’d say I missed out. They have a pretty hard rock sound, that may borderline metal, and the song I happened to walk in on had drummer, Scott Van Slyke, adding some killer screams around the lyrics vocalist, Tina Downs, was supplying. She introduced the next song as being “Run to Me”, “…Or as the guys know it, Hailey.” she said, and then they wrapped their set with another edgy one, “Heart of Darkness”.

Based off what little I saw, I’m definitely now a fan of Deaf Angel. You can find their EP, “We Will Rise” in iTunes and catch one of their upcoming shows if you can. On April 20th they’ll be at the Crowbar Tattoo Saloon in Fort Worth. On April 24th you can find them at Tomcats West in Fort Worth (they will also be there on June 30th). Then on May 5th they will be at Hat Tricks in Lewisville.

Next up was “the only all female hard rock band out of D-FW”, Faded Grace. They jumped right into their 32 minute set with the intense tune, “Unworthy”, which is surprisingly pretty low-key on the verses, with Tracy’s voice roaring to life on the chorus, which was also when guitarists, Jessica and Diane, and bassist, Laura, began thrashing about heavy drum beats Heather was cranking out. Tracy announced the next song as being titled “Sister”, and afterwards did another song from their self-titled album, “Go Alone”, which was when the show really seemed to take off to me, given how badass the song is. And the guitar solo towards the end is pretty killer, too. “This next song is called Side to Side.” said Tracy, as Laura soon started her bass solo that kicks the song off. They did the hard hitting, “Taken Back” next and then “Self Ruin”, while “Bad Bitch” wrapped up their 32 minute set.

Their set was fantastic, and made me wonder why I had not seen them since this past July… So, I don’t know why I can’t think of anything else to say to further elaborate on their show. I’m failing myself here… I will say these ladies know how to put on a fucking rock show, though. In some comparisons, they are even (far) better than some of their male counterparts. They currently have two shows coming up at The Rail Club in Fort Worth. The first is May 26th while the next on is June 16th.

All the way from St. Louis, Missouri, D-Railed was next. Uhhh… These guys left a LOT to be desired. For starters, vocalist, Tim Standridge, wore a pair of sunglasses for the majority of their set. I’m not too big on any musician wearing shades on stage, mainly because it makes you appear pompous, and rather Tim is or isn’t, that was sure how he looked. That wasn’t the only thing however, and could have easily been overlooked if they had at least sounded good. The music wasn’t good at all, and they were way out of sync with each other. I decided during their set was as good a time as any to go use the restroom, and while in there you could hear the true extent of how off they really were. It was embarrassing.

Luckily, they would be the only disappointing act on the bill, and for everything they lacked, White Elephant would make for it and then some…

Some circus music played as White Elephant’s intro track, like what you would hear when the elephants are being brought out, as drummer, Will Jaeger, came out on stage first and took a seat behind the kit. Bass player, Josh Armstrong, walked on stage next, then guitarist, Matthew Miller, and finally singer, Peter Thomas, joined them. If this was the first time you were seeing the band, than you might have wondered what you were in for with the intro music, but as it subsided Pete said something like, “How are we doing, motherfuckers?!” Yeah, that transitioned it into the rock show this was going to be. They tore into a thirty something minute set with their progressive, hardrock sound that definitely livened the crowd up. I believe it was their second song that Pete said was titled, “Girls Who Fight Are Beautiful”. With a song title like that, could anyone not like it? They continued on from one song to the next, as Matthew and Josh went full-throttle, rocking out on their instruments and putting on a true show, while Will decimated the drums, pounding out such ferocious beats that you had to find yourself head banging to them. At one point, Pete stood on the stage, beating his chest as he said, “I sweat…” then pointing at the crowd as he finished it, “You sweat.” With that he climbed down the steps and joined the audience, starting in and slightly participating in a small (and mostly tame) mosh pit.

I’ve only seen White Elephant once before, and after tonight I must say, what this band does is what the Dallas music scene has been seriously lacking over the past few years. (I want to point out I’m not saying there haven’t been great bands who do extraordinary shows, there have been and are. But White Elephant just adds to that short list.) If you find yourself in need of a rock show, and I mean a real, honest to god rock show, this is one band to see. They will be performing at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival on Friday, April 6th at 7 PM. Keep track of their REVERBNATION page for any future show updates, too. While there, you can also listen to some demo recordings, and it is well worth noting that if you want to get the song “Kill the Headlights and Drive”, it is available on Escaping the Ordinary: Volume III. That is a compilation record that features a TON of local acts from Texas and all around the country, and is available as a FREE download.

White Elephant seemed hard to top, and I almost didn’t think it could happen. But I hadn’t seen a full-blown Redefine show in quite awhile… And I had forgotten how mind blowing Redefine is…

They opened their show with “Fall Down, I Believe It”, as Daniel Taylor put a beat down on the drums as the other members, guitarists, Chris Apaliski and Ryan Maynard, and bassist, Mike Diquinzio, exploded into the song and began shredding and rocking out. Vocalist, Scott Headstream, stood relatively still, at least until he sang the first line of the song, “All eyes staring at the past. All words muttered meant to last…”. And, as usual, he grabbed the beads personalized megaphone during the second verse, using it as he sang, “…Wake up you’re falling anyway…”. I want to say the last time I saw Redefine (at least the last plugged in show they did) was last September.  So it had been awhile. And as they finished up that song, with Mike shouting into the stage right mic, while Chris used the stage left one, “FALL DOWN, I BELIEVE IT!”, as Scott sang, “How could I ever close my eyes?” I wondered how I had let that much time pass in between seeing them. They kept going full steam ahead with their balls out rock by doing “Leave the Light On” and then did one of their non-album songs, which I think might have been “Broken Walls”. (Don’t hold me to that though, ‘cause I couldn’t see a set list this night to verify that.) They next got into some tunes from their current EP, “Blur On the Horizon”, by doing “Cut the Cord”, a song that grows on me more and more each time I hear it. As the band got ready for the next one, Scott announced it was “Arcana” as they suddenly broke into it. I believe it was during this song that the two following things happened. One was that Maynard walked out onto the little steps in front of the stage, all the while of course continuing to rock out on his guitar. The other thing that happened was towards the end of the song, Scott grabbed the mic stand, flipped it upside down and hoisted it as high as he could above his head. The microphone was pretty much even with his mouth as he sang a line or two before flipping it back around. It was a pretty cool moment to see, for sure. “This next one is about drinking beer… And getting fucked up!” Scott said. I can’t be sure (again, I couldn’t see the set list), but with a description like that I want to say the tune was “Beer”, which they debuted at the last full-band show I was at. It’s a good song, but I don’t know… I still just haven’t heard it enough to form a real opinion on it. Once they finished it Chris asked Scott how many more songs they had. They pulled a cell phone out and used it to better see the set list. “Two more.” Chris could be heard saying as they soon launched into their most intense tune, “Rise”…

I didn’t stay for that whole song, and I regret that now, but now is too late to do anything about it. The reason I left was because there was another band whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time playing another venue in the area. They were supposed to start at midnight, but it was about ten minutes after when they got going. So yeah, I could have stayed for Redefine’s final song and the drum solo that I speculate Dano capped off the show with. But oh well.

Dano, you will be missed. Practically all the Redefine shows that I have seen were with you behind the kit, so it will be strange for me to see someone else rocking out the beats. Best of luck to you with your future endeavors, sir!

That said, Redefine is in the market for a drummer, so if anyone reading this is one or knows one, here is an opportunity to be in one of the top bands in D-FW. They may be out of commission for awhile, but you can catch them on August 4th at the Ranch in Arlington for the WhiskeyBoy Radio charity event to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It’s gonna be good times, so check THIS out for all the info and make plans to attend. Lastly, if you don’t already have them, check out the bands two EPs, “The Powers of Persuasion” and last years, “Blur On the Horizon”, both of which are available in iTunes. You can also find one of their songs on the free download of Escaping the Ordinary: Volume III.

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NOTE: If any bands want me to A.) write a review of their album or B.) wish me to play their music on my podcast, than email me. Also, I have partnered with Sawed Off Productions & WhiskeyBoy Radio, both of whom will help me present The Music Enthusiast showcases. If your band would be interested in performing at a future showcase, email me for consideration: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!