It took six years, but the Toadies finally brought their roving music festival known as Dia de los Toadies to their hometown of Fort Worth.
Actually, with the festival having been stationed in New Braunfels for the last three consecutive years, it was easy to forget the festival was meant to roam about the Lone Star State in the first place.
I must admit, it felt a little strange to me, though, being only the third time I attended the festival it was also the first time I (or rather my dad and I) didn’t have to trek south to Central Texas for the event. Instead, it was just a short(er) little jaunt over to Fort Worth and the Panther Island Pavilion, which was the spot for this year’s event.
It wasn’t a little slice of heaven like the setting of the past few years, but it was a nice space. Still, it could benefit from some shade trees, and while it was fairly removed from Downtown, leaving the attendees unable to see or hear any traffic or anything, the buildings of downtown Fort Worth still served as a reminder that you were in the city.
Being in North Texas this year, the lineup drew almost exclusively from the areas talent, and getting the day long festival going was some students at the School of Rock, but not just any students, they were students from the dean’s list.
Their nearly 30-minute long set consisted entirely of covers, including some Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin, among others.
The group consisted of a large collection of musicians, who often played musical chairs, with five of them beginning with an instrumental piece, before a girl who looked like she was perhaps ten joined them on stage for their first song with lyrics, and surprised me by having a more powerful voice then I was expecting.
It was a good glimpse of what could perhaps be a future crop of local area musicians, and while all of them were already good at their craft, there were two that really got my eye. One was the first bass player who was on stage with them, and played most of the set. He killed it, having an awesome style of playing while slapping the bass. The other was one of the other vocalists, and before their final song, an instructor or someone with the School of Rock walked up to the mic, informing everyone that Zoe (the singer) would soon be graduating from the school after something like four years, and this would be her last time performing as a student.
She had a wicked voice, often conjuring more of a sharp growl, and as a front women had a great presence, getting into the music and moving accordingly to it, and just had an aura about her that ensured they had your undivided attention.
Kudos to the School of Rock for doing what they do, and to all the kids for putting complete dedication into their set and best of luck to them as they continue to improve.
Over on the smaller stage, the Play.Rock.Music. stage (of course named after the Toadies most recent release) was the Fort Worth based, The Cush.
Their 28-minute long set featured a hefty bit of new material from the album they are currently working on, and I believe their opening song was one from it. They did throw some more rock stuff into their performance to better fit with all the other acts, however this song was a little softer, and featured some truly gorgeous harmonies and textures from the husband and wife duo of Burette and Gabrielle Douglas, the former playing a guitar, while she rocked the bass.
She did most of the singing on it, and afterwards they did another new one, which if I heard correctly was titled “Orange Like Water”. Afterwards, drummer Todd Harwell led them into a song from 2010’s “Between the Leaves” with a mighty drum roll, launching them into the explosive “I Shout Love at the Heart of the Atom”. They might be more of a low-key outfit that does more indie like songs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t throw down when they need to, and that song served as a prime example of that, and really allowed guitarist Josh Daugherty to cut loose.
“This song’s called The Drone.” Burette said to the small crowd of onlookers, before they did the more soupy, dreamy sounding song which was drenched with some sounds courtesy of a synthesizer. They were almost done, now, doing two more newer ones, and “Cover Your Eyes” kicked things back up into high gear. It was easily the most intense thing they played this afternoon, and Todd knocked out some strong beats on the song’s outro, which all but belonged to him, before they did their closing track.
In fairness, I haven’t see The Cush much, with this being only the third time I’d caught them, but they grow on me each time around.
In fact, Gabrielles’ voice sounded better than I’ve ever heard before, being absolutely beautiful. Part of may have also had to do with the new songs, which I found to be some of their best stuff to date, particularly the more rock oriented songs. They pull of both styles exceedingly well, though, and the duel vocalists adds an interesting component to their whole dynamic.
Check out their records in iTUNES, and stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show updates and news about their forthcoming record.
Back over on the main stage (which was the Panther Island Pavilion stage I should add) a newer Dallas group was getting ready to perform, and that was These Machines are Winning.
The band has earned praise since their debut, and especially after releasing their first record earlier in the year, but I had yet to see them, and in fact, had never even listened to their music, so I was clueless on what to expect.
However, I did not expect to see three guys (they did not have a drummer by the way) dressed in solid black, which included hoodies, and yes, they did have the hood drawn over their heads. Probably one of the crazier things I’ve seen a band do in in heat that was pushing 100 degrees, but that also earns them some serious props for sticking with their signature look regardless of how hot it was.
“It’s Been So Long” kicked off their set, and I was a bit surprised to find out how electronic based their music was, with the percussion also being thrown in on the sample tracks. I don’t mean that as a bad things in any way, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was a striking sound right from the start, and I mean that about just the tracks themselves, let alone with the slick guitar parts that lead guitarist Dave Christensen and singer and guitarist Dylan Silvers, were adding on, as well as the rhythmic bass lines Hightower was cranking out. It completely enveloped me, and they had me mesmerized throughout the duration of their 26-minute set.
With a little bit of feedback they brought it right into the following song from “Defender 1”, “Get a Little Closer”, which was eventually bridged into “Brains Inside Our Head”. Dylan ditched his guitar for “Just One More (Monolith)”, taking up more of a front man role and proving he was just as comfortable on stage without a guitar as he was playing it, walking around a bit while delivering the lyrics. “This song’s called Beat S.” he announced after placing his guitar back around him. “…You’ve been looking at me like I was somebody else. You’ve been looking at me like I could fix this whole god damn mess…” he sang on the second verse of the song which somewhat breaks the mold of traditional songwriting by lacking a true chorus, something it really doesn’t need.
Upon finishing it, Dylan then named their next song, “Fornication”, which I thought was probably their most rocking number, even though it still had a real electronic element to it. It eventually gave way to “You Have Been Talking to a Ghost”, as they continued to power through their set as quick as they could to fit everything in, and once it was done they took a pause. Dylan spoke more to the ever growing crowd, rather than thank the people for coming out and the Toadies for having as he had done at other points in their set. “It’s fucking hot. It’s gonna cool down. It’s gonna rain.” he said.
The first part of that was very true, but sadly the other two sentences never did happen this day. With that said, the trio tackled their final song of the day, “If This City Won’t Sleep”, capping things off nicely.
Sometimes, when it comes to electronic samplings, I think they can sound fairly cold and sterile, but that was far from the case with These Machines are Winning. It was very vibrant, and while I’d hesitate to say they are breaking new ground, their music is highly original and very different from most of the stuff currently out there.
It is very creative music, and the synth sounds work in perfect combination with the rock flare Dylan, Dave and Hightower bring with their live instruments.
Since seeing them, I’ve listened to “Defender 1” a few times, and the songs do translate well on the record, and they do pull them off live exactly how you hear them, though it is the live show where things are really at for them. They put on a pretty energetic show, as well as a fun one, and one I hope to see again soon.
To keep up to date on their shows, just stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE, and do be sure to preview and even buy “Defender 1” in iTUNES.
Over on the other stage, an old iconic Denton band was about to be doing one of their occasional reunion shows.
That band was Baboon, who was part of the “Fraternity of Noise” (a title that was collectively given to three bands back in the early 90’s), and while that may have been well before my time, I was still somewhat familiar with Baboon, and have been for a little while now. (side note: this was the second year that Dia de los Toadies has featured one of the bands from the “Fraternity of Noise”.)
Baboon has been in business for over two decades now, and semi-retired would probably be the best word to use for them. They’ve never actually hung it up and called it quits, though their reunion shows are few and far between, and because of that they had quite the audience.
They traversed much of their lengthy career, at least as much as they could, the fiery “Rise” was how they began things. It definitely piqued my interest as they jumped into action, and each member of this quintet was pretty spry, and certainly didn’t let their age show on them.
“Lush Life” wasn’t quite as aggressive as that first track, but still packed a good punch, and they quickly followed it with “Breaking Glass”, which I thought had some sweet guitar lines, which in turn made it a catchy little tune. Before the next song, vocalist Andrew Huffstetler noted they were doing it because it was a request, pointing out that is something they don’t always take. They named the evidently longtime fans, who I assume were in a relationship of some type, since they said the guy had requested it for the lady, and fittingly so, because “Nation of Twos” was somewhat of a tender love song.
The mood changed when they fired up “I’m Okay if You’re Okay”, which I found to be the most interesting song of their set. There was an eerie atmosphere to it at times, with some haunting riffs from guitarists Mike Rudnicki and James Henderson, while Andrew forced his voice into a falsetto tone, letting loose a violent scream shortly after, while the rhythm section of drummer Steven Barnett and bassist Bart Rogers was off the wall. At times, parts of the song seemed so opposite one another it was almost contradictory, yet it worked.
With some beats on his kit, Steven wound them into “Dracula Eyes”, which wound up being one of my favorite songs they did. It may not have been an all-out onslaught of rock like some of their other material, but it was an all around brilliant song. They continued busting out the classics with “Closer”, then eased into “California Dreaming” with some light guitar chords, at least until the song took off. By the time it was done, they only had one song left, and it was “Evil”.
It was a great 32-minute set in my opinion, but for the longtime fans, it evidently was not long enough, with the chants for an encore starting no sooner had the final notes been played, making them the only band (aside from the Toadies) to get demands for an encore. It was a request Baboon really seemed to want to grant, but with the time constraints of the festival, they were unable to do so.
Obviously, I can’t attest to what a Baboon show was like back in the day, but from the looks of it this afternoon, I’m going to guess that they haven’t lost much of their edge.
In terms of a high-strung, energetic show, Baboon was the best there was on the festival, constantly moving about, and in Andrew’s case even jumping, proving they could run circles around the fresher bands they were sharing the stages with.
There were times when Andrews’ voice would crack a little, but that was only on some of the high notes he hit, and that’s the only compliant I can make about their show.
In regards to their music, I think it has withstood the tests of time, still sounding creative and fresh compared to any rock you’d hear now days, probably because they just don’t make rock bands like Baboon anymore (at least not in mainstream rock).
Who knows when these guys will be pulling out the drums, guitars, bass and microphone again, but whenever they do, I’ll definitely try to be there to witness another show.
Back over on the main stage, another trio was ready to go, and the rock continued with Oil Boom.
The band is readying a brand new record, and they squeezed in several songs from it, but also threw in some current and older stuff, like “45 Revolutions Per Minute”, a smart, fun little tune that was completely consuming. Dugan Connors kept the drum beats going, bringing them into one of those songs from their upcoming record, and it was followed by another.
Once it was done, bassist Steve Steward made a reference about how big the stage was, and it wasn’t your typical reference. “Remember that part in the Batman movie, where Batman, or Bruce Wayne and Vicki Vale are in the dining hall on opposite sides…” he said, speaking of the 1989 Batman film. “That’s what I feel like…” he said, then added, “Ryan’s Vicki Vale, obviously.” talking about his band mate, singer and guitarist Ryan Taylor.
That made for a great laugh, and served to only make them more entertaining than they already were, before they continued on with two more songs, tied together nicely with a little bit of guitar feedback. “…Here’s one you all will know, maybe.” Ryan said to the crowd. It was one from last year’s “Gold Yeller” EP, and though I didn’t know it, I quickly became a fan of “The Great American Shakedown”. “Shaking down, shaking down, shaking down, you know I’m all shook down…” Ryan sang on the chorus, the unique tone his voice has making the song all the more irresistible.
The next song they did featured a stellar guitar solo from Ryan, and while it was the most prominent instrument at the time, Steven and Dugan held it up with a tight rhythm section, then after one more new song, they reached the final song of their 37-minute long set. It was one off their first record, and even though “Bite Your Tongue” was older and had been written with the bands original singer, it still came across as a staple of their set, and was one of the highlights.
Having heard of Oil Boom for a few years prior to this, it was good to finally see them live. In fact, I had listened to their music a few years back (around the time of their first album, so circa 2011), and wasn’t really drawn in by their music, but damn, their stuff this day sure got me hook, line and sinker.
A lot of that has to do with Ryan, who, just in comparing their two EP’s, is a much better singer, in my opinion, giving their sound a whole a new style. And speaking of their sound, it is rock first and foremost, but there’s some underlying blues and soul qualities to it, some of their songs even having a revamped 50’s to 60’s era sound to it.
Now that I have seen Oil Boom, I’m wondering why it took me so long to do so, and I’ll have to make it a point to see them a little more often when I can.
They’re keeping busy, with a show in Austin on September 28th as part of the Pecan Festival. On October 4th they’ll be in Houston at the Continental Club, then Sundown at Granada in Dallas on the 5th. The 12th will see them in Fort Worth at the Flying Saucer for Beerfest, and the following weekend they’ll be back in Cow Town for Lolaspalooza at Lola’s Saloon on the 19th. On the 25th they’ll be at the Blue Note in Oklahoma City, with a Tulsa gig on the 26th at the Mercury Lounge. Lastly, on November 9th they’ll be back in Dallas at the Granada Theater, opening for Johnny Marr of The Smiths. As for their music, you can of course pick up their EP’s and some singles in iTUNES.
The pace of the day was about to take a drastic change over on the Play.Rock.Music stage, though not everyone (myself included) knew just what they were about to experience.
This San Antonio based quartet known as Piñata Protest was on their way out to California to start a tour with Guttermouth, but they were stopping here first to give the Dia attendees a taste of their self-described (according to their Facebook page) “Mojado punk” brand of music.
I was expecting the punk part, though, especially not after seeing singer Alvaro Del Norte wielding an accordion. Not the most punk rock sounding instrument, at least you wouldn’t think it would be.
The outfit recently released their new record, “El Valiente”, and they opened with the first full song on it, “Vato Perron”. It quickly became apparent they’ve carved out their own little niche for themselves, the accordion adding a real Mexican flare to their music. Actually, all of the instruments did, from the notes Matt Cazares played on his guitar, to the rapid fire beats drummer JJ Martinez was cranking out, working in perfect tune with Marcus Cazazres’s bass lines.
It was all fast paced like punk music, is though, and they lowed through their 34-minute long set, going almost straight into another number. That new album of theirs wasn’t the only source of music for them, and actually, they seemed to draw equally from it and their first release, “Plethora”, running through the short “Jackeee”, before doing the title track of album two, “El Valiente”.
They were both throwing down and making for a very fun live show, but it was about to get a little more hardcore. Alvaro took off the accordion he was using. “Are there any punk rockers out here?!” he asked, saying he meant real, true punk rock fans, not pretenders. Some of the onlookers roared back at him to signify there were. “…Prove it.” he said, “Start a fucking circle pit…” he commanded. As for the song, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I’m leaning towards “Que Pedo”. Regardless, once they tore into it, a mosh pit erupted, lasting the whole not even complete minute the song did. Actually, some of the people looked confused, surprised the song was already over, but hey, that’s a true punk rock song right there. Short, intense and to the point.
After another tune, they did an Irish song for everybody. At least that’s what Alvaro told the spectators. “…This is an Irish drinking song for all you Irish motherfuckers.” he laughed. I believe it was “Life on the Border”, and upon finishing it, they geared up for their next song by getting the audience to clap along. Alvaro asked for everyone to get their arms higher in the air, making a wisecrack once they were fully stretched upwards. “Oh, I can smell your armpits from here.” He said, waving his hand about as if he were trying to waft the smell away.
That song was “Guadalupe”, which was relatively tame by the standard Piñata Protest had so quickly set, before rolling it into “Suckcess”, kicking things back up. The full-blown punk rock side they are capable off showed itself again with their next song, another pit forming, as a handful of people slammed against one another for the duration of another song that was unknown to me.
By now it seemed like their time should be running out, but with very few songs that are even three minutes long, they kept powering on with “Volver, Volver”, which JJ wound into “Rocket”, Marcus banging his head about to the drum beats of that partially instrumental song.
A very catchy song was “Tomorrow, Today”, and once they finished it, it was time to put their spin on a couple of traditional songs. “…This song’s about a little cockroach, who likes to smoke weed…” Alvaro said to the crowd, who both laughed and cheered at that, before he went on to dedicate it to all the “officers in uniform” for keeping everyone safe this day. I promise you, you have never heard “La Cucaracha” sound like the way these guys did it, putting a very punk twist on it, even complete with a trumpet. They then wrapped up their set with Alvaro said was another traditional song, “Cantina”, another one they no doubt made much more punk sounding than it originally is.
Piñata Protest was easily the most original sounding band of the festival (and that could actually be extended to most original band I’ve ever heard in general), and they also stuck out as being one of the highlight acts of the day.
Fun and aggressive is an interesting mix, especially in the way they mixed it, but that was made them so enjoyable. It was something fun that you could cut loose and have a good time listening to, though also doubled as a fierce and tight rock show.
These guys pull off their unique style incredibly well, and their live show is one to behold, because they won’t disappoint. There’s also a good chance they might be near you on this tour they are a part of. For all their dates, click HERE, and they will be on the road through mid-October. Also, do your ears a favor and give them a taste of something different by checking out their records in iTUNES.
Back on the main stage, it was time for another drastic shift in music (compared to the band that had just finished), and everyone was about to get countrified by the duo, The O’s.
“Thunderdog”, the band’s latest LP, was the main source of their music this day, but they also drew from “Between the Two” a little bit, like with their opener, “We’ll Go Walkin’”. “Every morning, when we wake up, I brew up some lovin’ and pour you a cup…” sang John Pedigo at the second verse of that sweet love song. That overwhelmingly happy song transfers its emotions well onto the listeners, making it impossible to be in a bad mood.
“…This song’s called Dallas.” said acoustic guitars and other vocalist Taylor Young, who also adds the percussion by stomping on a pedal to hit the bass drum that sat at his feet. That tune was the only bumpy part of their set, as I had trouble hearing Taylors’ voice, and even John’s as he harmonized with him. Whatever the issue was, it resolved near the end of it, which was just in time for them to do the lead track from “Thunderdog”, “Outlaw”. It’s perfect proof that this new record features their best collection of songs yet, and this song’s at the top of the list. “…We’ve all got the right to fix things that we don’t like… Revolt, reshape and reload…” the two sing on the chorus, which I think sends the message that if you want something to change, you can and need to be the one to make it happen.
“Found the One” continued their show, and they shared a little bit of the banter they usually make, something Taylor mentioned earlier when he apologized, “…We’re trying not to talk as much today as usual…” Here, they pointed out the producer of their recent record. “…You look hot…” Taylor told, before pointing out he meant in hot in the sense of the temperature. John then chimed in, saying something to the effect that he thought his band mate meant the physical sense, because he was looking pretty good.
They then started a real gem from the new album, “Rearranged”, which was also a very captivating moment of this performance. “Well Taylor, it looks like wearing black wasn’t a good idea after all…” John said to his band mate, as they began to talk about some of the other bands, like These Machines are Winning and their outfits, while saying Baboon probably had the smartest idea by dressing in all white. “…That joke never gets old.” Taylor stated, giving the impression they used that before, which only made the joke that much finnier. They then stepped it up with the only song they have that is borderline rock, and that is “Kitty”, which sees John shredding on his banjo at the end.
There was a long build up to their next song, John doing a lengthy harmonica solo before the two started the music bed of “In Numbers We Survive”, which they segued nicely into “Pushin’ Along”, which required John to use his pedal steel guitar. It then came time to end their 42-minute long set, and what better way to conclude it than with “Everything’s Alright”.
I believe I said this the last time I saw The O’s, and I’ll say it again, they’re growing on me each time I see them. This was definitely the best show I’ve seen them do, even topping the festival I saw them play back in May, mainly because they were able to squeeze some additional songs into this one.
If you’re looking for great, quality country music, then they’re a group to check out. Both John and Taylor are fantastic singers with their own unique sounding voices that can add different tones to their music, and they can harmonize like no one’s business. They also write some topnotch music with brilliant lyrics.
You can find their three records in iTUNES. They’re also keeping busy through the rest of the year, playing Three Links in Dallas on October 4th, with a gig at the State Fair of Texas on the 11th. The 20th will find them back in Fort Worth at Lola’s Saloon, then on the 25th they’ll be up in McKinney at Hank’s Grill. For November they have shows planned in Grapevine, Dallas, Plano and Denton, and even a show in Nashville, TN come early December. For all of those dates, go HERE.
The Burning Hotels were ready to go over on the other stage, having amassed quite a crowd.
While everyone loves these guys, they’ve never won me over, but I was open to perhaps this being the time the band finally clicked with me.
Their 35-minutes on stage began with “Always”, with a couple of other songs (I suppose newer ones) coming next, none of which did much for me. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of Chance Morgans’ voice. However, I have enjoyed the songs that guitarist Matt Mooty sings on, and had been somewhat looking forward to “Days are Gone”. It was the first song of the night where Matt really had a part in singing, and maybe he was just having an off night, but his voice was far from good.
It really caught me off guard how incredibly pitchy he was, and the same could be said of Chance, as they continued on with “Lovely Lovely Lady” and “Sound City”. By that time, I had all but zoned out, making it seem like the perfect time to go ahead and get a place in line to buy some Toadies merch, as The Burning Hotels finished up with three more songs, including “Allison” and the closer, “Beard”.
I’ve tried to get into The Burning Hotels, I really have. There even a handful of songs that I really like the recorded versions of, but in the end, honestly, I just feel these guys are overrated.
All the same, if you want to listen to/buy their music, you can do so HERE and HERE.
Now after seeing a few acts I had caught before, I was looking forward to checking out another act that was new to me… Well, sort of.
I had heard of The Dirty Rivers Boys before, about a year ago, and loved their music, but hadn’t managed to see one of their shows when they had come through town, at least not until now.
They looked much different than any of the other bands this day, with the bass player, Colton James, wielding an upright bass, while drummer Travis Stearns sit atop a cajon, with only a partial drum kit of a snare and a tom around him.
No sooner had the MC of the event introduced them, then they got down to it, opening with the lightning quick, “Letter to Whoever”. The catchy beat reeled you in immediately, and I believe it was Nino Cooper who handled the singing on that one, while also playing a guitar, and he spit out the words just as rapidly as the song was quick. There wasn’t even really time to applaud their efforts as they continued on to their next song, “Heart Like That”. “She’s just a girl with a ramblin’ heartache, he’s grown a hard, lost man…” went the chorus of that infectious track, which wound up being my favorite of theirs and a real sing along quality to it.
Those two songs had come from their first full-length record that came out last year, but now they went back to the first two EP’s they released, playing a song from “Train Station” and “Long Cold Fall”, respectively. They switched things up slightly with “My Son”, which showcased what incredible harmonies the quartet is capable of, as Nino, fellow guitarist Marco Gutierrez (who did the majority of the singing on it), and even Travis all chimed in, their voices blending together to make a beautiful sound. Nino then took back the reigns for their next number, briefly saying it was a song he wrote about a union painter he had met, aptly called, “Union Painter”, and had a true country sound to it.
“This is what we like to call a Chinese fire drill.” Marco told the crowd, as they all took on different roles for the next song. If I got it right, it had Travis playing a banjo and singing, Marco on bass and Colton rocking the mandolin. Once they finished it, they reverted back to their typical instruments for what they said was a “drinking song”, which was “Draw”. They rolled it into another song I wasn’t able to figure out, though it was more of a heavy hitter than the previous song. “…There’s this brand new thing on the streets called punk rock…” one of them said before ripping into the song, which did have a slight punk rock feel to it.
Their 40-minute long set was nearing the end, cranking out one more softer song in the form of “Youngblood Blues”. They then prepared to go out with a bang, Nino switching out to a mandolin for their last two songs, “Boomtown” being one of those, and it got everyone pretty active. It was wound pretty fluidly into their final song “Raise Some Hell”, which at times sounded like an Irish jig, making it all the more fun.
That was actually somewhat of an abrupt end to their set, because I figured they might do a little more, and they were one of the only bands this day that had me wishing they had gotten a longer set time. And really, it’s always good to leave the crowd, even if it’s only some of them, wanting more
Everything about The Dirty River Boys was phenomenal, from the lively show to the killer music and just the attitude they seemed to have about it all. By that, I mean they were just having fun doing what they love to do, with just enough seriousness that any band needs, while still being pretty relaxed and just going with the flow.
Their show was one you could just cut loose at and have a good time, though it certainly didn’t hurt that each of them had exceptional voices, and the harmonies were to die for.
Check out all of their records in iTUNES, and even go catch a live show if you can. They’re keeping busy with shows all over Texas, Oklahoma and even a few other states, spread out through the end of November. For all those dates, go HERE. They will be back in the D/FW area on November 22nd at the Granada Theater, then the next night they’ll be in Austin at Antones for their last show of the year.
Night had finally fallen and the heat was finally more than bearable now, as the show entered the headliners portion of the night.
I had been pretty excited about the Tyler based family band, Eisley. I had missed their last stop or two through Dallas, and they were finished touring for the year, but thankfully they were doing this one-off show.
They played an assortment of songs from various points in their careers, though opened with the title track of the album they put earlier this year, “Currents”. It seemed slow at first, but by the time they hit the chorus, when guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis joined sister Stacy King in crooning, “Do you believe in fate, baby? Ask me, ask me…” it roared into a force to be reckoned with.
Dialogue was kept pretty minimal, simply thanking the fans for coming out and the Toadies for having them, as they worked to fit in everything they had planned, and next moved on to “Invasion”. Afterwards, Sherri took over lead vocal duties as they busted out a few from what is their best record in my opinion, “The Valley”. “Better Love” was one of those songs, and by the time they finished it, Sherris’ guitar had a broken string. “…Do we have an extra guitar? We probably don’t, do we?” she asked, before choosing to “rock it out”. “What string is that? G? Who needs the G string?” she joked, before pointing out is was another that had snapped. Drummer Weston DuPree then started them into “Sad”, he and bassist Garron DuPree creating a knockout rhythm section on that one.
“I feel like I have to hold my head on when I sing that one, ‘cause it’s so hard.” Stated Sherri while she caught her breath, Stacy joking with her that it might just fall right off if she didn’t. She didn’t have to exert herself quite as much on the next two songs, “Save My Soul” and “Mr. Moon”, the latter one finding Stacy fully focusing on her keyboard. Upon finishing it, they did chat with the crowd for a few minutes, as Sherri recalled her, Stacy, Chauntelle DuPree-D’Agostino and the rest of the group cutting their teeth at the clubs in the Deep Ellum part of Dallas. “…None of us were old enough to legally get into the clubs, but they still let us play…” she said, before cracking, “Now we’re just old moms with babies…”
Fitting along the lines of that reminiscing was their next song, and old one from 2005’s “Room Noises”, which they said they were doing just for their fans in their home area. No, it wasn’t the ever popular single from that disc, but it was one that’s every bit as good, “Golly Sandra”. It was quite nice getting to hear that more classic song of theirs, which is one of my favorite Eisley tracks, and it was balanced out by the title track of one of their newest releases, “Deep Space”.
Chauntelle added some commentary after they finished it, laughing as she said she had forgotten some of the chords near the end of that song, so she just winged it. “…We’ve been off for two months and I’ve been painting a house…” she informed everyone, noting that between that and being a mom she didn’t have much time to practice. Her sisters agreed with her, that two months in “mommy world” keeps you busy enough that you would forget some things. They followed it with another track from the EP, and considering what had just happened, it seemed apt that it was “Laugh it Off”, which eventually wound into one song that never disappoints, “I Could Be There For You”. It’s nice how it features all three of the sisters singing at least a few lines apiece, particularly Chauntelle, who doesn’t show off her voice on any other song but that one.
They had one last song to do from “Combinations”, and that was “Many Funerals”, after which they once again thanked everyone for coming out. They then wrapped up their 58-minute long set with their current single, the ethereal sounding, “Drink the Water”.
I must say, I was slightly disappointed they weren’t able to fit “The Valley” into their set, but that one stellar song missing didn’t do anything to diminish they knockout show they put on.
The rush they seemed to be in only aided them, making them appear to be even tighter than they already are as they tore through all those tracks, while simultaneously giving it a very fluid feel.
This was definitely one of the best Eisley shows I’ve seen (even though I’ve only seen a handful), and even though it was a one-off performance, the group was more than on point.
Expect to see them back out on the road sometime next year, and in the meantime, hit up iTUNES to check out the collection of albums they have put out over the years.
The main support slot for this year’s Dia de los Toadies went to the Austin based Gary Clark Jr., who is a mix of rock, blues and even some soul.
“When My Train Pulls In”, one of the singles from his debut full-length, “Blak & Blu”, kicked off their set, quickly proving they can also add jam band to their style, too. The recording of that song is close to eight minutes, but this live version lasted slightly over ten, as Gary Clark Jr. riffed and shredded on his guitar, while his band mates, a drummer, bassist and guitarist, tore it up right along with him.
They kept the jam fest going with “Don’t Owe You a Thing”, and then roared into full rock mode with “Travis County”, which was also one that could have and did have some people dancing along to its contagious, poppy vibe. It had quickly become apparent that Gary wasn’t much for chitchat, and he only occasionally offered a “Thank you.” in response to the cheers he was getting. He was all about the music and letting it consume him, and as they carried on, they switched things up from those first few songs.
The falsetto tone of voice he suddenly switched to for “Please Come Home” was enough to catch those who were unfamiliar with him off guard. It was truly impressive how well he pulled that off, though, keeping it up for the duration of the more tender song, which, like every other song, was complete with a guitar solo to demonstrate mastery of the instrument.
“I don’t believe in competition. Ain’t nobody else like me around…” he smoothly sang at the start of “Ain’t Messin’ Round”, which saw their return to the rock genre. It was followed by an instrumental song, which I’m guessing was “Third Stone from the Sun”, Gary lightly picking at the strings on his guitar, and as the time went on, he progressively picked up the pace. It eventually gave way (rather seamlessly, too) into the soulful and even somewhat funky “If You Love Me Like You Say”. The long instrumental segment of the song also featured a good little drum solo, before the full band broke back in to march the song along to its end.
Next up they did the title track itself, “Blak and Blu”, bleeding it into what was arguably the best song of their 63-minute long set, “Bright Lights”. “…You’re gonna know my name by the end of the night…” Gary crooned on various parts of the song, which, when taking out of context, was very fitting, because everyone who was getting their first taste of his music certainly wouldn’t be forgetting him anytime soon.
It was complete with a jam portion, and once they finished it, their set suddenly ended, as he again thanked everyone and he and his band left.
I was kind of mixed about them. On one hand, I’ve stated many times before my disinterest in instrumental music, yet their songs abounded with them, at times causing me to lose some interest. On the other hand, the musicianship (especially on Gary’s part) was superb, and even standing a good ways back from the stage his intricate playing was something to marvel at, making the instrumental parts more than bearable to me.
Overall, I did thoroughly enjoy their show, and it truly was a show they put on. They have a different sound about them, one you don’t hear much of these days, and the crisp, fresh sounding voice of Garys’ is what sets is all off.
Gary and his band will be out on the road from the end of September through the end of November, hitting up several parts of the country. For full details go HERE, and they will also be performing at the House of Blues in Dallas on November 27th. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of “Blak & Blu”. You’ll surely love it.
For the first time in nearly eight hours, silence fell on Panther Island Pavilion. Well, at least silence from the live music. The roadies set to work on getting their stuff off stage and setting up the Toadies gear, allowing the fans to make a beer run or do anything else without fear of missing anything.
By around 10:30, things were all set as the intro song for the Toadies began to play. It wasn’t one of their typical intro songs, though it fit well given where they were. It was George Straits’ “Big Balls in Cowtown”, and after the song had nearly played all the way through, Vaden Todd Lewis walked on stage.
Now, if you’ve seen the Toadies a few times within the last several years, you know they typical stick with the same tried and true set list, usually opening with the same song with many others falling in the same spot each time. There’s nothing wrong with that, hell, I love their traditional set list, but for this year’s Dia they decided to throw everyone for a loop, throwing a multitude of surprises in.
I’ll preface this by saying I find “Play.Rock.Music.” to be every bit as good as the iconic “Rubberneck”, with not a single track on that record being one you should skip over, and one of my personal favorites from their latest disc is “We Burned the City Down”. So, I was pleasantly surprised when Vaden began strumming on his guitar, singing, “Well, misery loves company, that’s why we’re thick as thieves. Let’s move out to the country and live just the way we please…” Soon, Clark Vogeler made his way to stage left while Mark Reznicek took a seat behind his drum kit, joining in after the first chorus, as if they had done this song a few dozen times over already. Once the song kicked into high gear, Doni Blair stepped on stage, bass in hand, as they concluded that deep cut/rarity, and it wouldn’t be the last one of those this night, either.
Their wasn’t even time to applaud that one before some cheers erupted from everyone, excited at the start of “Backslider”. After all, it is those classics that are still the bands bread and butter, even all these years later. Afterwards, they moved on to that follow up to that album, “Hell Below/Stars Above”, Mark counting them in on the rather unexpected “Jigsaw Girl”. That’s an easy song of theirs to overlook, but in hearing it your reminded what good track it is, especially in the live setting, with its nice ebb and flow, while Doni and Mark created an impressively tight, albeit soft rhythm section on the verses. They weren’t about to stop there, and with a mix of mangled feedback they swirled things into their next song, another one I had not experienced live.
Even by their standards, “Cut Me Out” is an extremely intense song, allowing all four of them to get wild, Clark tearing it up on his axe at lightning speed. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and in a set that was comprised so much of songs that they have seldom done in recent years, it was must play. They rock kept coming as they segued the end of it seamlessly into “I Come from the Water”, the only song that was fit to follow that other up. “Sing it!” Vaden shouted into the mic as he stepped back from it, giving the audience their routine chance at singing the chorus back at them, the shouts of “I come from the water!” flooding out of the fans mouths.
So far, this was shaping up to be what was probably the best Dia de los Toadies yet, and after a quick time out where Vaden thanked everyone for coming out, saying, “…We’ve had a blast for the last two days…”, they continued to crank out some more music.
In recent years, only a couple of songs still get played from the record that officially marked the bands comeback, “No Deliverance”, but they were looking to change that this night, and next did one I hadn’t heard in a few years, “Don’t Go My Way”. As that semi-dark and haunting song came to an end, Clark led them into the next, one of their newer cuts, and it was the best intro I’ve heard him do yet for “Animals”, really putting his whammy bar to use for it. It was just more exaggerated than what you hear on the recording, and that heavy song about the most primal human instinct fit perfectly with the one that came before it. It was then Todd’s turn to start the next one, the pulse pounding “Push the Hand”, before offering up another classic in the form of “Quitter”.
The banter resumed after that one, with Todd pointing out he recognized a few faces from the almost acoustic show the night before. “…That’s always weird and cool…” he said, referring to how it gets them out of their element. He then thought back to the early days of the Toadies. “…They would run us out of the clubs when we first started…” he said, pointing out it was nice now how they get to do this festival each year and play as late as they want to. He even stated that the best part of this night was yet to come, and that they were even going to have some surprise guests join them.
Doni then got them going on “Summer of the Strange”, a song that garnered some very audible cheers from some, seeming to signify that, while new, it’s already become a fan favorite. They then dusted off “I Am a Man of Stone”, which was were one of only two mistakes were made out of this night. Todd got a bit tangled up before the second chorus, flubbing the line, “…Now you’ve got me branded. Broken but still standing, watching you wreck everything…”, starting by uttering one of the earlier lines, before realizing his mistake, which only threw him further off as he tried to recover. Those couple sentences certainly couldn’t ruin the song, but it happened nonetheless.
However, no mistakes were made on “Away”, another song that briefly became a sing along, the crowd chanting, “When I’m away.” a few times over. What happened afterwards, though, was by far the best part of the night for me. Four and a half years is a good chunk of time to have been seeing these guys, and each time I’ve seen them I’ve hoped to hear the lead song from “Hell Below/Stars Above”, and within the last year I finally gave up hope of ever hearing it. So, I was both ecstatic and shocked when Todd began rapidly strumming his guitar, churning out the opening part of “Plane Crash”. The brief jolt of high energy Rock ‘n’ Roll that song offered was something else, and after all those years of hoping beyond hope to hear it, it was everything I hoped it would be.
They had already thrown several curve balls had their fans, and another one came next when they started into “Hell In High Water”. Sure, it has been a staple of their shows since 2008, but more recently it has been reserved for an encore. Yet here it was, in the main part of the set, begging the question, “What did they have planned for their encore?” As fans know, near the end of that one Clark has a sort of solo, knocking out a few lines while pressing his guitar against his amp. Once he finished that he returned to the front of the stage, when Todd made the remark, “I feel like we need one more.” Prompting Clark to return to his amp, letting out wicked and near deafening note.
Upon finishing it, Todd again thanked all the bands who played the festival. “…If you’re wondering how we put all this together each year, fuck, I don’t know…” he laughed, before thanking Kirtland Records and Sonar Management for helping organize it all. “…If it weren’t for you guys I’d have more gray hairs than normal…” he remarked. They then suddenly jumped back into the show, the fans hollering after quickly realizing it was “Possum Kingdom”, and shortly before making his entrance on the drums, Mark struck a pose by angling his arms towards the sky, as if he were a super hero about to take flight.
All these years later that’s still the one most fans love the most, which may not be a good thing, because shortly after they finished was when a very steady stream of people began to leave, and they kept filing out until the night came to an end. It was sad, really, but on the other hand, it showed who the true fans and diehards were.
That song was a sure sign the night was coming to an end, yet at the same time, there were still several songs I could think of they hadn’t played yet, making me wonder how much more they really were going to do. It turned out they had a lot left to give before wrapping up the main portion of the show, and next dug out “Unattractive”, before hitting another favorite of mine, “Sweetness”. “No Deliverance” changed the pace up a bit, being one of the few songs where Todd uses his bullet mic almost exclusively, and once it was over, he mentioned they only had a “couple left until the fake ending”. “…Do you know about the fake ending?” he asked the crowd, all of whom of course did.
During those last few songs a small mosh pit had broken out semi close to the stage, and Todd asked everyone to be careful, saying no one wanted to see anybody get hurt. “Well, there are some people I’d like to see beat up.” Todd said, adding, “Sorry, Doni.” Once the jokes were finished, they continued going off the beaten path by doing “Tyler”, which is normally reserved as an encore, and again begged the question, “What do they have planned for this encore section?”
“This is a good one to shake your ass to, if you brought it. I brought mine.” Said Todd before the final song of their 81-minute long set, which was none other than the high-speed “Rattler’s Revival”.
They took their leave, as did some more of the fans, obviously not concerned with the special guests the band said they had coming up.
A minute or two past before they returned, and once the four-piece reconvened on stage, Clark did the talking. He introduced the first of their series of special guests, a man he said was responsible for much of the Toadies sound, the bands original guitarist, Charles Mooney. Clark ceded his guitar to him and left, and as Charles struck a few notes, a technical issue arose. “…It can’t be a festival without an issue.” Todd said, demonstrating some quick wit by adding, “It has to do with my dad…” To pass the time he got the list of every band who had played and named them all, then bantered on, pointing out that he has been doing this for twenty-four years now, and what a nice privilege that has been.
By that time, the issue with the guitar was resolved, and for this song with Charles, they dug deep, all the way back to “Pleather”, doing “Ruth”. You couldn’t tell it had been about two decades since he had played with the band, owning it on that song, even using his teeth to pluck the strings at the end, all with a vicious stage personality. It was great moment, and he seemed to have a lot of fun doing it.
Clark took back over once it was done, and Doni welcomed their next guest on stage, his little brother, Zach Blair. Vaden pointed out he plays in Rise Against. “..I think they have some potential…” he joked, while handing his guitar over to Zach. It appeared that for one song he was going to be nothing but a front man, and that song was “Velvet”, which saw him pacing about the stage, taking advantage of the mobility he suddenly had.
Shortly after, Zach was replaced by their next guest, James Hall, who had been an opening act for them on the previous night. The thing I hated most about one song from “Play.Rock.Music.” was how nearly impossible it would be to do live, and even worse was it was another favorite of mine from that disc. So, I was quite surprised when Vaden announced the song, “Laments of a Good Man”, with James singing what, on the song, is the devilish voice heard inside the characters head. It translated pretty well live, and James had a good voice for it, sounding a bit wicked. The only hiccup came right at the very end, when he flubbed one line, which in turn made Vaden stumble over his part, laughing about it once they finished the tune.
No Dia is complete without a cover song, and this year (at least for the rock set), they did was Vaden joked was a “obscure” cover. It was a rendition of Joe Walshs’ “Rocky Mountain Way”, and while it didn’t sound like anything the Toadies would do, that was what made it so great, because it put them out of their element a bit, proving they can tone it down a bit.
After nearly twenty minutes this encore was surely close to an end, and their parting song to everyone was “I Burn”. It’s the only way a Toadies show should end in my opinion, capping off the 23-minute long encore nicely.
I’ve only seen three Dia de los Toadies, but out of those three, performance wise, this was the best one, hands down. I return to all the deep cuts they did. That’s how you make this an experience for the fans, perform songs you haven’t touched in awhile or have perhaps have even never played live to make it even more of a spectacle.
It sure worked well for the toadies this night, who were in rare form, even for them, and the banter, which can be lacking at some shows, was well above par, further making everyone feel like they were more of a part of this whole thing.
You can say what you want to about the Toadies, but there’s a reason why they were able to rise from the ashes of their seven year breakup and prove they were not only still relevant, but also a force to be reckoned with. Dia de los Toadies is a testament to that. Well, that, and how many people still love the band and the music they create.
There’s nothing on tap for the band right now, but who knows, they might do one or two more shows before the year’s end. And if you don’t already have them, go check out all their records in iTUNES.
This was a very fun Dia, even without the road trip to Central Texas, but now the question is where will the seventh installment of the festival be held? All of Texas is fair game, and while it could return here to Panther Island Pavilion or New Braunfels, it could just as easily could be held anywhere else.