Friday, May 30th, 2014 – Light the Fire Returns, While Cull the Heard Takes Charge

The Boiler Room is best known for hosting hard rock and metal bands, and this night, they had quite the lineup scheduled.

Even though I got there around nine, the first band (Darkside of Daylight) had already come and gone, as this apparently ended up being a five-band bill. That made Driven Below the first band I saw, and they wound up being just too heavy for my personal tastes.

They opened their 27-minute long set with “Prelude to the Dark”, and while I may have found the music too metal, I did enjoy the stage show, and the banter was topnotch. “This is a Friday and it sounds more like a Wednesday!” vocalist Eric Daughtry shouted, trying to get the crowd more pumped up. He then joked that bassist Jim Taylor wrote this bass line for their next song, “Legions of the Damned”, while back in Tyler, “sipping on a daiquiri”.

Another funny moment came when Eric tired his hand at a Matthew McConaughey impression, using the old standby, “Alright, alright, alright.” “That’s always a crowd favorite.” he joked after the audience cheered him; before they eventually ended with “A God Among Insects”.

I may not have personally liked them, but I don’t have anything bad to say about them, either. It’s just not what I’m into.

They have a show at Click’s in Tyler on June 21st, and then they’ll be at The Rail Club in Fort Worth on June 28th. They also have dates at RBC in Dallas on July 18th and The Office in Euless on the 19th.

More or less the same can be said of the following band, A Threat to the Enemy, who did enough heavy screaming that I couldn’t even get into it in the slightest. Those who were there were loving it, though, and their music induced a lot of head banging.

Next up was one of the bands most of the people were there to see: Light the Fire.

It had been six months since the band had last taken a stage, and a lot had happened with the band since then. For starters, they went to Cleveland and laid down some tracks for their third album; and, as they got their banner hung at the back of the stage and their scrims set up on each side of it, something else became clear: Felix Lopez was now the lone guitarist in the band.

I had been told right before the show this night that their lineup would be a little different, and it was then that I realized what that meant. No one seemed too taken aback by it, though, and they certainly weren’t worried about how this show would play out.

“Come on, Dallas! Let me see you bounce your hands with me! Let’s have some fucking fun tonight!” shouted vocalist Jeff Gunter, who, like his band mates, was clearly ecstatic to be back on a stage. They warmed everyone up with the old favorites from their first EP, tearing right into “Don’t Fail Me Now”, as Jeff began screaming out the first verse of the track. “So don’t fail me now, this dream is mine. Our time is now, so watch me shine!” he roared on the chorus, as fans sang and jumped along to the music.

“It’s good to be back.” Jeff remarked afterwards, before asking if anyone was familiar with the title track from that debut EP, “Not to Self”. “I know more of you know it than that!” he said after getting a weak response. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that “Note To Self” sounded a little different without two guitars. That was only really at the beginning, though, and once they got through the guitar intro, the rhythm section of bassist Andrew Penland and drummer Blake Hein helped flesh things out. “Hey!” Andrew shouted on the bridge, as Jeff held the mic out to different fans, letting them lend a helping hand with the backing vocals. “Suck it!” Jeff shouted as the track came back in, with a little more force than normal I might add.

“Boiler Room, how you doing?” Jeff asked once that song was done, while the sample track for their next one (and subsequent track on the EP) had already began to play. As is normal, he asked for everyone to do some jumping around at the start of “Thoughts”, and more than a few fans were happy to do that. That was what the crowd needed to really get riled up. People had been surprisingly calm thus far, but now some moshing broke out, though it was even tame compared to other LTF shows.

“Dallas, it feels so fucking good to be back!” Jeff again exclaimed, still riding high on the waves of excitement and adrenaline. “I’m out of shape. Like, bad.” Andrew added. I imagine that was true, given the band played very frequently before what could be called a brief hiatus, though their actions on stage didn’t reflect that of a band who was out of shape. “I feel fat.” joked Jeff, referencing their time in Cleveland, and saying with all the cheese they consumed, “you won’t shit for a month”. The chats were nice, though they made sure to never let them go on for too long, and soon got back to business, again getting the audience to participate in shouting “Hey!” at the very start of “Under My Skin”.

From the end of it, they went right into the lead track from their self-titled EP, “All Or Nothing”. Jeff continued the role of high-energy frontman, jumping all around the stage and getting up close and personal with those who were right up against the stage, before jumping backwards onto the drum riser towards the end. “Sorry for being MIA…” he said as they took another break, saying he and his wife had decided to, well… He somewhat thrust his pelvis in the air and made some sounds associated with sex, saying they had, had their first child sometime in these last six months. He mentioned that sacrifices are hard, mainly talking about the sacrifices you make when you have a little one to care about, but that could be applied to several situations, and because of that, it made for a perfect time for Andrew to interrupt. “Give it up for this guy for sticking around…” he said, noting that Jeff very easily could have left, and no one would have blamed him a bit.

It was surprisingly real talk, which soon gave way to them mentioning that those who knew them would know this next song had a special name at shows. “Put your thunder cunts up in the air!” Jeff instructed (Thunder C*** is what the song is known as), as fans placed their thumbs and index fingers together, making an opening. “Look how big Blakes’ thunder cunt is!” Jeff said pointing back to the drummer, who was using his sticks to make his. On the album, the song is known as “Forever Grateful”, a truly great, albeit heavy, love song, and Jeff used the lull of the tune to formally introduce the band. “Felix the Cat.” he said of the guitarist, while Blake’s nickname “Blake The Snake” was used, and Andrew was simply called “Andy”.

“Dallas, I have just one thing to say to you. I’ve never been so grateful!” he screamed as they suddenly kicked the song back into high gear. With their 37-minute long set nearly over, Jeff made clear he wanted to see some movement out in the crowd, as they looked to end things with the uplifting, “Stick To Your Guns”. “Believe in what you find inside yourself. We’re shooting for the stars and nothing less…” goes the chorus; and before the breakdown, there was a second or two long pause, where the whole venue was just silent, making the track sound even better.

As it turned out, they weren’t done just yet, though. Their trip to Cleveland “AKA Scary Place” (as they called it) was again mentioned, and they had several nicknames for the city. “…There’s a place called Ghetto Gas. That’s real.” Jeff informed everyone, before telling the listeners that they thought they’d play one of the new songs they recorded, saying it was for all the lovely ladies. Jeff used his fingers to make a hashtag sign, and, if I heard him correctly, the new number was titled “#IDoItforTheFuckingRatchets”. It was a super heavy song, rivaling that of some of LTFs’ most intense numbers thus far, and they got some help from some friends on it. JC (of Darkside of Daylight and formerly The Truman Syndrome) joined them on stage, and eventually, Tina Downs (of Deaf Angel) was coaxed on stage to do a little background singing.

It may have been one of their heaviest songs, but it was also one of the best, and as they got ready to get their gear off stage, Andrew took time to again thank everyone for not only coming out, but also for not forgetting about them and sticking with them. “I know it’s been a minute.” he said in closing.

If you hadn’t known that they hadn’t played in six months, you never would have guessed it. They might not have been in perfect form, but there also weren’t any signs of dust having collected in that time off.

They’re still tight and they’re still an excellent metal band, even now that they are down to one guitarist, and really, sans that one song I mentioned earlier, I didn’t even notice that much of a difference as far as their sound goes. They’ve adapted the songs quite well to fit the new format.

Their next gig will be June 22nd at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and they’ll also be performing the Austin and Dallas dates of the Dirty South Festival. The Austin date is August 1st at The Dirty Dog, while Dallas is happening at Trees on the 2nd. They also have a August 23rd show at Curtain Club in Dallas; and if you don’t have their EP’s, you can pick them up in iTUNES.

Bringing the show to an end was one band I hadn’t seen quite some time. A little over a year to be exact, when I first happened across Cull the Heard.

Since then, the band has released their debut album, gone through a lineup change (or two), and have made a good dent in scene, doing frequent shows and capturing a good fan base.

“Is everybody having fun tonight?!” frontman Davon Says asked the crowd, before their enlivened 41-minute set started off with the lead track from the “Reap the Harvest” album, “That’s Right”. He even sang the songs title in his deep metal voice a few times after asking the audience how their night was going, being answered with their cheers.

The presence was there, and so was the energy, as Davon raced back and forth on the fixture that has been added in front of the stage to expand it. He spent more time there this night than he did on the actual stage, because that way he got a closer connection with the crowd. When he wasn’t darting around, he was jumping; and he even walked into the crowd and then out the door at one point, looking to reel in anyone who was standing outside. Then, when he came back in, he incited a friendly mosh pit.

It was non-stop insanity just on their first song, and they kept that pace up for the duration. “Is your life on hold?!” Davon asked, before guitarist Eric Dando launched them into the finely crafted “Life On Hold”. Davon kept going full throttle, placing one leg on a windowsill, standing firm on it and the extended stage, as he leaned over a few fans and sang at them. John Tapia took advantage of his wireless bass, and he mingled with the crowd on that one, giving spectators an up close and personal look. “Are you fucking ready?!” Davon asked as the songs lull came to an end, and they exploded back into the track.

They showed off their softer side at times during “I Want More”, and Davon grabbed the hands of many of fans/friends who had gathered around the stage, before again getting off the stage and disappearing into the bar section of the venue, and all the while you could still hear him singing. “How y’all doing tonight?” he asked sincerely after that song, before posing another question to everybody. “Are y’all in this?” It was a setup for “In This”, which saw Eric playing a wicked guitar solo, and drummer Mike Lambert and John made for a powerhouse rhythm section.

That led them to their “panty dropping song” as Davon referred to it as, saying that “Pieces” was for the ladies, and it was “about being a better person”. The track starts on a slower vibe, but eventually rivals that of their other numbers. “Are y’all fucking ready?!” Davon bellowed, before furiously head banging to the intense beat, so hard, in fact, that his hat flew off his head and landed in the floor. Upon jumping down to get it, he entered a mosh pit, and was more than happy to partake in it, all the while never missing a note.

“This next song requires some participation.” he said in advance of their next song. “Say ‘What!’” he instructed, adding that came after he sang “…I’m a part of it and it’s a part of me.” People happily helped out with that at the start of “Part of It”, when Davon sang a couple lines a cappella; and when the music came in, he proceeded to quickly sidestep back and forth on the area in front of the stage. “Y’all want some more?!” he then asked, holding the microphone out to people to better hear what they would say. The answer was a resounding “yes”, and “Can’t See” seemed to do just the trick for the fans, sparking a whole new dose of excitement. John again left the stage, this time wandering over to the bar, but the highlight came when Davon took a flying leap onto the audience.

They had done most of the songs off their album at this point, but still had a few left in the chamber, and before “D.I.M”, Davon clarified that it stood for “Deep Inside of Me”, a phrase often repeated during the track. “Kiddin Me” offered a great note to end on, and once it was over, Davon, who was again out amongst the people, gave several of the fans big, sweaty hugs, thanking them for coming out. It made it sound like it was over, but his band mates had other ideas…

Before they could even check on their time, Mike started them in on “Take Me”, a song that pushed them past their allotted time, but no one really cared. “You can’t take my life from me. I’m too strong for it, you see?” sang Davon on the chorus, channeling the more delicate side of his vocal range, before bursting into some screaming.

Their set was as explosive as they come, and they were a spectacle to watch on stage. Cull the Heard has definitely set themselves apart from much of the rest of the herd, and that extends to their music, too, which has several metal elements, but is also pretty original sounding.

If you haven’t seen them, you’re missing out, and I know I’m going to have to try to start catching their shows more often.

Keep a check on their FACEBOOK or REVERBNATION pages to be in the loop about future shows; and be sure to pick up “Reap the Harvest” in iTUNES.

I may not have loved every band I saw here this night, but the two I really did enjoy made this a spectacle night.

The Best of 2013: A List of Bands & Albums You Need to Know

Since I only do this once a year, here’s a refresher as to how this goes; After keeping track of every album I bought that was released in 2013 (120+) and every concert I saw, this is where I - completely objectively - select what I think were the best of everything.

LP’s and EP’s are divided into two different categories, with a top ten in each one, after which I do the “Best of the Rest”, alphabetically listing all the other records (the primary reason I do this blog in the first place is to try to help get bands even the slightest bit of extra exposure, so I don’t want to leave anyone out simply because they didn’t make my “Top Ten”.)

After that, I’ll list my ten favorite concerts from the year, then end with a wrap up.

For the albums, if you click on the artist name, you’ll be taken to their website. Clicking the album title will take you to either iTUNES or Bandcamp to purchase the record. Something new I’m also doing this year is including a link to a Spotify playlist next to each category, so you can easily listen to most of the music (not ever band has their music on Spotify, after all.) As for my favorite concerts of the year, they’ll be linked back to the individual review I did of the show, in case you missed it the first time around or may want to read it again.

Sound good? Good. Here we go…

Top 10 LP’s of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

1.) Artist: Kentucky Knife Fight

Album: Hush Hush

Must Listen Song: “Bad Blood”

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2.) Artist: Jillette Johnson

Album: Water in a Whale

Must Listen Song: “Pauvre Coeur”

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3.) Artist: Nothing More

Album: Nothing More

Must Listen Song: Every track. Seriously.

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4.) Artist: Tommy & the High Pilots

Album: Only Human

Must Listen Song: “Devil to Pay” & “Young and Hungry”

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5.) Artist: Dead Flowers

Album: For You

Must Listen Song: “No Tragedy”

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6.) Artist: Ishi

Album: Digital Wounds

Must Listen Song: “Emotional Hard Drive”

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7.) Artist: Distant Lights

Album: Not Thinking Not Dreaming (FREE DOWNLOAD!)

Must Listen Song: “What’s On Your Mind?”

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8.) Artist: Sick Puppies

Album: Connect

Must Listen Song: “Walking Away”

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9.) Artist: These Machines are Winning

Album: Defender 1

Must Listen Song: “Beat S”

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10.) Artist: The O’s

Album: Thunderdog

Must Listen Song: “Outlaw”
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The Best of the Rest (LP’s) (
Spotify Playlist)

Artist: Air Review

Album: Low Wishes

Must Listen Song: “Low Wishes”

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Artist: Animal Spirit

Album: Animal Spirit

Must Listen Song: “House On A Hill”

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Artist: Anthony Green

Album: Young Legs

Must Listen Song: “Breaker”

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Artist: Anydoll

Album: Electric Heart (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “You Are Amazing”

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Artist: Ashley Falgout

Album: Long Over Due

Must Listen Song: “Days and Days”

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Artist: The Band of Heathens

Album: Sunday Morning Record

Must Listen Song: “Shotgun”

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Artist: Bawcomville

Album: Tranny

Must Listen Song: “Diminished Returns”

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Artist: Black Books

Album: Black Books

Must Listen Song: “Something to Remember”

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Artist: Blameshift

Album: Secrets

Must Listen Song: “Revolution”

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Artist: Blue October

Album: Sway

Must Listen Song: “Put It In”

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Artist: Bordeen

Album: Bordeen

Must Listen Song: “Spotlight”

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Artist: Bosnian Rainbows

Album: Bosnian Rainbows

Must Listen Song: “The Eye Fell In Love”

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Artist: Bowling for Soup

Album: Lunch. Drunk. Love.

Must Listen Song: “Critically Disdained”

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Artist: The Breakfast Machine

Album: Electric 2033

Must Listen Song: “Si, Explosions”

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Artist: The Bronx

Album: The Bronx (IV)

Must Listen Song: “Last Revelation”

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Artist: Christopher Owens

Album: Lysandre

Must Listen Song: “Here We Go”

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Artist: The Civil Wars

Album: The Civil Wars

Must Listen Song: “The One That Got Away”

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Artist: Courrier

Album: Cathedrals of Color

Must Listen Song: “The City at Night”

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Artist: Courtney Jones

Album: All Things That Fall

Must Listen Song: “Back to Me”

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Artist: Cowboy Indian Bear

Album: Live Old, Die Young

Must Listen Song: “Does Anybody See You Out?”

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Artist: Cull the Heard

Album: Reap the Harvest

Must Listen Song: “I Want More”

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Artist: Cults

Album: Static

Must Listen Song: “We’ve Got It”
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Artist:
The Dangerous Summer

Album: Golden Record

Must Listen Song: “Catholic Girls”

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Artist: Danny Rush & the Designated Drivers

Album: Malverde

Must Listen Song: “SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG”

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Artist: Dead Letter Circus

Album: The Catalyst Fire

Must Listen Song: “Say Your Prayers”

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Artist: Deaf Angel

Album: Brutally / Beautiful (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Let You Go”

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Artist: The Dear Hunter

Album: Migrant

Must Listen Song: “An Escape”

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Artist: Dresses

Album: Sun Shy

Must Listen Song: “Friends Are Dead”

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Artist: Eisley

Album: Currents

Must Listen Song: “Save My Soul”

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Artist: Elle Macho

Album: Import

Must Listen Song: “Hey Dude”

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Artist: Fialta

Album: Summer Winter

Must Listen Song: “Photographs”

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Artist: Free Dominguez

Album: Volcano + The Sea

Must Listen Song: “Line in the Sand”

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Artist: The Frisky Disco

Album: The Frisky Disco (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Bobo Cakes”

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Artist: Haim

Album: Days Are Gone

Must Listen Song: “The Wire”

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Artist: Hawthorne Heights

Album: Zero

Must Listen Song: “Darkside”

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Artist: The Head and the Heart

Album: Let’s Be Still

Must Listen Song: “Shake”

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Artist: Home By Hovercraft

Album: Are We Chameleons?

Must Listen Song: “Rocket”
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Artist:
IO Echo

Album: Ministry of Love

Must Listen Song: “Ministry of Love”

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Artist: The Joy Formidable

Album: Wolf’s Law

Must Listen Song: “This Ladder Is Ours”

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Artist: Kaela Sinclair

Album: Sun & Mirror

Must Listen Song: “Original Sin”

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Artist: Kate Nash

Album: Girl Talk

Must Listen Song: “Are You There, Sweetheart?”

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Artist: Kree Woods

Album: Talking Underwater

Must Listen Song: “Hip, Hip”

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Artist: Lily & Madeleine

Album: Lily & Madeleine

Must Listen Song: “Lost Upon the Sea”

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Artist: The Limousines

Album: Hush

Must Listen Song: “Bedbugs”

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Artist: The Lovely Bad Things

Album: The Late Great Whatever

Must Listen Song: “Fried Eyes”

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Artist: Manny the Martyr

Album: Brighter Sun (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Hit the Brink”

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Artist: The Material

Album: Everything I Want to Say

Must Listen Song: “Born to Make a Sound”

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Artist: Mona

Album: Torches & Pitchforks

Must Listen Song: “Goons (Baby, I Need it All)”

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Artist: Monahans

Album: Leveler

Must Listen Song: “Forward/Reverse”

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Artist: Monahans

Album: Roam an Empty Space

Must Listen Song: “Beat of a Thousand Drums”

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Artist: Myla Smith

Album: Hiding Places

Must Listen Song: “Lose Ya” or “Hiding Places”

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Artist: Nicholas Altobelli

Album: Without a Home

Must Listen Song: “Blackout”
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Artist:
Ours

Album: Ballet the Boxer 1

Must Listen Song: “Pretty Pain”

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Artist: Overseas

Album: Overseas

Must Listen Song: “Old Love”

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Artist: Panic Volcanic

Album: Freak Fuzz

Must Listen Song: “Set You Free”

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Artist: Paramore

Album: Paramore

Must Listen Song: “Fast In My Car”

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Artist: Piñata Protest

Album: El Valiente

Must Listen Song: “Life on the Border”

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Artist: The Polyphonic Spree

Album: Yes, It’s True

Must Listen Song: “You Don’t Know Me”

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Artist: The Postelles

Album: …And it Shook Me

Must Listen Song: “Oh My Luck”

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Artist: The Quaker City Night Hawks

Album: Honcho

Must Listen Song: “Lavanderia”

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Artist: Quiet Company

Album: A Dead Man On My Back: Shine Honesty Revisited

Must Listen Song: “…and You Said it Was Pretty Here”

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Artist:
Ra Ra Riot

Album: Beta Love

Must Listen Song: “Dance with Me”

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Artist: Reinventing Jude

Album: Sundial Soliloquy

Must Listen Song: “Wet Cement”

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Artist: The Reynolds Number

Album: The Reynolds Number

Must Listen Song: “Follow You”

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Artist: Rude King

Album: It’ll Probably be Alright

Must Listen Song: “The Answer’s Right In Front Of Me”

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Artist: The Sammus Theory

Album: Entitled Anonymous

Must Listen Song: “Scarlet Letter Devil”

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Artist: Sarah Hurst

Album: Fine to Wait

Must Listen Song: “Fascinate”

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Artist: Sean Michel

Album: Electric Delta

Must Listen Song: “Mississippi Mud”

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Artist: Shannon LaBrie

Album: Just Be Honest

Must Listen Song: “Gettin’ Tired”

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Artist: The Sounds

Album: Weekend

Must Listen Song: “Outlaw”

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Artist: Steven Graves

Album: Time Will Tell

Must Listen Song: “When Things Were Simple”

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Artist: Tony Ferraro & The Satans of Soft Rock

Album: Friend of Man and Beast Alike

Must Listen Song: “Satanic Verses”

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Artist: Triple SP

Album: Disrupting the Harmony

Must Listen Song: “Symptom”

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Artist: Twenty One Pilots

Album: Vessel

Must Listen Song: “House of Gold” & “Semi-Automatic”

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Artist: Un Chien

Album: Un Chien

Must Listen Song: "Gasoline Rainbow"

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Artist: W.A. Fite

Album: Builds. with. Age

Must Listen Song: “Dramatics”

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Artist: We’rewolves

Albums: We’rewolves

Must Listen Song: “Words of a Black Suit Politician”

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Artist: Whiskey Folk

Album: The Lonesome Underground

Must Listen Song: “Lights On the Highway”

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Artist: Wild Child

Album: The Runaround

Must Listen Song: “Crazy Bird”

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Artist: The Will Callers

Album: What Else is Left?

Must Listen Song: “House of Falling Cards”

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Top 10 EP’s of 2013 (
Spotify Playlist)

1.) Artist: Light the Fire

Album: Light the Fire

Must Listen Song: “All Or Nothing”

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2.) Artist: Drayter

Album: Drayter

Must Listen Song: “Scream”

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3.) Artist: Here Holy Spain

Album: Under the Undertow

Must Listen Song: “Golden Gun”

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4.) Artist: Daylight Industries

Album: Faith Healer

Must Listen Song: “Sit In”

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5.) Artist: Son of Swan

Album: Son of Swan

Must Listen Song: "Dog Days"

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6.) Artist: Charming Liars

Album: New Disorder

Must Listen Song: “I’m Losing You”

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7.) Artist: Enamored

Album: Requiem

Must Listen Song: “Never Again”

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8.) Artist: B-Ners

Album: Back to Mexico

Must Listen Song: “Trouble Dog”

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9.) Artist: The Circle

Album: Who I Am

Must Listen Song: “The Other Side”

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10.) Artist: Paco Estrada

Album: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Must Listen Song: “She”
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The Best of the Rest (EP’s) (
Spotify Playlist)

Artist: Amanda Ply

Album: Nothing More Than Me

Must Listen Song: “Stay”

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Artist: Anna Lombard

Album: Head Full of Bells

Must Listen Song: “Leave Town”

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Artist: The Bedlam Brothers

Album: Saddle Up

Must Listen Song: “We Ride Tonight”

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Artist: Best Coast

Album: Fade Away

Must Listen Song: “I Wanna Know”

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Artist: Betray the Dreamer

Album: Betray the Dreamer

Must Listen Song: “Transmissions”

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Artist: Black Books

Album: Aquarena

Must Listen Song: “Favorite Place”

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Artist: Black Taxi

Album: Chiaroscuro

Must Listen Song: “Gone”

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Artist: Brandon Callies Band

Album: Life is Still Good

Must Listen Song: “This Love” (Pantera cover)

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Artist: Bravo Delta

Album: Shutdown Sequence

Must Listen Song: “We Stand, We Fall”

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Artist: Chasin Aces

Album: Lost & Found

Must Listen Song: “Everglow”

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Artist: Criminal Birds

Album: Criminal Birds

Must Listen Song: “Chill Out”

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Artist: Descender

Album: Slow and Gold

Must Listen Song: “The Language”

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Artist: Emily Hearn

Album: Promises

Must Listen Song: “Found a Heart”

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Artist:
The Hanna Barbarians

Album: Spaceway Sessions, Vol. 2

Must Listen Song: "Oh, Spirit"
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Artist: Kirk Baxley

Album: Cold as a Stone

Must Listen Song: “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Veins”

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Artist: Kirk Baxley

Album: Southern Son

Must Listen Song: “Times are Changing”

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Artist: Lovebettie

Album: Rise

Must Listen Song: “Alarm”

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Artist: Mike Mains & the Branches

Album: Everything

Must Listen Song: “In the Night”

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Artist: Motel Mirrors

Album: Motel Mirrors

Must Listen Song: “Meet Me On the Corner”

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Artist: Noelle Bean

Album: Bean EP

Must Listen Song: “Lois Lane”

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Artist: Northern Faces

Album: Southern Places

Must Listen Song: “Under My Skin”

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Artist:  Pageantry

Album: Friends of the Year

Must Listen Song: “Dirt”

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Artist: Phavian

Album: Meridian II

Must Listen Song: “Hexenring”

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Artist: Red Angel Theory

Album: Rise for Something

Must Listen Song: “Inception”

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Artist: Rodney Parker & The 50 Peso Reward

Album: The Apology: Part 2 (NOTE: Technically this is an LP, but since some of the tracks were on Part 1, I decided to classify it as an EP.)

Must Listen Song: “Things You Make Me Do”

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Artist: Royal Savages

Album: Royal Savages (Free download!)

Must Listen Song: “Racing Tears”

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Artist: Signs of Reason

Album: Wake Up

Must Listen Song: “Choke”

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Artist: Sleeperstar

Album: Blue Eyes

Must Listen Song: “Replay”

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Artist: Solice

Album: Live EP

Must Listen Song: “Paralyzed”

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Artist: Susy Sun

Album: Wanderlust

Must Listen Song: “Down”

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Artist: The Swear

Album: Gold and Hymns and Hell

Must Listen Song: “Gold and Hymns and Hell”

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Artist: Swindle Boys

Album: Motion

Must Listen Song: “Secrets In Our Fists”

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Artist: Technicolor Hearts

Album: Under The Big Blue Umbrella Sky

Must Listen Song: “Chorus of Friends”

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Artist: Triphazard

Album: Rushing Roulette

Must Listen Song: “Ribcage”

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Artist: The Unlikely Candidates

Album: Follow My Feet

Must Listen Song: “Just Breathe”

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Artist: Vinyl Pilot

Album: A Beautiful Disaster

Must Listen Song: “A Beautiful Disaster”

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Artist: We the Ghost

Album: Sinking Suspicion

Must Listen Song: “Take Somebody Home”

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Artist: White Elephant

Album: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Must Listen Song: “Song For The Sick And Hopeless”
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Top 10 Concerts of 2013:
1.)
Riverboat Gamblers on Tuesday, 8-20-2013 @ Rubber Gloves.
2.) The Dirty River Boys w/ Whiskey Folk & Matt the Cat Trio on Friday, 11-22-2013 @ Granada Theater.
3.) Nothing More w/ Little Sisters of the Poor, Ursa & The Last Place You Look on Friday, 6-21-2013 @ Trees.
4.) Ours on Saturday, 8-10-2013 @ The Prophet Bar.
5.) Twenty One Pilots on Thursday, 11-14-2013 @ House of Blues.
6.) Sick Puppies w/ Charming Liars on Tuesday, 9-17-2013 @ House of Blues.
7.) Band of Heathens w/ The Southern Renaissance & Jamie Wilson on Friday, 12-20-2013 @ Granada Theater.
8.) Centro-matic w/ Tony Ferraro & the Satans of Soft Rock on Thursday, 1-31-2013 @ Dan’s Silverleaf.
9.) Muse w/ Dead Sara on Wednesday, 3-13-2013 @ American Airlines Center.
10.) Ishi (Digital Wounds CD release show) on Friday, 5-3-2013 @ Granada Theater.
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There’s no doubt that 2013 was the best year yet for this little ol’ blog, in terms of traffic an such. I’d also have to say it was the most fun year I’ve had doing this thus far.

Let’s see; In all, I saw (and reviewed) 127 concerts this year. Marking not only my 500th concert, but also my 600th within this past 365 days. I attended my 100th concert (and then some) at my favorite venue, The Curtain Club. I went to SXSW (something I’ll hopefully repeat in 2014) for the first time ever, which was truly something else. The copious amounts of free music going on during that must be what heaven is like. Seriously, 10+ hour  days spent seeing a ton of bands from all over the world was great.

Aside from that, 2013 saw the official launch of On Tour Monthly, an online webzine I’m fortunate enough to be a staff writer for and contribute reviews to from time to time. There’s a ton of potential with that, and the websites already generating some good buzz, and it’s just a privilege to be a small part of it.

I also met and formed a partnership with a newer organization in the Dallas music scene; DFW Undercover.

So, as my seventh year of doing this draws to a close, I have to say, I feel good about it all. I’ve managed to carve out a good little niche for myself, but above that, I’ve met some awesome people, be them band members or fellow fans like myself.

And while I don’t say this nearly often enough, thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever visited this site. Thanks to everyone who has ever read anything I wrote or shared a review I did, or anything else that has been supportive. I’ve said since I started doing this that even if I can reach just one person and turn them on to a band they weren’t familiar with before, I’ll be satisfied. I still stand by that sentiment.

After all, whatever your passion is in, you don’t do that with the sole goal of getting famous or anything. Sure, that would be a nice by-product, but that’s not what it’s all about. Whether you’re a photographer, a musician, an aspiring writer like myself, or whatever, it’s about the sheer love you have for what you enjoy doing, because it’s an extension of yourself. And in the end, that’s more than enough.

Anyway, I hope you’ll all continue to enjoy the in-depth concert reviews I’ll be posting in the year to come.

Happy 2014!

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.

Album Review: “Light the Fire” by Light the Fire

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There’s not a band alive that isn’t familiar with trials and tribulations, after all, it’s both critical and crucial to a bands development. The Dallas/Greenville based metal act Light the Fire is certainly no exception to that. In fact, their sophomore record, a self-titled EP, was forged out of such circumstances.

In late 2012 the band traveled to Massachusetts to record at Zing Studios, all under the guidance of producer Eric Arena, recording three songs that would be the basis of their second EP. Then, at the start of 2013, the band found themselves having to fill the suddenly vacated vocalist position, a change that ultimately meant the vocals for the songs they had laid down would have to be re-recorded. In the end, that worked out for the best, though, allowing them time to write a few more tracks to add to the EP, with the end result being an extremely well-crafted album.

“All Or Nothing” is the first offering on Light the Fire’s latest effort and it’s guaranteed to suck you in, making sure you stick around for the duration of this 22-minute long experience. It boasts an insanely tight, dominating and complimentary rhythm section, courtesy of Blake Hein and Andrew Penland, the drummer and bassist, respectively. Those two instruments shine especially bright on this track, though they are of course balanced out by the stellar riffs and solo from lead guitarist Ryan Dickinson. The whole chorus, “I get the feeling that you don’t feel anything. Every day is a brand new struggle for me. Right now it’s all or nothing…”, has a catchy quality to it, even inspiring, and taking that last sentence out of context, it also seems to paint an accurate statement of where the band is at right now. After all, this record could well be the make it or break it point for the group, so in a way, it kind of is “all or nothing”.

The five-piece outfit shows off their true metal chops on the next song, “Stick To Your Guns”, with Jeff Gunter screaming out the verses, his distinctive tone that is audible when he sings translating over, ensuring that regardless of what he’s doing, be it singing or screaming, you won’t get him mixed up with any other vocalist. Lyrically, it’s another poignant song, essentially about following your dreams, whatever they may be. “Believe in what you find inside yourself. We’re shooting for the stars and nothing less…” sings Jeff, a line that will no doubt connect with many listeners, while simultaneously again being reflective of these musicians and the journey they’ve all taken on their musical careers. There’s also a killer instrumental breakdown, albeit a short one, that begins around the halfway point of the song, giving everyone, including rhythm guitarist Felix Lopez, their own little moment.

The full-blown metal sound only accelerates with the next track, “Forever Grateful”, and the band reaches a new height with it. It’s arguably the heaviest thing Light the Fire has ever written, and it’s also an instant classic of theirs. Jeffs’ stentorian screaming is much more aggressive, even course in relation to the previous track, which is a large part of what makes the song so irresistible. Even more impressive, though, is his ability to change his tone at the drop of a hat, switching to his singing voice for the chorus, “…I hear your voice and I crumble to pieces. I fall into you…” That’s another thing about this heavy hitter, it’s a love song, and a rather moving one at that, showing that not all emotional songs need to be in a ballad form, or even slow for that matter. The raw intensity is offset with some occasional and subtle elements, though, including a serene sounding bridge.

“Reflection” is another more impassioned song, and the closest thing to a lull you’ll find on this record. It ebbs and flows very well, the guitars, bass and drums letting up on the verses to ensure the depth of the lyrics are properly conveyed, allowing it to make a real impact on the listener. That’s not to undercut the music, though, either, and when things take off, it can hold its own against the songs pretty well, making “Reflection” a true gem.

“The Masquerade”, which is the final original song on the EP, gets off to a roaring start with some fast paced instrumentalization that will no doubt have you banging your head about. It’s another powerhouse track, again showcasing a dazzling guitar solo and some strong bass lines, with their even being a short bass solo after the first chorus but before the second verse. I smell another fan favorite with this song, and for their original material, it’s a great way to conclude things, though Light the Fire does have one last song in store for everybody.

Now, for those familiar with the outfit, you know the band likes to have as much fun as possible (while still maintaining the professional showmanship a band needs), and the final song on this EP shows off that side. The band pays homage to the classic hard rock/metal band The Scorpions by doing a rendition of “No One Like You”. They leave their mark on the over thirty year old song, putting more of a current metal spin on parts of it, complete with searing screams. They aren’t simply covering the song; they are owning it, making it entirely their own, which results in a delightful end to things.

Before I’ve said that what sets the greatest bands apart from the good (and even great for that matter) is when a group can show growth, pushing themselves to another level. That’s a quality that abounds on “Light the Fire”.

At a pivotal point in their career (i.e. the member changes and such), they were forced to come together and strengthen their bonds more than most bands, and that solidified camaraderie is evident merely in listening to this album. On that note, so too is the blood, sweat and tears they no doubt poured into this. All the hard work they put into making this latest album comes through on every single note and every last word, and will make an impact on you.

I don’t mean this as a slight against their debut “Note to Self”, but these guys have truly outdone themselves with this self-titled album. Going back to band’s growth, this record is superior in every way. The songs are even deeper in terms of lyrics, and I guarantee everyone will form a connection to at least one of the tracks, while musically it sounds more mature and defined, like they’ve truly come into their own, while still retaining the elements that made their first EP so great.

In a just world, “Light the Fire” will be a key stepping stone in getting the band onto the national stage, but even if that doesn’t work out, I see this becoming one of the best, most solid releases from a North Texas based band, leaving its mark for years to come.

(Side note: For those who might be saying, “I don’t like metal, so I probably wouldn’t like Light the Fire.”, let me just say, generally, I don’t like metal, either. It’s just a genre that is heavier than what I prefer, and yes, LTF is a heavy band. They are also one of the only exceptions of metal bands I not only like, but love. So, regardless of musical preferences, just give ‘em a listen.)

Light the Fire is:
Jeff Gunter- Vocals
Ryan Dickinson- Guitar
Felix Lopez- Guitar
Andrew Penland- Bass
Blake Hein- Drums

Purchase the album on:
iTUNES / Bandcamp / For physical copies visit their ONLINE STORE ($3 + shipping)

Visit Light the Fire’s websites:
Official Website / Facebook / Instagram / Reverbnation / Twitter

Current Shows:
July 27th at Curtain Club in Dallas (CD release show!) / August 2nd at Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas (Vans Warped Tour) / August 17th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth / August 24th at The Railhead Saloon in Lawton, OK / September 7th at Wits End in Dallas / September 21st at The Hanger in Greenville / September 26th at The Red Eyed Fly in Austin / September 27th at The Abby Underground in Denton / September 28th at The Railhead Saloon in Lawton, OK / October 12th at Zombies in San Antonio / October 25th at Gilley’s in Dallas / October 26th at Hailey’s in Denton
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Photo credit: James Villa Photography

Saturday, June 23rd, 2013 – Light the Fire

This was a bit of a monumental night for me at the Curtain Club. Why? Because the show I went to this night marked the one-hundredth concert I’ve seen at the storied Dallas venue. It only took a little over seven years to rack up that many shows here, and I think the fact that I have been here so much should be some type of testament as to how fantastic the venue truly is.

The Greenville based Drag the Waters was the first band up this night, and were already most of the way through their set when I got there.

This was the second time I’ve seen a portion of their set (I saw a little bit of a show they did here back in April), and I liked them even more this time around. The four-piece just plays some good hard rock music, in more of the classic hard rock vein. It’s good stuff, and they added some humor into their show, too, whether it was intended or not. Like, when promoting the other bands on the bill, bassist Dewayne Dickeson couldn’t remember the act following them, which was Tejasmosis, and one of the band members from that group shouted out their name. “…I’m sorry, I only speak Texan and English…” he said, being completely sincere about not remembering the name.

As of right now their next gig is going to be a hometown in Greenville at the Texas Beach Club, so check it out if you’re in the area.

As mentioned, Tejasmosis was next up, and they proved to be just a little too metal for my tastes. I know that might sound funny given the remaining bands on the bill, but their stuff was just too heavy for me. They do what they do quite well, though.

The band did mention they would be dropping a new album the following week, which by now is out and should be available in iTUNES. So, if you like metal music, check it out.

Following them was yet another bad I was mostly unfamiliar with, and that was the Denton based Like Bridges We Burn.

They kicked their 34-minute long set off with the lead track from their “Fresh Out the Kitchen” EP, “With a Smile”, which reeled me in from the get-go. They were as much rock as they were metal, and front man Jason Mckee had a pretty good singing voice, and could also muster quite the scream, and he alternated between the two styles often, not only on that song, but throughout the set.

They played a majority of that 2011 EP this night, and next cranked out another quick-paced number, “This World”, during which guitarists Aaron Burcombe and Jonathan Dancause darted around the stage, rocking out on their instruments, and Joel Kunze did the same with his bass. “…This is Down the Rabbit Hole” said Jason before they ripped into one of the most intense songs of their set, where a lot of screaming was done in a very guttural way, though I enjoyed it and it added a certain depth to the song.

Once they finished it up, Jason pointed out they had a new member in the band, asking everyone to say, “Hello, Jonahthan.” He quickly realized his mistake and laughed at it, as did the crowd, and he corrected it with the right name, Jonathan. Soon, they started a newer song they’ve done, “Melting Hearts”. “It’ll melt you heart.” One of the band members added before they started it. It was a great song, and another one I really liked was the one they followed it with.

They continued on the heavier metal streak with their latest release, “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy”, which was a very solid, catchy track, though they gave it an unexpected ending when there was some feedback from the guitars. Yeah, it was noticeable, but hardly bad enough to ruin it or anything, and they joked that, that was the new “feedback ending”.

“Reckless Keri” began to wind things down, and almost seemed like it might be their final song, at least until Jason asked the audience if they wanted to hear one more song. “This songs about zombies?” said one of the guitarists, making it into more of a question instead of a statement, before they closed with a song called “Over My Undead Body”, which was another good blend of metal and rock.

Yeah, they were heavier than what I typically listen to, but my main qualm with metal music is the bands that constantly scream on a song, something Like Bridges We Burn did not do, and in small(er) doses, I can certainly handle some violent screams.

Their live show was great, and so was their music. Actually, I’m regretting not having listened to them sooner. Definitely a group to check out.

You can purchase their music in iTUNES, and they have several shows coming up, including another show here at the Curtain Club on July 27th. Before that (in early July) they’ll be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on the 13th, then Andy’s in Denton on the 19th, with a show in Tyler at Click’s on the 20th.

Up next was a band in a similar vein as them, and one I knew I would like, since I was here to see Light the Fire.

It had already been about four months since I last saw the band, and at that time the new singer they had found only had a few shows under his belt as part of the band, and I was eager to see how solidified they were now.

Like usual, they had some fun at the start of their set as a rap song began to play, and drummer Blake Hein was playing along with it. The other instrumentalist sported some glasses and bobbed their heads along to the music before firing up some of their own stuff as singer Jeff Gunter ran on stage, his energy being obviously abundant and it was also a little infectious as they tore into their first song. Like normal, that opener was “Don’t Fail Me Now”, which seemed to have even more urgency to it than usual, and Jeff did a great job of commanding the crowd from the start, hunkering down on the monitors at times, surveying the crowd at more of an eye level.

Speaking of urgency, their whole set was laced with it and they had things tightened up even more than usual, and no sooner had the final notes of that song been played then Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez started the guitar lines that begin the title track of their first EP, “Note To Self”. Lyrically, that is still the song that perfectly sums up the band’s determination, from talking about pushing forward to matter what, and the brilliant line, “…My dreams are everything I can’t let slip away…”. They kept things going as the sample track for “Thoughts” kicked on, giving Jeff plenty of time to hype the crowd up some more by asking everyone to jump up and down to the heavier track.

“Has anyone heard of a band called Killswitch Engage?” Jeff asked everyone after finishing that previous song. Of course the people had, and he mentioned that late last year they got to use the same recording studio that band does, which segued them into one of their newer songs which they laid down during that trip. It was a “couples skate” song as Jeff put it, but not in the sweeter manner that you might expect. In fact, a mosh pit was more likely to break out during that heavy-hitter, and I’m fairly certain one did (people were moshing often enough it’s hard to remember which songs it was going on and which ones it wasn’t.) Also on that number, Ryan rocked out a sweet guitar solo, and soon that song gave way to the explosive “Under My Skin”.

Bassist Andrew Penland started jumping up and down during the songs second chorus, still slapping the bass strings as he did so, completing the songs powerful rhythm section. Once it was finished, they took a little time out to connect with the crowd more, and Jeff mentioned they had played in Fort Worth not long, and asked everyone if Dallas was better. “…There’s a reason it’s called Dallas/Fort Worth and not Fort Worth/Dallas, right?” he asked everyone as the roared back at him in agreeance. They soon continued on with their next song, another new one, which Jeff stated was his favorite. A fan instantly started shouting the songs title, and Jeff lowered the mic down so the guys could say it, and he shouted, “Thunder Cunt!” That beast of a song grows on me each time I hear it, and is one of my favorites, too. Sure, it’s much heavier than what I typically like, but these guys make it sound fantastic.

They followed it with another new song, which Jeff said was for the “local music lovers”, and it was titled Salute”. Felix got that one going, jumping up on one of the light boxes they had placed on either side of the stage which bore the bands logo and was illuminated with a red light, and shredding on his axe. There was also another good moment during that one when Andrew and Felix seemed to be chasing each other as they ran around in circles after one another, just having fun and they didn’t miss a note while doing it.

That brought them to the final song of their 34-minute long set, which wasn’t an original. A little while back the band recorded and released their take on a Scorpions tune. That song was “No One Like You” and they put a very metal spin on it, making it a good, fun way to conclude their set.

In the end, this was one of if not the best Light the Fire show I’ve seen yet. Even early on it was evident Jeff was a good fit with them, but now that he’s had plenty of time to get worked in and they’ve established some chemistry you could tell he was much more comfortable with them on stage.

That wasn’t even confined to just him, either, because they’ve been playing so much lately they’ve really tightened up and expanded on the already high-energy performance they put on. For example, the segues from song to song helped with the flow and, and something as simple as connecting songs together like that can make a band seem so much more professional.

They’re an incredible band, and the show this night was proof of that.

Next month will be a big one for them, as they return to the Curtain Club on July 27th to celebrate the release of their sophomore release. That will be part of their tour with their friends Like Bridges We Burn, and Light the Fire will also be playing Tomcats West in Fort Worth on July 13th, Andy’s in Denton on the 19th and Click’s in Tyler on the 20th. They also have some dates scheduled for August and September, so check out their REVERBNATION PAGE for those dates. As for their music, check out their first EP in iTUNES, and in the next month or so you should also be able to find their next EP there.

The night was already getting late, but there was still one band left to go, and that was Social Jab, who was doing a reunion show.

I never really thought the band was as big as they deserved to be. Not that they should have been famous, but locally they just never seemed to have the fan base they should have. Sure, I never saw them much either, but I was a fan of theirs and was disappointed that there was never a real farewell show or anything. Instead, they just faded in obscurity. But that’s what this reunion show was for, to give a little more closure to the hard rock outfit.

The lineup this night wasn’t the original one, as they lacked Dave Shafer on bass and had gotten a replacement, and also Chad Abbott, who was later welcomed in as the rhythm guitarist, was absent, but three-fourths of the core members were there, and that was what really mattered.

It had been about four years since the last time I had seen the band, but as soon as they got “Actors” going it sort of refreshed my memory, and vocalist Joel Purifoy repeatedly asked everyone to “get the fuck up” to the stage. I had forgotten what a killer song that was, and it sounded every bit as good as it did a few years back, and got their show off to a nice start. The substitute bassist rolled them into their next song with some at first soupy lines, before guitarist Dan Rivera and drummer Thomas Stewart joined in, and it suddenly became the best of their 33-minute long set.

There were only a handful of people who had stuck around, most of whom applauded the bands efforts after that song, but it wasn’t loud enough for Joel. “We’re all schizophrenics here…” he said, “It should be twice as loud as that!” The rock than continued with “Slow”, which opens with some sweet guitar lines, and one cool moment of the song was when Dan ran up on the drum riser, standing right beside Thomas as he shredded on his guitar. After “Reflections”, they did another knockout track, “All Away”, after which Joel formerly introduced the bass player, Graham, as he asked everyone to cheer for him. “…We’re not playing another song until you do…” he told the people, though they soon moved on to one of their final songs.

With “Over Now” Joel got to put his pedal board to use a little more than he had, adding some effects to his voice at various times, which was what made the song stand out so in my opinion. Joel mentioned several times that this next song would be their last one, but for a little while I thought it was all a ploy, since it was a cover song. I had completely forgotten they used to do an old U2 song from time to time, and now they rocked out “Bullet the Blue Sky”, which was a bit heavier than U2’s version and Joel did much more screaming than Bono did. That’s what allowed them to make it their own, though, and during the instrumental outro Dan removed his guitar, laying it on the floor as he grabbed the massive chain that is his guitar strap, using one of the links to play his axe, almost in the manner that a steel pedal guitarist plays that instrument. It was cool to see, and caused several people to rush towards the stage so they could snap a picture of it.

Sure enough, that did end up being the show, and while that was a memorable way to end it, I was a slightly disappointed they neglected some songs, specifically their single, “Blurred Vision”. It was a great show all the same though, I guess.

Considering they hadn’t played live in years and one of the members was a hired gun, they did excellent, and it was as if they picked up exactly where they left off. And while Social Jab might officially be done now, I wish the best of luck to the guys on their future endeavors, which will hopefully include performing more original music in different projects. Dan’s a killer guitarist, Thomas is a bad ass drummer, and Joel has one of the more distinctive voices I’ve heard and can pen some great songs.

All in all it was another night of awesome local music at the Curtain Club. Now, to start to work on seeing another set of a hundred shows here.

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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Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 – Light the Fire

There was a bit of a heavier line-up of bands at The Curtain Club this night, and while I didd’t know most of the bands, that didn’t matter, because I knew Light the Fire would be more than worth it. Plus this was the bands final Dallas show for anywhere from three to four months, making it even more of a must see.

When I arrived the first band, Allison Red, was up on stage, probably about halfway through their set. I had listened to them online a few months back, and didn’t much care for them, but the live product was much better. The main thing I wasn’t sure about on their recording was the voice of David McClanahan, which sounded much better live, and the rest of the band put on a decent, enjoyable live show. I wish I had seen more of them, but oh well, some other time.

Second up was a band called The 8th Digit, who had the biggest crowd of the night. That meant one of two things to me, either they were really good or they had a lot of friends. It was probably a little bit of both, but more of the former than the latter.

Before the curtain even opened you heard the groups singer, Kenny Poovey, let out a deep, ear piercing  scream, asking, “ARE YOU READY?!” Judging from that scream, I didn’t think I was anywhere near ready, and that they would be much heavier than what I like. That deafening scream was misleading, though, and while they did have a harder rock sound, Kenny at least actually sang. By the time they were maybe halfway through their second song, I was well passed being impressed. They then somewhat slowed things down with “Prayers”, though drummer, Adrian Barajas, and bassist, Dave Garred, still gave it a pretty heavy sound. Things picked back up with “The Seeker”, which they said they were currently recording and would be their second single. A pretty killer cover of Chevelle’s, “The Red”, followed, and after original of theirs, they took things down several notches. Okay, I know every band has the one slow song they do, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that The 8th Digit has one, but still, I like how they show off a different side of the band, and these guys were able to pull it off rather well. They had enough time left in their 41 minute set to do four more songs, and that was that.

To still be as new as they evidently are, they didn’t act it on stage. They all seemed pretty cohesive and had good stage presence and energy. Go see for yourself, as they have a couple shows coming up. One on July 14th at Andy’s in Denton, and the other is August 18th at The Hanger in Greenville, TX.

Last Day Living was next. I caught them a few different times last year, during which time they changed out their singer, and as the curtain revealed them tonight, they had gone through another line-up change. Now, they are just a four-piece, with one of the bands guitarists, Shawn, taking over on the vocals.

In the past, he added some backing vocals to the songs, though they were more screams, so upon seeing him at center stage, I wondered how their set was going to be. As they started their first song, it sounded as if Shawn had worked on his voice, and was much better than the backing vocals he used to do. “…This is a brand new one… It’s called The Vision” he said, after their first tune. Out of their entire 37 minute set, I liked that one the best, as it had a very good sound. Drummer, Josh, started them off on the next song, “Bleeding Me Dry”, and after another, they did one off their only CD, “Repent”. “This one’s for our friend “Dimebag”…” Shawn said, as lead guitarist, Paris Pipkin, started picking away at the song. Next up was one that carried a little more emotion than most of their stuff, as they said it was about any soldiers who were fighting for America, or had giving their lives for the country, with one of the lines being something like (and I want to acknowledge that I am paraphrasing this, and probably poorly at that.) “…Will this be the last goodbye?…” It was a fantastic song, telling a story I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. After another newer one, “Disease”, they did a tune that Shawn said was about a girl who decided to take her own life, called “Twisted Smile”, and then ended with he said was their anthem, and anyone who knew anything about them and probably heard the song before. I’ve never cared much for “Wake the Dead”, which has parts that sound like hip-hop, but tonight, I found myself enjoying it. And yes, I would credit that to the new(ish) vocals they have going on.

It was a good set they did, though, something seemed be missing from it. I think that was a “true” frontman who was free roam about the stage, as I just felt that they were a bit confined this night. They all rocked it, including bassist, “Irish”, but they all stayed on respective sides of the stage, and while it may have been a good set, I never felt it fully take off, either.

Their next show is slated to go down at The Hanger in Greenville, TX on August 4th. Also, you can find their album, “Dead on Arrival”, in iTunes.

Finally, it was time for Light the Fire. Their intro music, which is some hip-hop song, started to play, and as the curtain opened on them, guitarist, Ryan Dickinson, stood on one of their boxes on stage right, wearing a pair of sunglasses, and he and the rest of the band just had some fun with the song before they got their stuff going, which didn’t take long. Their fill-in drummer launched them into their first song, “Don’t Fail Me Now”, as bassist, Andrew Penland, Ryan, and fellow guitarist, Felix Lopez, began rocking out and thrashing around to the more metal sounding song. The first several times I listened to that song I wasn’t too keen on the screams that make up a majority of the song, though they have grown on me a lot. And as Jamie Glasgow belted out the first line of the song, which I think is, “Now’s our time to step onto the plank…”, in his deep, throaty scream, it sounded incredible. The songs a great way to set the tone of their set, as it’s very raw and shows you what the band is all about, and that is putting on a fun, unadulterated rock show. They didn’t give themselves much downtime in between songs, as Ryan started them into the title track of their EP, “Note To Self”, while Jamie worked the crowd to build the energy. As they finished the second chorus, “…We are the proud, we are the strong, and we’ll carry on.”, Andrew darted from center stage back to his mic stand on stage left, and began to repeatedly shout “HEY!” for the songs bridge. They took things down with “Save Me”, during which Jamie held the microphone out to some fans, letting them sing part of the second verse, “…A new day, same old fight. Still I see no end in sight.” Once it was over, he said something like, “We’re gonna pick this fucking thing back up now!” as they went almost straight into one of their newer songs. I didn’t catch the title of it, though it was one of the best of their set, and if you go and listen to “Don’t Fail Me Now”, I’d say this new one mines a vein similar to it. “Next song is our bounce song.” stated Jamie, asking everyone to jump up and down to the intro of “Thoughts”. Jumping wasn’t the only thing the crowd did, though, as a mosh pit of a handful of people also broke out. One last song from their EP, “Under My Skin”, was next, while they capped off their 30 minute set with another new one they’ve worked up, which had a nice little guitar solo from Ryan.

They may have had the shortest set of any band this night, but in the seven songs they have and the 30 minutes it took to play them, they put on the most amazing performance of the night. The other two shows I’ve seen I’ve thought have been great, but I’ve heard otherwise from the band, due either to technical difficulties or Jamies’ voice not being at its peak ability. I thought they were just being humble by saying that, which they probably were. But this night, when everything fell into the exact working order that it should, these guys transformed into a whole new beast of a band than what I had seen before. They were impeccable this night, and served as the perfect example of what a band should be like when they are spot on, both as a working unit and as the individual components that comprise the band.

As I mentioned earlier, this was their final performance in Dallas until the fall. The reason being they are going to Massachusetts in September to record their next album. They do have a few shows left on tap, though. They will be in Lawton, Oklahoma on July 14th at the Railhead Saloon. July 26th will find them at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and finally, on August 11th, they will be at Hartline’s Texas Beach Club in Greenville, TX. So, go see one of those shows if possible, snag a free download of their title track from their REVERBNATION PAGE, and purchase the “Note to Self” EP in iTunes.

Slow to the Cause was the final band of the night. Their singer’s voice was the main thing I disliked about them, but, like most bands, I had to give them a chance. The first song they did didn’t do much for me, but I hoped it would get better. It didn’t, and after the second song I headed out.

It was a fantastic night of music, and leave it to The Curtain Club to host such a night. I want to again thank the great guys of Light the Fire for hooking me up with a ticket to the show. Not only are they an amazing band, but are incredible people, and if you like their music, do support them in every way possible (i.e. buy their CD, go to a show, etc.).

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, May 19th, 2012 – Light the Fire

The Boiler Room was hosting a night of pretty hard rock music, and while some of the bands were pushing it sound wise for me, others I was a fan of and looked very forward to seeing.

Murderers/Thieves
was the first band of the night and was mostly done by the time I got there at nearly 9 o’clock. They were not my type of music, as their singer did more throaty screaming than anything. I know some people like that, and that’s fine, but through years of occasionally seeing bands like that, it still fails to personally appeal to me.

Second up was Black Tie Vendetta. I was looking real forward to seeing these guys, not just because they rock, but because their live shows are few and far between these days. They got off to loud start, as Johnny Sillers beat out some beats on the drums, while Dustin Morrison and Dustin Baugh layered some guitar notes/feedback over it all, with Joe Bandy doing the same thing on his bass. It was a killer intro, and soon enough they ripped into their first song, a new one, as vocalist, Brandon Callies, began to get into the music as he made his way to the front of the stage. It was a helluva way to get things going, as it was really attention grabbing. Before the show I said hey to Brandon, who told me, “Be kind…”, saying he was having some allergy trouble and his voice wasn’t at its best. It sounded much better than what I think he thought it did, but during their next song, “Into The Current”, it did fluctuate a bit. Nothing bad, and while it was noticeable, this was the only song were I heard anything of the like happen. Dustin M. got the next song, “Carries Me Away”, going with a hypnotic riff, and afterwards they cranked out another new song. Brandon looked at the setlist to see what was coming next, and seemed excited when he saw what it was. Then again, I was excited too when he said the song was called “Armed and Ready”. There’s no doubt that this is the bands most explosive song, especially on the chorus, while Brandon sings, “By the fear in my heart, the light in my eye I’ll carry on. The rain overhead, the thorn in my side I’ll carry on…” They followed it with what Brandon said was a “…Dime tribute song…”, “Watch It Go”, and as the final drum beats rang out, Dustin M. ripped into the next tune, mixing it perfectly into “Things You Hold”. They then had one final song left of their 30 minute set, closing it with another new one. And while I said that about how fantastic “Armed and Ready” is, this song they ended with could really give it a run for its money, as it was a pure adrenaline rush of rock.

It was a nice little set, with both of their EPs being well represented, with a right amount of new material tossed in, too. And they know how to put on an entertaining stage show, with Brandon and Dustin B. being the most intense of the performers, while Joe, Johnny and Dustin M. still rock out, focusing more on their skills at their respective instruments. And while they do rock out, they still make it fun and enjoyable, not only for the fans, but you can also tell they are having a blast.

Their shows are very sparse these days, since Brandon now lives in Austin, but I’m just glad they are still together. Better yet, they are even working on a new album, and they even have a show coming up on July 14th at The Hanger in Greenville, Texas.

American High was up next, and they were ready to get the crowd pumped up. A percussion heavy sample track kicked in as vocalist, Seth Davis, threw his fist in the air, pumping it to the beat and saying something like, “Let me see your hands!” No sooner had he said that though, then the track abruptly quit, leaving the band in dismay. For a few minutes, they didn’t know what to do, even questioning if they should attempt that intro again, and, at the urging of their fans, they did, this time without a hitch. Performance wise these guys were great, musically it was very enjoyable, but when it came to the singing, I was a bit on the fence. Overall, I did like it, but there were some songs where there was enough screaming that it pushed what I like in music.

I’d promote their stuff, but there’s no way to buy their CD online that I can find, nor do I see any upcoming shows, but do go give them a listen.

Light the Fire was next, and it was pretty obvious that the majority of the people here this night were there to see these guys. Making it a special show for them was that this was the final show they were doing for their live DVD shoot. I was looking forward to this, and had for awhile. I’d heard of the band before, but never listened to them until a few months ago when their bassist, Andrew, emailed me and asked if I’d write a review of their EP. I gladly did, and became a real fan in the process. And now I was going to see what a live performance was like.

It took awhile to set up, not only their gear but also all the cameras. Once they were ready vocalist, Jamie Glasgow, leaned out towards the crowd and you could feel everyone’s pent up energy start to culminate, just waiting to spill out. He introduced who the band was for anyone who might not have known, and as he did so an intro track of sorts played in the background. It was a hip-hop song of all things, and added a fun little vibe to it all, then announced the first song of their 30 minute set, “Don’t Fail Me Now”. The intro to this song is awesome on the recording, but seeing it play out live is something else completely. Paul Brown has some serious skills on the drums, as he let loose an array of beats on the entire kit, making it look easy. Soon, Jamie began screaming into the faces of the crowd, and the moshing started. That one is one of the most intense songs LTF has, and the way it starts off you’d never guess what an amazing singing voice Jamie has, as at the chorus it switches from a beastly scream to true singing on the line “So don’t fail me now, this dream is mine. And our time is now…”, before going back to that intoxicating scream. They followed it with the title track of their EP, “Note to Self”, as Ryan Dickinson got most of the spotlight at first with his guitar solo/intro. That’s actually something a lot of their songs feature, guitar solos, with this one having a true, blistering solo at the end. After that more encouraging song about chasing your dreams and not letting anything stop you, they slowed things down a bit one of my favorites, “Save Me”. Compared to their other material, it’s a pretty slow song, but I think it’s nice to see a different side of band (this one especially) and I love the first verse, “Miles away from who I am. The mirrors reflect what I can’t stand. Broken down, I live in spite. I see no end in sight…” Jamie was ready to bring things back up, though, and made a remark to that effect. So what they did was a new song of theirs, which if I read their setlist correctly was called “Lies”. It was a killer song, and shows that they have no intentions of letting up. In fact, I think it was even grittier and more in-your-face than what was on their first record. Two more heavy songs followed, first with “Under My Skin”, and then the epic, “Thoughts”. They had one song left, but before it Jamie took a moment to thank everyone, not just for coming out to this specific show, but those who came out to every show and make it possible for them to continue doing what they love. “…And it’s because of you we are going to go to Massachusetts to record our next record…” Even better news is they are going to record at Zing Studios (used by Killswitch Engage, All That Remains and others) with producer, Eric Arena. So to wrap up their set they did another new song that will probably wind up, and while I don’t think I heard Jamie correctly as he named the song, I at least heard the title as, “My Death, Your Perception”. Since I was at the Boiler Room last, they have added something to extend the stage a bit, and during that final song, Ryan walked back out on it to shred, and bassist, Andrew Penland, did the same, really rocking out from the glimpses I caught of him.

That was the only bad thing I can find with this show, which was from where I stood towards the side of the stage to avoid the mosh pit, my view was limited, and I couldn’t see Andrew or the other guitarist, Felix Lopez, too much. But really, when my view of the band is the worst thing I can say about their set, that’s pretty good. So all that aside, the live show phenomenal, and the energy they pack into it is infectious. Jamie was constantly trying to get the fans as engaged as possible, rather it be singing along, to pumping their fists in the air, and even on one song, jumping. Now, I’m not a “jumper”, and I’ve seen many bands who have asked that of the crowd and I personally ignored it, but there was something about this that was different, and I found myself jumping up and down along with everyone else. All of that helped make it a fun show, and on that note, you can tell just by watching them perform they are having a blast being on stage and doing what they are doing. And when I see a band like that, that is noticeable having fun, it makes me enjoy it all the more.

Light the Fire will be recording their next record more towards the fall, so they need all the support they can get at their next shows. They have one in Lawton, Oklahoma on June 1st. They will also be back there at the Railhead on July 14th. On June 7th they will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth for a show presented by Torch Entertainment, where, along with some other local bands, they will be opening for a couple of national touring acts. June 23rd will see them at the Curtain Club in Dallas for their final Dallas show until they finish recording the album. Also, on August 11th they will be at Hartline’s Texas Beach Club in Greenville, Texas.

Do check out one of those shows if at all possible, and also purchase their “Note to Self” EP on iTunes and get a free download of the title track from their REVERBNATION PAGE.

Last up was Onward We March. I had listened to their stuff online and was immediately turned off of their music due to all the screaming, but still, I figured I’d give them a chance. Four songs was what I stuck around for, which was two more than what I had told myself I’d stick around for. I was on the fence about them, because after all the screaming that was done, their vocalist would turn it around, actually singing… Quite well, I might add. Still, it wasn’t enough to balance it all out for me, and as they began their fifth song I headed towards the door.

If heavy progressive metal is your thing though, check ‘em out. You can get a couple songs for free download from their REVERBNATION PAGE and purchase their EP, “The Golden Vine”, on iTunes.

There may have only been two bands I was avidly into this night, but it was still an all around great show. And I can at least respect those other bands for what they are, even if it doesn’t fit my personal music tastes. Oh, and I want to give one last word of thanks to Andrew of Light the Fire for hooking me up with a couple tickets. Thank you, sir!

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NOTE: Some amazingly talented individuals and myself have partnered up to create RYA Entertainment. We give you all the benefits of working with a major label (booking and promotional experience, industry connections, strength in numbers) without the hassles and cost associated with signing to a label. If your band would be interested in working with us in any of those aspects or performing at a future show of ours, contact me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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Album Review: “Note to Self” by Light the Fire

EPs have their drawbacks. Aside from being short (depending on how many songs are on them) you typically only see one side of the band. Actually, that’s not necessarily just true for EPs, but also full-length records. Sure, bands typically do one or two slow songs, but for the most part, they all tend to be pretty straightforward and stick with what is comfortable to them.

The Greenville and Dallas, Texas based band, Light the Fire, decided to break that trend with their debut release, “Note to Self”. There may only be six songs on this EP, but in the twenty-two plus minutes it takes this record to play out, you also find out how versatile they are. In all, there are three different, distinct styles of rock you will hear. All of which the band pulls off as feeling right at home while playing them.

The first three songs mine more of a typical rock genre, with a bit of a harder edge at times, and beginning this EP is “Note to Self”. The instrumental lead in to this song is about as epic as the song itself, beginning with what to me sounds reminiscent of an older rock style, with the crashing of the cymbals finding their way in at just the right moments, before the drums pick up the pace as the remaining instruments then fire up. The song has more of a radio friendly sound to it, with both the music and vocalist Jamie Glasgow’s voice being similar to what you hear in mainstream music. I do think this has a little more depth and makes a better connection with the listeners than most of what you hear in mainstream, though. The chorus even has a slight pop feel to it, as Jamie sings, “We are the proud, we are the strong, and although we fall we’ll carry on…”. However, there are moments in which you catch their harder side, which really comes out on the bridge/outro. The song takes a sudden turn into being more metal, with the rhythm section rising up as Jamie sings the next few lines in a deep, throaty scream. Personally, I’m not a real fan of screaming like that, but in moderation it is certainly tolerable, and here it serves to add a great effect to the song. One last thing worth noting about this one is the guitar solo towards the end, which is just flat out shredding and sounds astounding.

“Thoughts” is next, and for the first thirty or so seconds it has you thinking you are going to hear the bands softer side, as there is a gentle plucking of the guitar strings creating a tranquil mood, further aided by what sounds to be a violin. The drums soon change all that, and after a brief guitar solo, the tune starts walking a fine line between being hard rock and metal. This is, especially lyrically, my favorite song on “Note to Self”, as Jamie begins it, “The hate’s taking you over, the nightmares will never subside, and here I stand in the shadows.” before belting out in a scream, “Kill the monster inside!” He then returns to his singing voice, “And I’ll be there through your sorrow, and I’ll be there through your pain. You are the victim.” then screams once more, “This will not happen again!” The chorus is the catchiest part of the song, just in the way the lyrics flow perfectly with the beats, while some brutal screams are included at various points throughout it. Like the first song, this too, has a bridge that, momentarily, turns it into a full-blown metal song.

With the next song, “Save Me”, you finally get a taste of what a slightly toned down Light the Fire sounds like. It begins more acoustic based, as Jamie croons, “Miles away from who I am. These mirrors reflect what I can’t stand…”. The calmness doesn’t last, though, as it ramps up by the first chorus, “Save me now, ‘cause I am lost. Guide me through these empty thoughts…” and the blistering little guitar riff that starts in the second half of each chorus is mesmerizing. This song definitely lacks the harder edge the past couple of tracks have, but that’s a good thing. Like I mentioned at the start of this, they show their versatility and that there isn’t just one certain style of music that they stick to. This is further shown with the next songs, and the several seconds of silence at the end of “Save Me” seems to serve as the “calm before the storm”, so to speak.

Things get very hardcore with “Don’t Fail Me Now”, during which Jamie unleashes his primal scream, showing the listener just what he’s capable of. This one does push the boundaries of my personal music tastes, but while I’m not crazy about, I can’t say I dislike it, either. The range that he has is also quite impressive. When singing, he has an amazing voice, but then he can switch gears at the turn of a dime. I find the best thing about this song to be its raw and unbridled sound, as you can tell that there are no holds barred on this one.

The same can pretty much be said for the next song, “Under My Skin”, though it does seem to have a few more singing parts than the prior track. It’s just a metal song the way metal should be played, where even if there is a lot of screaming involved, it can still be enjoyable.

“Your Song” ends the record, as the band does strip their sound down for a song that is a little more heartfelt. This one is purely acoustic guitars and vocals, making it the most breathtaking song on the record and the lyrics are the most amazing part of this song. “As I look back, as I recall, I can’t believe it’s been so long. It all seems like just yesterday we were kids, how I miss those days… And even though I’m far away, you’re in my heart everyday…” begins Jamie, sounding a bit sentimental, which comes across in his delivery of those words. Another great line comes in the bridge, “…This life is a gift, a delicate gift, and I will always love you…”.

The song is a fitting an end to a remarkable EP. Light the Fire does walk a fine line between hard rock and metal, but they have one thing a lot of hard rock and metal bands don’t these days don’t have; A singer who can legitimately sing. I’ve never been a fan of those styles of music because of what they are now, but after listening to some older hard rock and metal bands, I discovered what the genres have degraded into. I don’t like how a band can get up on stage and have their “singer” scream forty plus minutes of songs, with all of what he’s screaming being totally unintelligible, and then that’s called music.

Sure, Light the Fire’s music involves screaming, but they don’t solely rely on it, and once again, if it’s to add an effect to the song, I’m totally down with it.

I feel like with “Note to Self”, Light the Fire is trying to return those genres to the greatness that they should be, while still holding on to a little bit of what makes them modern. I don’t know if they are purposely going for that or not, but regardless, they do a damn good job of it.

Purchase “Note to Self” on: iTunes

Get a FREE download of: Note to Self - Single”.

Find Light the Fire on:
Facebook
Reverbnation

Light the Fire is:
Jamie Glasgow- Vocals
Ryan Dickinson- Guitar
Felix Lopez- Guitar
Andrew Penland- Bass
Paul Brown- Drums

As of this posting, Light the Fire as the following shows:

May 19th - The Boiler Room in Dallas, Texas

May 26th - Side Pocket Lounge in Kilgore, Texas

June 7th - Tomcat’s West in Fort Worth, Texas