Alex Allred is a singer/songwriter who has been entrenched in the North Texas music scene for a little over a decade now. He’s probably best known for fronting the hard rock outfit, The Aftermath Theory, a band that after five years, decided to go on an indefinite hiatus.
He’s working hard to change that, though, and in the late 2000’s he began writing some acoustic songs, readying himself for a solo career, and suddenly finding himself without band made this a good time to pursue this new musical outlet.
This new music was a vast departure from what he was used to, but it allowed him to test and push himself as a songwriter. A little over a year after his rock band had more or less called it quits, Alex was releasing his first album as a solo artist, and he had also welcomed two other musicians into the fold to back him up.
The album is titled “Born on 4/20”, which is his actual date of birth, and isn’t just a collection of random songs, but songs that chronicle his life.
The album begins with the title track itself, “Born On 4/20”, which is a promising, upbeat song that partly deals with Alex’s birth. It’s driven predominantly by the acoustic guitar, which eventually builds and hits a rather epic climax towards the end of the song. I feel the overall message of the song, though, is about chasing your dreams, regardless of what others may think, best summed up with the line, “…Count all your blessings and never attest to the world that dreams are only for the chosen…”, which Alex sings in his distinctive voice, which has nice, almost soothing quality to it.
The album doesn’t let up any, as it moves on to “Little Warrior”, a very melodic track where Alex continues to tell his life story to everyone, beginning with the (very) early days of his childhood. The drumming is often more simple on this one, often just a steady beat made by slapping one of the skins, but it mixes quite well with the guitar, creating a catchy music bed that will no doubt burrow its way into your head.
Things continue full-steam ahead with “Another One”, which mines a vein similar to the previous track, before offering a glimpse at his softer side of singing and writing with the longest song on the album, “Panic Attack!” which, despite the brief crescendo, is still more of a tranquil song.
“Phase”, which is the shortest offering on the record, comes next and finds Alex returning to his Rock ‘n’ Roll roots, albeit in more of an acoustic way. Sure, it may have a very stripped down sound, but it’s rather intense and could go up against some of the loudest rock songs and hold its own with ease, especially since it boasts a more noticeable rhythm section than previous song.
“I would do it if it takes me a lifetime. Good news, I’ve got nothing but time…” Alex croons at the start “#1 Scenario”, a song where he seems to reaffirm his love and dedication for his music career. It also finds him returning to a more traditional acoustic style of sound, different from the song that came before it, but that’s okay. His music doesn’t all have to be in-your-face to stick with you, in fact, this is one of the highlight tracks on “Born On 4/20”.
One of the cheeriest songs on the album is “Moments”, which emits a rather carefree attitude with its positive vibes, as Alex reminisces about growing up in his suburban neighborhood, before things take a more serious twist with “Biology, Not Chemistry”. “It scares me to say that we share the same DNA…” sings Alex, a line that perfectly summarizes how real and raw the track is.
There’s a slight reggae influence to “Just Breathe”, which is appropriate, given what the song is about. One of the lines from the chorus is, “…I could get used to this, faith, love and cannabis is happiness…”, obviously making marijuana what he is referencing to breathing. It’s not just a song about smoking pot, though, at least not in the sense where he’s simply stating that he does it. Rather, he kind of delves into what he gets from it, making a slightly more complex song than you might think it would be.
Aptly following it is “Young & Dumb”, where Alex bluntly recounts an indiscretion from his later teen years when a police officer caught him smoking a joint while driving down the highway. He’s very transparent about it all, matter-of-factly stating that it happened, though, essentially admitting that it was mistake of his youth, yet not showing any regret about the situation. Like he sings, “…Give it up for the young and dumb…” Oh, and the guitar chords are most excellent on this tune, too.
“Higher Learning”, a song that takes the listeners through Alex’s college years, is a real sing-along track, particularly on the chorus, “…Never said I didn’t do every little thing I wanted to…”, which I could see everyone shouting along with at one of his live shows. It’s just another fun song that “Born on 4/20” has to offer, and is a contender for best song on the record.
“Life & Times” concludes this nearly 40-minute long listening adventure, ending things on a chipper note, and this more love based song finds Alex meeting his (presumably) current girlfriend, and it comes across that he has an optimistic outlook on the future, as well he should.
“Born on 4/20” is a nice concept album of sorts, and it’s refreshing to see a musician write an entire collection of songs where he bares his soul, exposing who he is and informing everyone of what shaped him, rather than writing songs about ex-girlfriends and bad break-ups and such.
It’s also a record that will grow on you, trust me. I listened to every song at least five times each while working on this review, and with each listen, the music, from the beats to the chords, as well as Alexs’ one-of-a-kind voice, became more and more appealing to me.
These days, you don’t often see trios, and you probably wouldn’t think an acoustic one would be all that special, but Alex Allred and his band are one to get acquainted with, and “Born on 4/20” is the perfect introduction to their style.
The Alex Allred Band is:
Alex Allred - Vocals, Guitar
Kevin Broussard - Percussion, Vocals
Clinton Potter - Bass
Purchase the album on:
iTunes / Amazon mp3
Visit Alex Allred’s websites:
Offiical website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter / Youtube
Saturday, June 29th at Liquid Lounge in Dallas, Texas
It was time for round two of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, and I was getting a much earlier start this day.
The first band I wanted to see went on at 2:20, at I got down to Dallas around that time, but the search for a parking spot took some time, and by the time I made it over to the main stage, Nicholas Altobelli and the Gigawatts were a little ways into their set.
Actually, they weren’t quite the Gigawatts, since they were missing a drummer and bassist, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Not long after I got there, Nicholas announced to everyone they were going to do a more “sensitive song”. That sensitive song was one of the tracks from his latest “Without a Home” album, “27 Stories”. “I don’t want to become something I’m running from… Crash and burn in the ground without making a sound, is that so hard to believe, or is it just me?…” Nicholas sang on the opening lines, using a more somber tone of voice on it to reflect the mood of it. After finishing it he mentioned his backing band The Gigawatts (pronounced like jig-a-watts), which was pedal steel guitarist Heather Kitzman, acoustic guitarist Robbie Saunders, and on the keys was Rahim Quazi, who is an accomplished area musician in his own right. Nicholas mentioned they were missing a few members, asking if they should change their name to the “gigabytes” since there were less of them. “No,” you could hear Heather saying while laughing. They then did another track from the new album, “I Don’t Think Tonight is Going to be a Good Night”, which was a little more upbeat, despite still being more of an emotional song, and it’s that certain level of emotion that is essentially a constant in all of Nicholas’s music. Without going into detail, he said that they seem to be cursed at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, saying they played here for three straight years and something always seemed to go wrong, and now they were sans a drummer and bassist. Still, that’s not terrible. They switched things up a bit as Heather left her pedal steel guitar and approached the stage right microphone. She has another band, The Blondelles, an all female Country band that does both covers and originals, and now one of her band mates from that group joined them on stage to perform a Blondelles tune. The song was quite good and the occasional harmonies they had going on were very delightful, leaving me with a strong desire to see a Blondelles show. They returned to their typical lineup and did a couple more tracks, one of which was a new one called “Dogwood”, which Nicholas said would be on his next record. Yes, not even two months after the release of his latest album and he’s already working on songs for his next album. You have to respect that. As for the song, it was very catchy and I loved the story it told. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of the best things he’s written, which is saying a lot.
At this point, he asked the person working the sound how much time they had left. “…Please don’t say, like, forty minutes.” He said. Well, how much time do you think they had left? Yep, forty minutes. Judging Nicholas’s reaction, it was obvious they hadn’t prepared that meaty of a setlist, which meant most of what they did next was all impromptu.
Heather volunteered to do another song of the Blondelles, which killed some time, and afterwards Nicholas busted out an older song of his, one which he set up as being about a town in Michigan. The town he spoke of was Ann Arbor, which was the title of the song. I first saw Nicholas about a year ago and this song was my favorite from that set, but then he mentioned he was probably going to be retiring it to make room for his newer material. So, hearing it was a bit of a treat, for sure. He and Heather handled that song, but the other band members joined in for “I Just Want to Feel Real”, which was undeniable the most upbeat song of their set. It had already kind of been a song swap since Heather had done a few songs, and it definitely became one here, as Nicholas handed his acoustic guitar off to Rahim as the two traded places. He introduced himself to everyone, then did one of his originals and the title track of one of his albums, “Supernatural”. It was an infectious tune and instantly made me a fan of Rahim’s. I’ve heard some great things about him over the years, and now, I understand why. He got back behind the keys after that song, and they spread the love around some more, letting Robbie do a song, which had a Bluesy vibe to it. The best part about those other two songs was watching Heather, Robbie and Nicholas trying to play along with it and add backing vocals in parts, because, since they were unfamiliar with the songs, they were having to watch both Rahim and Robbie with an eagle eye while they were doing their song.
That seemed to have exhausted a lot of their options, and now Nicholas again asked how they were on time, hoping it was almost up. “Perfect.” He said after hearing they were down to three minutes, giving them just enough time to do the single from “Without a Home”, “The Lucky Ones”.
Considering about half of their set was made up on the spot, it was great show, and they pulled it all off without a hitch. Even without the rhythm section and doing acoustic versions of all the songs. I even think that out of the handful of shows I’ve seen of Mr. Altobelli’s, this one was the best yet.
See a show if you can. They’ll be playing at AllGood Café in Dallas on May 31st, along with The Blondelles. On June 28th they have a gig at Sundown at Granada in Dallas, and on July 11th they’ll be up in Denton at Dan’s Silverleaf. And if you’d like to listen to/buy Nicholas’s records, check out a couple of ‘em in ITUNES.
After their set, I went to find some shade, and wound up at the Deep Ellum stage were a band by the name of Chant was finishing up their set.
They were a mix of R&B and Soul, and what little I saw was absolutely amazing. The trio had a fantastic sound going for them, and by the looks of it, I wasn’t the only one they had reeled in. There was quite a crowd watching them, and once they were finished, the audience erupted in applause and cheers.
I killed some more time once they finished, ending up at the Singer/Songwriter stage around four where Clint Niosi was doing a show.
I first discovered him late last year at the Dallas Observer Music Awards showcase, but there was one big difference between that show and the one he was about to do, and that was that he now had a full backing band. In fact, this was the debut show of The Unaccountable, which was what Clints’ backing band has been named.
However, just because Clint now had a full band, comprised of Tommy Garcia on drums, Matt Hanson on the piano, bassist Aaron Bartz, and Claire Hecko playing the violin, didn’t mean he was going to stray too far from his sound.
Their 35-minute long set got off to a slow start as he slowly plucked the strings of his electric guitar setting up a song from his 2008 album “The Sound of Dead Horses Beaten Against Cold Shoulders”, “Coalmine Canary”. When it was time for the instrumentalists to join in, they were all pretty reserved with their playing, too. The bass lines were subtle, at times hardly even noticeable, while the drums were loud enough to be heard, but offered no competition between any of the other elements, and the keys and violin served to really accentuate Clints’ voice, which was undoubtedly the main focal point throughout the show. That all held pretty true for every song, and next they did the somewhat eerie “White Elephant”, off last year’s “For Pleasure and Spite” album. In listening to it, to realize not only how much power the music has in setting a songs mood, but also how much the lyrics and the tone they are said in affect it. “…There’s nothing new and it’s all been done. Nostalgic for the way it never was…” sang Clint on one of the later lines of “New Light”, a song that is one of the best example at what an incredible songwriter he really is. All of those songs thus far, and most of his in general, have a certain ominous quality to them. I like that about his music, but “My Mepistophilis” was a refreshing change of pace, since a little bit of the song is more upbeat musically. That served as a turning point in a way for the show, because the songs that followed it, “The Sum of Parts” and “Little Heart”, also have a somewhat happier or more tranquil vibe, despite that latter song being about a breakup. Sometime around this point (probably a few songs before) a guy walked up to the stage. “Hey, don’t be afraid to actually play that guitar!” he said to Clint, who shrugged it off as the guy walked away. It was funny, mainly because the guy couldn’t appreciate what the band was actually doing. They had a few songs left now, and had saved the best for last, and both “The Formless Black” and “Shark In Your Water” were highlights of the show, even though they sound completely different from one another. They had one song left after that, and ended it with another track from the latest record, “While I’ve Got You on the Line”.
It was a fantastic set, even if some people thought he needed to play the more loudly.
As a solo artist Clint is great, and when I first saw him he was accompanied by Claire on some of the songs, but The Unaccountable create a whole new layer on the live performance.
They make the songs really pop. Sure, it’s all very subtle, but, like I said in another recent review (though it was meant in a completely different way then), there’s beauty in subtlety. You don’t have to be a loud rock band doing flashy stuff on stage to get people’s attention. All you really need is to be able to write deep, powerful lyrics that can captivate the listener… Well, at least the listener who can appreciate it.
Clint is a truly remarkable songwriter, and hands down one of the best in the area. As for the band, he did a good job at assembling some talented individuals that really fit with his style.
Be on the lookout for the band, and as of right now their next show is May 18th as part of the Arts Google Festival in Fort Worth where they will be playing at Sinaca Studios. As for his two albums, they can be purchased in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP.
As soon as they finished, I hightailed it back to the main stage at Good Latimer, where the Indie/Folk band The Fox and the Bird was getting ready to play. I’ve heard a lot about them over the years, but had never made it to a show, so now was the time to see what all the fuss was about.
Their 47-minute long set was a mix of old and new material and they opened with one of those new songs. I was drawn in to it almost immediately, though, due largely to the three and even four part harmonies they often had going on, making it very entrancing. They followed it with “Traveling Bones”, a sweet little love song where backing singer and occasional lead singer Sarah Scotts’ voice intertwined gorgeously with singer and acoustic guitarist Dan Bowmans’. “…I’m in love with the view, but I’m more in love with you…” the two sang in synch with each other. They did a little over half of the songs from their debut album “Floating Feather” this night, and the next song they tackled from it was “Women In the Kitchen”. Additional acoustic guitarist Jacob Metcalf sang lead on that tune, which had more had more of a Folk/Country vibe, and Petra Kelly’s violin playing was superb on it. They did a newer song next, which just so happened to be about the fine city of Dallas, which made it very relatable for all those in attendance. By all those, I mean a lot, as there didn’t appear to be an empty seat anywhere, forcing a lot of people (myself included) to stand and watch their performance. Upon finishing it, Jacob mentioned that their new album, an EP titled “Darkest Hour”, should be out sometime in May. They then did a few songs from it, which required Dan to exchange his guitar for an accordion. Not only that, but he also used a trumpet from time to time over the course of the next few songs, one of which was sung Sarah, showcasing what a strong voice she has, while another was the final song from their first record, “Hey Sister”. It was slower in relation to most of their other stuff, which in turn made the drums, which were manned by Paul Grass, the dominant instrument. His drum kit was pretty small and far from traditional, as his bass drum was a suitcase. Very interesting, and as odd as it looked, it resulted in a sound much like that of an actual bass drum. They got back to their normal setup, with Dan on the guitar, in order to do “Oldest Old”, which was one of my favorites of their set, and “Old Mother” wasn’t too shabby, either. They did a couple more new tracks, then arrived at the title track from their current album, “Floating Feather”. This cheery song was the only I was truly familiar with (I admittedly haven’t listened to the album a whole lot). It was every bit as good live as the recorded version, and is arguable the best song they’ve written. They had one left after that, bidding everyone farewell when they finished it, saying “…We’ll see you next time.”
Now, I know the whole Indie/Folk genre is kind of played out at the moment, since it has suddenly become the hot commodity and there are now a bazillion bands like that who have become successes from the commercial aspect. Honestly, I’m as tired of it as probably everyone else is. And while you can’t say there’s no other band out there like The Fox and the Bird, you can say they are doing it all right.
It’s creative musically, and lyrically several of their songs tell some good little stories. Plus they are all very capable and great singers, whose different tones of voice make sure nothing ever gets to repetitive.
I really liked it and am glad I finally got to see one of their shows. Hopefully I can make it to another sometime in the near future.
Find their album “Floating Feather” in either ITUNES or BANDCAMP, and keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for info about future shows.
So far there had been a lot of diversity between all the bands (and that’s just from the ones I chose to see) and it was about to get more eclectic when Reinventing Jude took the stage.
I’ve heard of the band for a few years now, but it wasn’t until the last six months or so when I actually listened to their stuff and became a fan.
The band, which is fronted by Jude Gonzalez, was functioning as a quintet this night, and along with all the typical instruments a band has, they also had a cello player.
Their first song proved the self-description of being a Ballroom Rock band to be an accurate one. That’s the similarity between their songs, they all have somewhat of a mellow vibe to them and are rather relaxing, while also stimulating. It’s quite interesting, and had me captivated from the start. I think they followed it with “1919”, which let Judes’ smoky voice flow while she played her guitar. There’s no doubt that she drew the most attention, but her band mates were putting on a good live show as well and put more energy into it than you might expect based on their style of music. Yun Kim was a powerful drummer who was really into it all, and lead guitarist Nathan Hanlon is an exceptional guitar player, though he was more restrained here than with the rock band I last saw him in. They did another song before getting to what I think was “Midnight 30”, which was at times a little more upbeat, and had some nice cello parts courtesy of Ashley Montez, while bassist Chris Townsend and Yun created a very strong rhythm section on that one. “The Talk” was one of their most dynamic songs of the night, and “The Weather” was pretty good, too. Jude announced their next song was “Secret”, a track from the 2011 album “Shoulder Season”, and another one that showed off Judes’ somewhat sultry voice as she crooned on the chorus, “…I’m gonna fall in love and I’m gonna keep it…”. Before beginning the next one, she announced it was named “Swimmer Song”, which was an amazing song, and they did one more after it to finish up what had been a stellar 47-minute long set.
It was a nice set and I can’t believe it took me so long to see a Reinventing Jude show.
They have an extraordinary sound, and Judes’ voice is one of the smoothest and most distinctive I’ve heard. The slower pace most of their songs have might not be for everyone, but if you don’t mind that and you like music that has real substance and meaning to it, than you need to give Reinventing Jude a listen.
You can buy their albums in ITUNES, and get some free downloads of some singles on either REVERBNATION or SOUNDCLOUD.
They usually keep pretty busy when it comes to live shows, and as of right now you can find them at Hailey’s in Denton on May 10th, and the following weekend, May 18th, they’ll be at The Freeman in Dallas.
There was one last act I really wanted to see this night, and that was the Alt/Country band from the small town of Belton, Texas, Kirk Baxley and the Old Number Sevens.
The four-piece’s opening track was really good, and they kept the show rolling with the smooth sounding “Drive”, which is one of the tracks from the “Cold as a Stone” EP. It does kind of call into question how Alt/Country the band is, though, and singer and rhythm guitarist Kirk Baxley brought that up at one point during their set, saying that some people will classify them as that. “…I like to think of us as being more Belton, Texas Country…” he said, and that genre has a dash or two of rock added to the mix. Those first two songs had been pretty loud and fast paced, but now they took things down for a few notches with the sensitive love song, “Constantly”. Kirk’s always been good at the ballads, and that tune is a fine example of that. They stepped things back up afterwards with what was the most rocking song of their set. The bands lead guitarist really got to cut loose on this one, shredding and cranking out some awesome lines, and the drummer was able to let his chops show as well. It was beast of a song, and hopefully it can make it onto their next record. Kirk did some chatting with the crowd in between songs, doing everything from pumping the crowd up, to talking about the next song they were going to do. He did the latter here, saying the one they were about to do was for his dad. It was nice song, and they followed it with a few other non-album tracks, one of which was an old gem from the first time he played back during the time of his first country project, “God in Rock ‘n’ Roll”. I love that song and the positive energy it has, and it was great getting to hear it again, ‘cause it’s been a couple years at least since I last heard it. Before their next song, Kirk asked if anyone hailed from a small town, saying that was exactly what this next song was about, and it was aptly titled “Small Town”. “…Being from a small, small town, it ain’t easy…” Kirk belted out on the chorus, telling it like it is in a way, but the overall message is being from a small town isn’t that bad, and it certainly can’t define who you are or what you can do in life. They again slowed things down, way down at that, this time with the title track of their EP “Cold as a Stone”. I believe it was at this point where Kirk asked if anyone had a problem with them slowing it down and making it even more depressing. It was hard to think that could happen, but it did, and I think that was also the song where the bands bass player switched from an electric bass to an upright bass. It added a good sound to the music, but he went back to the electric bass for their next song, “Bring My Brother Back”, and after another song, they broke out the fan favorite, “Rock ‘n’ Roll in My Veins”. “I’ve got rock ‘n’ roll in my veins, but I love country music just the same…” Kirk sang at the start of this intense rock song, a song where you saw a glimpse of his rock frontman personality jump out. I thought the show was over with that, since it is a fan favorite and seemed to please everybody who was watching them this night, but they had one more left to cap off their 65-minute long set.
It was an awesome show, and much better than the last time I saw them, where they were limited to a five song set. I really liked it because even though he’s been doing this for a few years now, I’ve never been able to see a full set from him and his band in order to get a real taste of what their sound is like, and now that I have, I love it.
The music is far from being true Country, so it’s not going to alienate his older fans (at least not most of them), but they’re certainly not the loud, heavy rock songs he used to write, either. Instead, what he does now is a nice blend of each.
After all these years, Kirk is still one of the best singer/songwriters here in the area. Sure, he might not live in Dallas per say, but this has always been his hometown of sorts, which he pointed out while playing, saying he’s often been at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in past years, but had never performed it until now, and he was proud to be able to.
They’ll be pretty busy the last half of May, doing a two night stand at the House of Fifi Dubois in San Angelo on May 17th and 18th. On the 24th they’ll be at The Rattlesnake Inn in Florence, then on the 31st they have a gig at Darwin’s in Austin. Also, be sure to check out their EP in ITUNES.
There was one band left, and somehow I didn’t know The Roomsounds were playing this thing until a few hours before this point. I really considered staying to see them, but after being out since the early afternoon, I was beat and decided to call it a night.
All in all, I had a blast at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, or rather watching the bands that played it. This was the second straight year I’ve attended two out of the three days of the festival, and I’m already looking forward to what bands will be playing it next year.
Another weekend was about to start, and what better way to kick it off than by catching a show at my favorite Dallas venue, The Curtain Club.
Stand 2 Reason was the first band up this night, but due to some traffic jams, I didn’t get there until they were almost done.
What I heard of this mostly acoustic band was really good, though. They had the standard rhythm section, but the other three members of the group all played acoustic guitars, which actually added some great layers to the music, and the singer, Andy, has a great voice.
During just a few songs, they made me into a fan, and hopefully I’ll get to catch a full show sometime in the future.
Up next was the main band I was there to see this night, the Austin based, Distant Lights.
One of their newer songs, which I believe is titled “Science”, began their set, and got them off to quite a start. I was prepared for a show much like their one here in November, which was almost all-new material, but it was completely different this time around. In fact, their next song was a shocking surprise to me. I’ve never seen a Distant Lights show where they didn’t close with “Artifice”, yet now Gaelan Bellamy was cranking out the opening lines of it, shredding on his guitar, before Kevin Abbenante beat down on his drums, kicking it up even a few more notches. It is the most song in their arsenal, and the lengthy instrumental bridge is the highlight of it, giving bassist, Sam Marshall, Gaelan and Kevin a chance to take the spotlight and really rock out. It really just didn’t feel right at this point in the set, though. I think it’s a song that’s best reserved for the closer, or it would probably even make a mean opener. “We are Distant Lights, from just down the road in Austin, Texas…” announced frontman, Gabriel Fry, who also mentioned that most of what they were performing could be found on their albums, pointing to their merch booth. They slowed things down considerably with “Metamorphosis”, which has a nice flow that is truly complimentary of the song, starting off slow and heavy on the rhythm section, but as the lyrics get more exciting, “…and as the channel opens up I marvel at the power as it grows…”, so too does the music, amping up considerably. All that makes it a very well written song. They followed it with “Dystopia”, the lead track from their “Simulacrum” album and one I had not heard in far too long, and then moved on with one of their newer songs. That actually started them on a series of newer songs, and no sooner had they finished it than Kevin launched them into the aggressive, “Tightrope”. The mood fluctuated over the course of the next two songs, “Suffocating” and “Patterns On the Rise”, both of which have a real ebb and flow to them, being fairly relaxed at some points, before jumping into a full on rock song. That eventually led them to the final song of their 35-minute long set, “What’s On Your Mind”. It’s no “Artifice”, but it is the next best thing to go out on, and has Gabriel rather viciously belting out the chorus, while prowling around the stage.
It was a spectacular show they put on, and definitely the best of the night. They put such energy into their performance and have an undeniable stage presence. Even though the Curtain was fairly empty when they played, they still managed to captivate the attention of almost all of the onlookers, which doesn’t happen too often in my experience.
I almost want to say that Gabriel carries the band with the way he conducts himself on stage and the stellar voice he has (it is one of the best I’ve heard, and he sounds even better in the live setting than their recordings do), but that wouldn’t be true. Gaelan’s skills on the guitar are out of this world, and he’s certainly at his best on the occasions when he’s shredding. Lastly, Kevin and Sam make a dynamic rhythm section, with Sam’s slick method of grooving on the bass, while Kevin is more assertive with his drumming, making it well rounded.
They’re just a killer group, and after not playing the Dallas for a few years, I’m glad that they’re starting to venture up here again. Hopefully it can become a normal thing once every two to four months or so.
You can find their first album in ITUNES, and word is they have almost completed their next record. They also have shows coming up on April 26th at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and April 27th at Rock ‘N’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. They have a hometown gig in Austin on April 28th at the Dirty Dog Bar, opening for Powerman 5000, and on May 11th they’ll be down in San Antonio at Fitzgerald’s.
So, once Distant Lights finished I went over to the Liquid Lounge side of the venue where Aaron Pose was doing a set.
I figured the singer of Admiral Grey was probably almost done at this point, and sure enough he was, only having two songs left, both of which were newer ones he had written. One of those songs was titled “Another Day”, but the best of the two I heard was by far his closing song, “Home”. Before starting he talked about his recent decision to take a break from music, saying he needed to “recharge his batteries”. “…I don’t know how long that’s going to take. Could be three months, could be six months, it could be a year…” he said, saying it was just time to take a break and focus on family for a while. Evidently, part of what spurred that decision was when he wrote this song, “Home”. And he said when writing songs, he just let’s it flow, barely even paying attention to what he’s writing at the time. He added that after he finished this song and then read, he knew it was time to take a break. Emotionally it was a deep song, dealing with not always being there for the people who need you, and honestly, may be the best thing Aaron has ever written.
The music scene will feel kinda empty without Aaron being an active part of it, but I feel where he’s coming from and I doubt anyone can blame him for taking some time off. I’m just glad it’s not a permanent hiatus, though.
Aaron doesn’t have any solo music available, but do check out Admiral Grey’s “Long Road” EP.
As soon as he was finished, I headed back to the Curtain, where the next band, Breaking Midway, was just getting warmed up.
I wasn’t instantly drawn in by them, and honestly, they struck me as being bland at first. There was no gripping quality to singer and acoustic guitarist Kelley Hannahs’ voice, and the first full song that I heard, “Dreaming”, came across as being a little drab. “Volcano” was a little more vibrant, and had a nice backbone, courtesy of drummer, Jay Chagnon, and their upswing continued with “I Won’t Let You”. It was after that song that I decided the band was more of an acquired taste, and one I was liking a little more with each song. They did a couple more tunes, one of which was another from their 2012 debut record, “The Speed of Life”, titled “Wish”, which was one of the catchiest songs of their set. “Living Room” was another standout from their set, and after another track, they did one of their newer songs, “Home”. There’s a real sentimental quality to the song, and while it didn’t connect with me on a personal level or anything, I must say it was quite moving. They had certainly hit their stride at this point, and now did “Finally Free”, which had more of a rock sound to it than their previous stuff, and the same could be said about “Done”, which just had a little more vigor to it. They only had one more for the night, and after laying her guitar down on the stage, Kelley said they had “saved the best for last”, and she wasn’t joking, either. I don’t know what it was, but it definitely was the most in your face song of their set.
By the time it was all said and done I don’t know if I’d say I had become a fan of Breaking Midway’s, but I had enjoyed their show.
I guess my main thing with Kelleys’ voice was it didn’t immediately grab me, which is what I prefer, but if you listen to a few songs, you’ll discover an endearing quality to it, and one that should hold your interest. Her, the lead guitarist and Jay put on a good show, but the bass player, he was rather lifeless, and appeared to be going through the motions instead of actually being invested in it and enjoying being on stage, which in the end was the only thing I disliked about their show.
Check out their albums in ITUNES, which ranges from a full-length to some singles and even a live record recorded right here at the Curtain Club. They also have a gig coming up on May 11th at O’Riley’s in Dallas.
I stuck around for the headliner, Ol’ Jug of Whiskey, whom I’ve heard a lot about and was very eager to finally see what they were like.
Their show this night was a first for the band, who is typically an acoustic act, but tonight was doing their first ever electric set.
The first song of their set required their guitarist, Mike Drake, to use a mandolin, adding an interesting vibe to what was more a rock song. He switched to a guitar after that, but after a few more songs, I decided to go back to the lounge.
They are a great band with an awesome sound and singer, Bryce Frazier, has knockout voice, but I just never felt drawn in by it. Instead, I kept thinking, “I’d enjoy Exit 380 a lot more than this.”
It’s just a personal preference, and nothing against Ol’ Jug of Whiskey.
I’ve seen Exit 380 quite a bit over the last few months, but there was a big difference between those other shows and this one, and that was that this was an acoustic set. The band doesn’t do many of those, and I was informed by their singer, Dustin Blocker, that to form their setlist they ended up looking at all their songs in iTunes to refresh their minds on what songs were more acoustic based. Yes, that also means that little rehearsal time went into this show, a fact they pointed out a couple times while on stage.
Beginning their brief 29-minute set was their song that is featured on a Hand Drawn Records compilation CD, “A Song About Us”. The song was really set off by Jeremy Hutchison, who was acting as the drummer this night, playing what I think was a djembe (not sure, and I’m pretty much clueless outside the traditional drum kit). It was all very fluid as he beat it with his hands, giving the song some great rhythm. There was a very lax mood to this show, even more so than normal, and after that song guitarist, Aaron Borden, said something about needing more bass. “That was all you…” Blocker told him while laughing, presumably referring to some little mishap I didn’t catch. They continued with “Soul Burning Train”, which was one of only two new songs that fit with this set, and honestly, I think this stripped down version was even slightly better than normal, just seeming a little more behooving of it. Those are two great songs, but they’re pretty much standard at most E380 shows, and I was looking forward to the older stuff, like their next song, “Dammit”. That’s still my overall favorite song of theirs, and I’ve only heard that now decade plus old song performed once before, over two years ago. A lot of their songs, particularly their newer ones, tell some great stories, and while “Dammit” is different from their current stuff, I think it tells the best story. Besides, Dustin adds a little more bass to his voice on that song, which in turn gives it a lot of texture. Now they informed everyone that they “didn’t quite rehearse” for this show, then started into a bonus track from the Townies album, “Oil Machine”. The tambourine that Dustin played and the more delicate bass lines Jon Hutchison was playing created a great atmosphere and the harmonizing Dustin and Aaron were occasionally doing sounded wonderful. As it ended, Dustin got all crazy with his voice, hitting all sorts of notes. “…Harmonize that…” he told Aaron once they finished the song, and the two couldn’t help but laugh at one another. “Is it time for…” Aaron said, trailing of, but letting his guitar do the talking, starting a classic from the “Last Monday” album, “2 Lie”. “…You’ve been up all night, question me question life. You don’t think just desire, but don’t you fucking lie to me.” Dustin sang, that being the final line of this relatively tranquil song with a catchy vibe, which is what makes it another favorite of mine. They next did another song from that record, a hidden one, and another I’m pretty certain I had never heard live before. It was “A Much Needed Apology”, which is the most peaceful and calming song they’ve written, but they picked the mood back up a little, doing “In The Park”, which brought their set to an end.
It may have been a short show, but it was amazing and I’m glad I decided to see it. After all, how many times am I going to hear them do my two favorite songs in the same set? That’s probably not going to happen very much.
If for no other reason, it was also interesting just to see Jeremy act as the percussionist, since he’s typically a guitarist, and do such a killer job at it. In fact, I think they were a little too hard on themselves about having not rehearsed. Was it perfect? No. But it sure didn’t seem like they hadn’t rehearsed at all, either.
Then again, if you’ve been a band since 1999, you should be cohesive enough to pull something like this off with relative ease.
As of right now, it looks like their next show is going to be on June 2nd at the Capitol Bar in Fort Worth. Also, do check out all their albums. They have several available, and between ITUNES and BANDCAMP, you can get them all.
This wasn’t a bad night of music at all, and it was good getting to see some bands I hadn’t seen before, along with the ones I’m all too familiar with.
It was back to my favorite Deep Ellum haunt, The Curtain Club, this night, where, just like the previous night, a killer lineup of bands had been assembled.
Olivine was one of those bands, and I missed the first bit of their set, because I was out on the patio talking with Paco Estrada, who would later play.
I had never seen the band before, though I had seen their singer, Jake Mai, when he opened for People On Vacation last year, shortly before forming Olivine. I enjoyed the music then, but it was obviously not completely rounded, since it lacked a full band.
That expansion, and the use of electric instruments made all the difference this night. What I did see of it was an explosive performance of pop/rock music. Bassist, Jorge Garcia, and lead guitarist, Casey Hollyfield, put on a dynamic live show, and Jake certainly did his fair share when he didn’t have to be stationed behind the mic. They played several songs off their debut record, “Drift”, and even at one point brought things down, when Casey, Jorge, and drummer, Joe Bortscheller, left Jake alone to do an acoustic song. For their final song, they did the title track itself, “Drift”, which is easily the best song in their arsenal.
Their music is extremely radio friendly, and mines that vein of pop/rock. Usually, that’s a style of music I try to stay away from, simply because it sounds so generic now. Every now and then, though you see a band that can pull it off well, and Olivine is one of those bands. Sure, it may not be groundbreaking, but it sounds good, and that’s what really matters.
Check out the “Drift” record in iTunes. And while they have no shows booked at the moment, keep tabs on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE to find out when they do.
After them was Erik Chandler, who’s probably best known as the bassist of Bowling for Soup, and this night was doing his first show with his backing band. It consisted of Doug McGrath (formerly of SouthFM) on bass and Taylor Young (of Dallas’s hottest country duo, The O’s) on drums, while Erik played the guitar. Now, practically his entire 34-minute set was originals from his upcoming record, meaning I can’t elaborate with song titles like I typically do. After their first song, Erik made mention of the record, talking about how good it is and acknowledged that he has been working on it for awhile. “…And trust me, y’all are all very thankful for it…”, referring to the album, which was self-described as being one of the best records ever. After another original they did a cover of Elvis Costellos’ “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”. “…If I wrote this song, I wouldn’t be here right now…” said Erik before starting it. It was a great rendition of the song, and they kept it pretty spot on, with the exception that it sounded like it was more up tempo. Afterwards, Erik thanked Olivine for opening the show, and People on Vacation for putting it all together. “…You don’t get this much rock anymore…” he said, a statement I didn’t find entirely accurate, especially after the show here the night before, which boasted three bands who routinely headline the Curtain. Point is, rock is still very much alive in Dallas. Anyway, they did another song that was about Eriks’ first car, and upon finishing it, he mentioned how good it was to be back at the Curtain. “…This was the place of cutting teeth…” he said, speaking of the early days of Bowling for Soup (whose plaque still proudly adorns the “Wall of Fame” in the venue). He continued, “…It’s like a family reunion, ‘cause almost all the same people still work here…” They did a couple more originals, before doing another cover, which I was unfamiliar with. “…This is another one I didn’t write, but I sure wish I did…” Erik said. Periodically throughout the show fans had been buying them drinks, and at this point, someone handed Erik a shot, which he couldn’t identify. He hesitantly drank it, and while I don’t remember what it is, he said he usually didn’t get along with it. It was too late to do anything about it, though. Before their final song, Erik set it up by saying it was one everyone could all relate to. “…We all have that one cunt that really fucked you up…” he said. It was called “Tonight’s the Night”, and it really was the best song of their set.
I was sure it would be good, but still, the most I’ve ever heard Erik sing is adding the occasional backing vocals on various BFS songs, which makes it hard to truly gauge anyone’s voice. However, Erik’s got a good set of pipes on him, and sounded quite great this night.
The music’s really good, too, and for anyone who is a fan of BFS, you’re guaranteed to like his stuff.
Check out his FACEBOOK PAGE to stay up to date with his goings on, and expect his debut album to drop sometime this year.
Next up was the headlining band, People On Vacation, which is of course the side project of fellow BFS member, Jaret Reddick, and co-founded by another Dallas musician, Ryan Hamilton.
This was a big show for the band, because not only were they celebrating the release of their latest album on CD (it has been available digitally since late last year), it was also Jaret’s birthday show. Jaret pointed this out before they even began the show, and mentioned he probably wouldn’t make it through the night sober. Joining them for this full band performance was Linus Dotson, AKA Linus of Hollywood, on keys, and Jaret pointed him out to the crowd. “…My boo flew in for this show…” he said, and continued by saying that since it was his birthday week, if Linus peed on anything this night it would be completely legal. Yeah, all that happened before they even played a song, which was proof enough that this was going to be an unforgettable night.
They began with “Prettiest Girl In The World”, which surprised me a little, because the last times I had seen them it was more of the closer, or at least fell later in the set. The upbeat, happy tune the song carries made it work well as an opener, though, and immersed the audience into their music. Like his band mate that played before him, Jaret mentioned how good it was to be back at the Curtain Club. “…We just played here…” he said, adding it had only been three days or something, referring to their show here which had barely been a month ago. They then did another song from their newest record, “We Are The Lucky Ones”. “Why can’t we just skip to the good parts. Read through the last page before start. I’ll raise one hand to the heavens, I’ll use the other to cross my heart and hope to die…” Ryan and Jaret both sang, with drummer, Todd Harwell, adding the well planned beats, that dance in between each line. The crazy banter continued after that song, and while shouting out all the other acts on the bill, Jaret officially named Eriks’ band, calling them “Erik Chandler & The Prima Donna Motherfuckers”. They joked about for a few minutes, having the audience laughing right along with them, before eventually busting out another fan favorite, “Back To Being Friends”. Upon finishing it, Ryan was put in charge of entertaining the crowd, while Jaret put on some chapstick. Before he had a chance to say anything, though, Linus chimed in, saying he’s told Jaret before that he thinks he’s addicted to that stuff, and needs to quit using it. “…It’s funny, because while he’s telling me that, he’s over there smoking a cigarette…” he said, speaking of past cases. They briefly debated if someone even could be addicted to chapstick, before discussing how they were going to start their next song. “…You start it.” Jaret told Ryan, who proceeded to strum his acoustic guitar. I had never heard them start this song this way before, but those chords on their own sounded phenomenal. Soon, Linus started in on the keys, which confirmed it was “Alone with You”. That one’s still my favorite POV song, mainly because of that one line, “…Begging for a pardon like a subject of a warden, like I burped up something and swallowed it again…”. I still think that’s pure genius. When it ended, Jaret pointed out that Ryan was the “Where’s Waldo of St. Patrick’s Day”, as he did have on a striped shirt, with green instead of red. Soon, conversation switched to Ryan’s parents, with Jaret saying he didn’t know much about Ryan’s dad, except, “…He helps with the Holiday Salsa. And he likes to weld…”. This led Ryan to tell everyone the best advice he ever received from his father. “Son, if you’re going to be dumb, then you need to be tough.” According to him, that was the best advice he got, and Jaret countered it with his. “My dad didn’t want to have the sex talk with me, so he just told me, “Son, keep it in your pants unless you’re going to the bathroom.” “True story.” He added. When they got back into song mode, they did another happy song from their first EP, “She was the Only One”. During that song, and the past few, a women had been going around taking pictures of the band with her iPad, and at this point, Jaret pointed it out, saying something like, “…Steve Jobs would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the iPad was being used to take pictures in the pit at a rock show…”. Linus then proved his wittiness, ‘His iGrave.” Brilliant (and quite possible true). Ryan was persuaded to play a song he wrote for Linus during one of their UK tours, aptly called, “Linus of Hollywood”. All though short, it was pretty humorous, and not bad at all for something that, at one time, was probably quickly made up. Another song of Ryan’s (a legitimate one) followed, and it was the song about searching for love, “Lonely Fish”. “So many fish in the proverbial sea, I wonder ‘round the world just hoping that you’ll bump into me…” he sang, the first line of this spot on tune. I’m still glad it made its transition into a POV song, because it was one of the best in Ryan’s catalog, and the full band sound just makes it that much better. The talk then turned to Christmas, when they mentioned that with the release of “The Summer and The Fall” on CD, it was like Christmas. “Play a Christmas song!” shouted one of the audience members. “You really want us to play a Christmas song?!” Jaret asked, and they all looked at each other like they were contemplating the idea. However, the closest they got was Linus playing the tune of one on the keyboard. They then brought things down ever so slightly with “Rainy Day”, and soon after followed it up with the perfect song, and one of their best, “Because Of The Sun”. I liked the little metaphor that made, simply saying that the sun will shine after any storm, and things will get better. “It’s Not Love” came next, and Ryan started the song. Almost immediately, Jaret peaked over his shoulder, looking at where the capo was placed, before putting his on the same fret. Ryan didn’t seem to notice, or if he did he ignored, but everyone else got a kick out of it. “…We just topped Coldplay with that one…” Jaret said when they finished, noting that nobody even had to drop all the cash that they would have to see a Coldplay concert. “…I wrote this next song in the shower…” Said Jaret, which prompted a look from Ryan and bassist, Beau Wagener, of, “Do I want to ask?” “No, not like that!” he quickly replied, which didn’t stop Ryan from asking him if he heard “…Hundreds of screaming children coming from the drain…” It wasn’t as bad as it first sounded, with Jaret saying he thought of it while in the shower, then penned it once he got out. The song was the rhymey, “I Get You”, which is a quick and nice little love song. Jaret began talking about his birthday, stating that the best gift he got was having a service come out for a whole year to pick up his dogs poop. They were then informed they had enough time for one more song, and Beau, Todd and Linus left the stage, leaving the two to close out their 60-minute long set with a more acoustic style song. It was a cover of Ratt’s “Round and Round”, which further proves the bands love for classic 80’s metal songs, which is typically what they cover. It was a very different take on it, yet it sounded amazing. It was the harmonies that really made the song, plus the slower pace gave it more of a somber feeling.
It was a pretty good song to end with, and it was another fantastic People On Vacation show.
With their hectic schedules, they haven’t played live much lately, and I’m pretty certain the last time I saw them was last May. So long I had almost forgotten how entertaining they are.
The mix of infectious pop/rock songs, with hilarious humor make them one of the only bands that encompasses every aspect of entertainment, and they’re bound to reel you in with at least one of those.
Check out the two records they now have available, both of which can be found in ITUNES, and keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE for future show dates. ‘Cause hopefully, if neither of them get too busy with their primary bands, they’ll be doing another People On Vacation show sooner rather than later.
They may have been the headlining band, but there was one more act after them, and it was the insanely talented, Paco Estrada.
Joining him was his backing band, which is yet unnamed, but is comprised of Scotty Isaacs on the piano, Joel Bailey on bass, AJ Blackleaf supplying the beats on a partial drum kit, and the newest addition, Nathan Parnell on an electric guitar.
They opened their 42-minute set with one of Paco’s newest songs, “American Girls”, which has a little bit of a folk sound to it, but also is a bit of a classic rock song. As that song came to an end, Paco kept strumming his acoustic guitar, transitioning them right into their next song, which sounded all too familiar. Personally, I think Pacos’ most current release, 2011’s “The Definite and Indefinite…”, is overall the best collection of songs he’s done to date, but over the last year or so, most of those songs have found their way out of the live set, including the gem, “Whiskey Kisses”. Well, tonight they had decided to dust it off, and I think it was largely due to Nathan on the electric guitar. Once they hit the chorus, Nathan’s guitar work really livened up the song, while AJ tore in on the drums. It suddenly became a full-blown rock song, which is something Paco hasn’t done in a very long time. “…Your sweet whiskey kisses, that’s what I’ve been missing. When you lose your inhibitions…” he belted out on the chorus, in his rich, soulful voice. They did another new one, “The Way I Love You”, and afterwards, Paco acknowledged a friend and fellow vocalist who was out enjoying the show. “Tim, when was the last time I got to sing for you?” he asked, speaking to Tim Ziegler. It almost made it sound like the next song was dedicated to him, which I doubt was the case, since it was the ultimate love song, “When We Were Made”. Seriously, you’ll be hard pressed to find a love song as powerful as that one is. After another new song, the enthralling, “She”, they did yet another song I hadn’t heard in a few years. It wasn’t an original, though. “We got any Deftones fans in here?” asked Paco, which got a rise from the audience. He mentioned something about knifes, then said, “… I’m Mexican, so I got a knife in my boot at all times…” As you might have guessed by now, they were covering “Knife Party”, which was often a staple back in the days of Paco & One Love. This was a little more rock version, though, but still the best part was just the way Paco sings the chorus, “…Go get your knife, go get your knife and lay down. Go get your knife, go get your knife, now kiss me.”, with the force he puts behind it making it nothing short of phenomenal. It had only been a few weeks since I had last seen Paco, but since seeing that show in Fort Worth, I had anxiously been awaiting this one, to hear the song they did next, or rather the cover they tack onto it. “This song’s about my dad.” Said Paco, as they started “Breaking Down”. The part about his father comes on the second verse, “…My father had a heart attack at fifty-eight. I never thought that man was built to break. He told us that if he went under, he didn’t want them to resuscitate…”After a couple more trips through the chorus, Paco looked at his band mates during a brief instrumental break, before jumping into the cover. “Did I disappoint you, or leave a bad taste in your mouth? You act like you never had love, and you want me to go without…” he sang. I’ll say it again, out of all the covers he’s added at the end of this song over the years, U2’s “One” is truly the best. He has a knack for conveying real emotion while he sings, and that’s at its best here, especially on the line, “…We’re one, but we’re not the same. Will we hurt each other, then we do it again…”, which is sung with a fiery passion, and personally, I think it trumps U2’s original version of it. At this point, they only had a couple more left, and Paco mentioned that they were “…All love songs, so they’re all slower tempo…” That held very true to their next song, and another classic I hadn’t heard in awhile, “I Will Never Let You Go”. Now they only had one left, and it was the routine closer, “Haunting Me”. “…I’ll pack my bags. I’ll put my heart in a box of letters from you I have. I’ll disappear and paint it black, and when the memory of my face begins to fade, I’m coming back…” Paco croons on the second verse, giving the song somewhat of an eerie vibe. This is another one where he usually adds a cover song on the end of it, and it is the Whitney Houston classic, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, which is a positive note to end on.
The difference between this show and the one I had seen before it was like night and day. Like I said, that electric guitar brought them to a whole new level, and while they still had the songs that were very piano based, the drums and guitar surged to life on others.
It brought everything to life, quite honestly, this is the best band I’ve seen Paco surround himself with since One Love disbanded in late 2010. So, hopefully this will be the band that sticks with him for awhile. I guess only time will tell on that.
However, while this band may not have any recordings, Paco’s catalog is extensive, and several of his older records can be purchased via BANDCAMP.
Their music was a great way to conclude the show this night. It’s just a shame that so few people stuck around, because, as I’ve said many times before, Paco is the most talented singer/songwriter in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Oh, and the incense they have burning during their shows makes it even more of an experience.
It was another killer night of music at the best venue in Deep Ellum, and if you weren’t there, you missed out.
If you read my previous blog entry, then you might recall I said that, that show was a bit eclectic. While it was, it has nothing on the show that went down at Tomcats West this night.
Yeah, I made a VERY rare trip over to Fort Worth. Nothing against the city, but living north of Dallas means that logistically it’s just not convenient to get to. An exception was made for this show, though, which featured two of my favorite area acts.
The first act of the night was an acoustic duo by the name, Myrick. I believe that was the last name of the singer of the group, who played an acoustic guitar and was accompanied by another acoustic guitarist (or maybe it was a bassist. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention.)
With incredible subpar vocals, I quickly lost interest. Their set at least seemed to go by quickly, but by far the worst part of it was the end when he did a parody of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Obviously, it was set to the same tune, though he called his parody, “Don’t Cum In My Eye”. Evidently I’m still juvenile enough to find a bit of humor in that (and by “bit”, I mean a VERY minuscule amount), but no amount of humor could save it. It only lasted about a minute, before he abruptly stopped and said, “That’s it…”, then walked off stage. Oh, wait, I think I get why he only needed a minute to do the song now…
Meridian was the first actual band of the night, though they, or specifically vocalist, Tim Ziegler, looked a little different. He was without his long hair and beard, and was almost unrecognizable at first glance, looking more like he did when I first met him nearly seven years ago, when he fronted the band Darby.
“Re-digress” kicked off their 38-minute long set. Somehow, I didn’t notice right away when it happened, and then all of sudden I realized guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, drummer, Joe Maurer, and Tim were the only guys on stage. They handled it well, and didn’t act like they were down a band mate, finishing the song strong, and then Tim asked what was up with Chris Gentry. Apparently, he had broken the main string on his bass, which was what left him incapacitated for most of that song, and even a few minutes after. That meant Tim had to make some small talk, and he first mentioned they had played here a several months before and that they’d like to get back a little more often. That was about all the topics he had prepared. “…Chris, hurry up. This is getting uncomfortable for me…” he said, succeeding at being funny and sounding nervous. Chris finally rejoined them, having borrowed a bass from one of the other bands. They were then able to move on, and began one of their most rocking numbers, “All Hands”. They followed it with one of their newest songs, and afterwards took a momentary pause where Tim killed some time. “Listen, I don’t want anyone here tagging me in any shit…” he said. He proceeded to say that he was technically at work, and had taking time off to perform this show, meaning he couldn’t be drinking, and he didn’t want any photos to make it look otherwise. So, once that was cleared up, they tore into “Nights Like This”, which was pretty flawless, except toward the end, when Chris again had to leave with some bass issues. “…We lost our bassist again…” Tim said when the song was over. Mark said something, to which Tim responded, “Oh yeah, we don’t need him for the first part of this next song.” The current four piece then started “Starts and Ends”. “You told them all just what they can do. You got the shortest part of the straw you drew… I draw the curtain back and you take a bow. Did I catch you off guard or get it right somehow?…” sang Tim on the first verse. This was the first time I’ve seen them since getting their new EP, meaning this was the first time I really knew that song since they rewrote it over a year ago. I had missed singing along to that one more than I had realized, and it still stands out as my favorite Meridian song. Chris once again got back on stage pretty early on in that one, and stuck around for another newer song, “Lazy Eye”, which has a more dominant rhythm section. Tim couldn’t go without poking fun of the situation, and told Chris he might be getting a pink slip the next day, then said they might be in the market for a new bass player. Chris didn’t have a verbal retort to that, though he did act like he was about knee Tim right in the crotch. “Train” brought things down a few notches and perfectly showcases the bands softer side, as it is a beauty of a tune, but is still something you can easily rock out to. Tim announced they had one last song, a Mark played the first notes of “Hey Lover”, before Joe busted in on the drums, really getting it underway.
It was far from a perfect show, but Chris deserves some major props for doing the best he could in an unlikely situation. When he was on stage, he gave it his all as usual. It was just an unfortunate circumstance, and really, how many times have you seen a bass player break a string? I’ve seen nearly five hundred concerts over the years, and I can only recall one band who suffered from a broken bass string while performing.
Plus, Shannon and Mark put on a thoroughly entertaining show by themselves, so they were able to draw attention away from everything, and Tim is still one of the best singers and performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Point is, in the end it worked out alright.
Give their debut, self-titled EP a listen, and if you like it, then buy it in ITUNES. And while they don’t have anything scheduled right now, keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE, because they’ll most likely be doing a show sometime within the next couple of months.
A band by the name of Silhouette was next up, and they brought the people, which I took as a positive sign. I mean, if a band can pull fifty plus people, they have to be good, right? The answer is yes… But not to everybody.
I don’t know what the whole deal was, but this was billed as their “comeback show”, and from hearing them talk, it seemed like the band had been almost completely reformed since they last played. I don’t know what they were like before, but now, they were a very hardcore metal act. My interest was lost immediately, especially because their first song was lyrically rapped, in the vein of Linkin Park. If that’s what works for them, okay, but I felt it seemed like they were stuck in a time warp. I mean, that’s been done, many times over at that. Luckily, all their music didn’t sound like that, but with all the screaming, I couldn’t even pretend to like them.
Their set dragged on, and I was relieved when they finally finished.
I mentioned this was an odd billing of bands, and here is where it got really interesting. There are a couple of genres that could pull off playing after a hardcore metal band, like a hardrock outfit, or maybe even a rock group, but Paco Estrada and his band are neither of those. In fact, they’re the polar opposite.
Paco’s backing band looked mostly the same as the last time I had seen him, with Scotty Isaacs manning the keyboard/piano, and there was still a drummer, Irish, whose drum kit was fairly small, consisting mainly of a few toms and a snare. But then you had Joel Bailey, who has been added as the bassist. Along with Pacos’ acoustic guitar, it makes for some lovely music, but a type that quickly pushed all the metal heads out the door.
A lot of Paco’s newer stuff is making it into his sets these days, like the opener, “American Girls”. Over the last decade or so, Paco has written some real gems in all the various bands he’s played with, but that one is by far one of the best. There’s a certain amount of nostalgia the song conveys, while it bears more of a folk sound. I believe they followed it with another new song, though Paco has been known to play some covers too, so it could go either way. Next, I know for sure they did a cover song, doing a more minimalist rendition of The Cars, “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?”. They do a mean cover of it, and put a pretty unique spin on a classic song. They ran through a couple more, with the first of those two really sticking out to me. I don’t think it was a cover, though it sounded like it could pass as one. I mean that as a compliment, because if it wasn’t, then it sounded authentic enough that it could have been written by one of the greats. As usual, some of Paco’s fan favorites had been saved for last, and he began to pluck away at the strings on his guitar, leading into “Breaking Down”. “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past. You put a smile on and try to believe it, but I know how much it hurts you to leave it…” he crooned. This is also one he’s known for adding portions of cover songs to, one of the best of which I’ve always thought was a Peter Gabriel song he used to tack on, but tonight, I think I found a new favorite. After one of the later choruses from his original, Paco belted out the chorus of U2’s “One”, “…You say, one love, one life when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it, leaves you baby if you don’t care for it…” There’s always a deep passion in Pacos’ voice when he sings, but it seemed magnified on this song. It bleed out onto his voice, especially on the line, “…You say love is a temple, love a higher law. Love is a temple, love the higher law. You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl. And I can’t be holding’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt…” as well as the chorus that followed. I was awestruck. That was one of the most amazing cover songs I have ever heard, and I know this may sound like sacrilege, but while I have never seen U2 live, I can’t imagine Bono could make his own song connect with and touch the audience the way Paco did this night. It didn’t seem like they had been up there anytime, but already they had arrived at the final song of their 38-minute long set, “Haunting Me”, which featured pieces of another cover song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
Paco’s music has gone through a lot of changes over the years, from playing with rock bands, to spending some time as a solo artist, but hopefully this latest band of his will stick around for a little while. Together they make what is probably the most unique sounding band Paco has had since One Love, and it’s different than most any other type of music out there. It’s gorgeous, and will most likely take your breath away.
Paco has a ton of records from his past, most of which can be bought via BANDCAMP. As for shows, I know he has one coming up on Saturday, March 2nd, where he will play at his old Dallas stomping grounds, The Curtain Club.
After a strange musical combination like that, going from a metal band to a very chill mostly acoustic act, it only made sense to wrap up the night with one final rock band, which was Awake in Theory.
Terry Kimmel began the band show with some hypnotic chords on his guitar, while he walked around the stage. After a minute, Eric Hawkens, who was out of sight, started singing, and eventually made his way on stage from stage left. Soon after was when their first song, “Barely Breathing”, really took off, as drummer, Raymond Chambers, bassist Adam Garcia, and the rhythm guitarist, Brad McCain, joined in. The song is fantastic and one of my favorites of theirs. It also works as a great opener, easing you into it with its slower start, and before you know it, they’ve hooked you. They proceeded to reel everyone in with songs like “Let Go” and “Playing the Victim”, but unfortunately, “everyone” wasn’t as many people as they deserved to have watching them. Like I said, the metal heads had left during the previous act, and now it looked like the only people who were still there were ones who were already Awake in Theory fans. Eric pointed out that, that wasn’t a problem with them, though. “…We’re just happy to play music…” he said, “…Especially when we get to play after Paco Estrada…” he added. They got back to the show with “Dangerous”, a song that saw Brad tear off into a killer guitar solo. Raymond pounded out a brief drum solo before their next song, “Innocence for the Innocent”, followed by their anthem of sorts for anyone serving in the military, “Hero You Hate”. Before starting it, Eric asked everyone to thank anyone they knew who was in the service, and then he mentioned something else. “…For anyone whose seen an Awake in Theory show recently, you know my brother was deployed.” He said. “Well, he’s home now…” You could tell he was excited and relieved by that, and for good reason. That tune is another highlight of their shows in my opinion, and once it was done, they cut loose a bit. Eric mentioned that they come from all over the area, like Frisco. “…He’s from Bowie…” he said, pointing at one of his band mates, quickly following it with something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, it’s not nice to say anyone’s from Bowie.” That got a laugh from all of their fans who had stuck around. Topic of conversation then switched to Raymond, who drives down to all of their shows from Lawton, Oklahoma, and Eric jokingly said he was the one they needed to work on and get to move here. I believe it was this next and final song that they said they would be recording soon, with work on an actually record to follow shortly after. It was “Daddy’s Little Girl”, which will serve as their lead single, and it capped off their 36-minute long set.
It was a great set, and personally, I thought they were better this night than a couple weeks before when I saw them in Dallas. They didn’t let the lack of a crowd affect them, instead putting on a show like they were playing in front of forty to fifty people, like any professional band should.
They were fun and lively, with everybody carrying their own weight. Adam really brought it this night, and owned it on the bass, while Terry and Brad also often stepped up to the forefront of the stage, taking over the spotlight and shredding on their guitars. It was just very well balanced, and also, they know how to work the audience and get everyone excited.
Their next show is going to be at Trees on Sunday, March 24th, where they will open for Adrenaline Mob and Nothing More. It will probably be at least one of the biggest shows they’ve done to date, and I’ll be willing to bet they’ll be even more intense than usually at that one.
They offered a great way to end the night, and despite me not really caring for a couple of the acts on the bill, this show was still well worth the drive to Fort Worth.
Said Kelley is a acoustic pop band based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and the trio was founded by longtime musician, Kelley Larson, who serves as both the voice of the band and the guitarist. Setting her apart from most singer/songwriters I’ve come across is the fact that her main priority is her husband and children, not music.
Her love for music is quite obvious, though, and she uses her family as the inspiration for her songs on the bands current release, “Cupcake”.
The lead track is “Sbwdsufs”. It’s a very rhythmic song, driven heavily by the drums, though the bass works its way into the groove quite well, accenting it and giving it a rather hypnotic beat. To balance it out you have Kelley’s voice, which often soars on the song, and gives it an infectious pop quality. When it’s all said and done, it’s proved to be a splendid introduction to the band and their sound. So, if you listen to only one of Said Kelley’s songs, let it be this one. Then afterwards, you should find yourself hungering for more.
The next song, “Make Me Up”, carries a deep message with it, and one that I imagine could hit home with a lot of people (particularly women). “…I don’t need no makeup to make me up… I don’t need your scales to weigh my worth…” Kelly croons on the chorus, which is all about being who you are and “…breaking the mold created by society…”. It’s a must listen for anyone who may think they don’t belong for one reason or another. i.e. because they aren’t “supermodel thin”. Granted, it doesn’t carry as much weight with me personally (I think being a guy has a lot to do with that), but I can easily see how this could be an empowering song.
Following it is the shorter, acoustic song, “White Walls”. As good as their more Pop based music is, I think they sound their best on this one, and the other slower tunes that are scattered throughout the record. Since first hearing it, I’ve liked the percussion instrument known as a cajon, and it’s used to make a tranquil sound on this tune. And as amazing as Kelly’s voice sounds on the other songs, it’s most captivating here, having a very passionate quality to it and fills the song with emotion.
“Forbidden Lover” has a fiery sound, in a sultry sense, that behooves the atmosphere it’s trying (and successfully) creates. However, it gets a little repetitive to me. Don’t misconstrue that, I’m not saying it’s a bad song, it’s just not one of my favorites.
That brings us to the title track from the album, “Cupcake”. The song is dripping with metaphors, which in turn makes it one of the smartest songs I’ve ever heard. It’s a love song of sorts, probably best summed up with the opening line, “I wanna be your cupcake. Something you look forward to…”, but the best parts are found deeper in the song, like the bridge towards the end, “…Simply sweet, delightfully delicious. Your ultimate fantasy…”. It’s simply a brilliant song, and with the occasional, not so subtle innuendos, it walks a very fine line of being both a sweet song, and a slightly dirty one, which is precisely what makes it so enjoyable.
Things again hit a lull with “Alex Fred”. It’s pointed out on the chorus that, “…This is not a love song about you, it’s just the hard reality of how I really feel about you…”, but it sure sounds like a love song. And a pretty good one at that.
The pace picks up a little with the “Gray Cloud”, which is the longest track on the album. It’s still fairly soft, but the percussion is more much more pronounced on it, than say, the previous song. It’s another highlight song on this fine record, and also another one that showcases Kelley’s gift of penning songs. For instance, this part from late in the second verse, “…As the winds around me dictate the choices I make. A shower of tears puddles around my knees. As I look to my gray cloud for peace…”. Just pay attention to it, and the lyrics alone will drag you in.
Some rather somber bass notes get “Free” going, which is a fitting emotion. The song paints a picture of not being entirely sure who you are as a person, even possible trapped in your own skin, but longing to get out and be, as the title suggests, free. It’s really not as depressing as it might sound, though. Instead, it’s kind of uplifting, speaking of a person who does see all the good qualities, even if she might not have at the time.
The best love song on the record is the next track, “Long Enough”. She just plainly professes her love for her special someone, singing that, “…Forever isn’t long enough…”, It’s straightforward and simple, and that’s often the best way to say stuff of that magnitude.
“Pop Rock Lips” is the closest thing to a sappy tune on this record. I don’t feel that “sappy” is the best word to describe it, though. Like the other songs found on the album, it simply provides a clever way of saying something sincere. Helping it out is the more electric vibe it has, sounding pretty poppy and upbeat, which is very behooving of the lyrics.
“Beautiful” brings things to a close, which is an entirely acoustic song, with the exception of a violin which is added at various points. The lack of the other instruments leaves Kelley’s voice completely exposed, which allows it to sound better here than any previous song. It will most likely leave you awestruck, and the violin serves to only intensify its beauty on this more spiritual based tune.
Over all, I’d say “Cupcake” is an excellent album, simply because all the songs that comprise it are so honest and open.
Unlike some music from other bands, it’s very easy to conclude what the subject matter is about, but are clever enough that they aren’t just plain. Even better than that is the fact that none of these songs sound like anything you’ve heard before. That is to say, the lyrics are better than a majority of the songs out there, and by leaps and bounds at that. And by listening to it, I guarantee you will find at least one song that evokes some type of emotion in you.
Said Kelley is:
Kelley Larson – Vocals & Guitar
Heather Weideman - Bass
Holly Maczuzak – Drums
Purchase the album on:
iTunes / CD Baby
Visit Said Kelley’s websites:
Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube / Reverbnation
Club Dada was hosting a pretty big show this night. A little over a month before this, the Alt/Country band, Somebody’s Darling had released their sophomore record, “Jank City Shakedown”, and after spending several weeks touring the country, the band was finally back in Dallas, for a homecoming/CD release show.
The doors at Dada opened at nine, and when my dad and I arrived shortly after, there was already a line out the door, and the venue was fairly crowded. People kept coming in, and by nine-thirty, when the first band was scheduled to go on, the place was already more packed than I’ve seen it get in an entire night at some other shows I’ve caught here, making it look like this was going to be a sell-out.
Goodnight Ned has the extreme pleasure of being one of the opening bands on this bill, and I was glad they were. I had heard a lot about them this year, and been a fan for probably six months or so, but had yet to see them live.
They were a large band, having six members, including a fiddle player, Andrew Juhasz, and a keyboardist, Jonas Martin. One thing that surprised me about them was how prominently the keys figured in to the music. I’ve seen lots of bands who use that instrument, but normally, at least from my experiences, it’s someone banging away on the keys to no avail, as it is overpowered by all the other instruments. That wasn’t the case here. In fact, there were several moments, especially in their first few songs, where Jonas had some integral parts, and even when he didn’t, you could still hear the keys crystal clear. The first three songs I didn’t know, and one of those they said was a new song. Afterwards, though, they got into some material I was somewhat familiar with, like their song about Dallas, which is aptly titled, “Dallas”. Both of the guitarists in the band, Chase McMillan and Conner Farrall, also both act as vocalists, and had traded off on some of the songs thus far, but they joined forces on this one, co-singing it. They both bring something different to the table, with Conner having what I guess I will call a more traditional voice, with a rich sound. Chase’s is equally as good, though it’s often a little gruffer, one could say a little rougher around the edges, but that gives a lot of character, and as good as they are on their own, when combined, their voices sound incredible. Another song I wasn’t sure of followed, and then the faster paced, “Make Me Some Money”, which is a pretty catchy tune to boot. The lead track from their “Smoke From the Sails”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, came next, I believe they said it was a song about the infamous duo and “…If they hadn’t gotten shot.” The band then pulled out another song, and I think this one they noted had never been played live until now. It was also somewhere around this point in the show that drummer, Michael Munoz, said if anyone was cold (as it was freezing outside, or at least felt like it) they could go buy a Goodnight Ned shirt. “…They aren’t long sleeve, but if you buy about ten of them they’ll keep you warm.” he said, laughing a bit. They had been playing for awhile, longer than I thought they would, but at this point they said they had only had two songs left, and both could be found on their latest CD. The first of those two was “Papa Jack’s Bag”, while concluding their 45 minute set was “Fruit On the Tree”.
I enjoyed their live show just as much as I hoped as I would, and then some. Their music is along the lines of Americana and Folk, though you’ll catch some hints of Rock periodically, too. The fact that they have two singers makes them pretty versatile, and aside from switching out, and even co-singing, they also use some harmonies, with both Michael and Jonas being capable backing vocalists. There was even one song where there of them sang a line in a round, which sounded fantastic. And then you have their live show, which is pretty entertaining. The stage seemed a little cramped with six people on stage, but they didn’t let that hinder them, as they all put on a topnotch performance, including bassist, Ryan McLaughlin.
You can find their music in ITUNES, where they have an LP, EP, and a single (which is “Make Me Some Money” and is part of a compilation CD). They also have a couple of shows lined up for November, both of which will be in Dallas. The first will be on the 10th at the White Rock Lake Festival, while on the 24th you can catch them at the Granada Theater opening for Turnpike Troubadours.
Usually, it’s the changing of gear that takes so long, as one band gets their stuff off stage so the next one can set their stuff up. But tonight, they had almost completely taken care of that issue. Every band used the same basic drum kit, and actually, Somebody’s Darling’s gear was already on stage. So Goodnight Ned basically just had to get their guitars out of there, and then they could sound check.
Somebody’s Darling didn’t start right at the scheduled 10:30 set time, but they weren’t far behind it. And once they were all ready, singer and guitarist, Amber Farris, announced that for this show, there would be no old songs, only new ones. “…’Cause that’s how we roll.” She finished, then started strumming away on her guitar. Lead guitarist, David Ponder, soon joined her, and they were off on a 60-minute set, which began with “Weight of the Fear”. I find it to be one of the best songs from “Jank City Shakedown”, and it has a vibe that is infectious, making it a good one to set the tone with. “Yeah. We’re getting there!” Amber said, as drummer, Nate Wedan, ripped right into the next song with a short drum solo. I think that song was “Back to the Bottle”, but what they did afterwards, I was unsure of. As Amber said from the get go, it was only new songs this night, and that next song may have been a newer one of the bands, but it is also not on the record. But regardless, it sounded quite good. Upon finishing it, Amber traded her electric guitar out for an acoustic, as the band brought things down a few notches, with the beautiful, “Maybe”. It may have been a slower song from what they had done so far, but the rest of the band was still very present, and along with the guitar and drums, you could also hear Mike Talley’s work on the keys, and Wade Cofer’s bass. Despite that, it still shows a more tender side of the band, on a few different levels, such as the lyrics, where Amber passionately belts out the chorus, “…Maybe, we can be friends again. We could fall in love again. Maybe…”. “My Own Medicine” came next, and that was where the band really slowed things down. However, once the final notes had been played, they got back to business with all electric instruments. The crowd, which was packed in so tightly there was hardly any room to move around, had been pretty lively through all of the show so far, but the band further enlivened them with “Pretty Faces”, and then another which is not on the album, but was pretty killer, and I found it to be a standout of their set. Once she was finished with her guitar part, Amber again swapped out for an acoustic ax, to do the last slow song from the new album, the delicate sounding, “Pretty Leaves”. That’s the next to last track from the album, and next they did the song that proceeds it, “The Middle”. It’s haunting in a way, as part of the chorus is, “…I guess we all got to die…”, which makes it next to impossible to not think about the end. Though it’s worth pointing out that it is quickly followed by, “…I just hope to see you one more time…”. They kept on rolling with “Keep Shakin’”, and then welcomed a special guest to the stage. They stated that Jonathan Tyler (of Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights) added his touch to some of the songs on their new record, and they wanted him to help them out for the next song. It took Jonathan a few minutes, but he finally got up to the stage, pulled out a harmonica and then grabbed a mic. The song he aided them on was the lead track, and I believe a single from “Jank City Shakedown”, “Cold Hands”, which was the one song I had been wanting to hear since they started. I should have known they’d save it for close to last. Also, Mr. Tyler killed it on the harmonica, which was heard much more easily and clearly in the live setting then on the record, and had a very bluesy/soulful sound. They were almost done for the night, but upon finishing that song, Amber thanked everyone for coming out and supporting them, not only this night, but all the nights over the past several years. “…If y’all keep coming to shows, we’ll keep rocking…” she promised everyone. They had done almost everything from their new album, except for one song, “Wedding Clothes”, which concluded their set, and towards the end of the number, Amber hopped off the stage and into the crowd. From where I stood, I couldn’t even see her, but soon she reemerged and joined her band mates, as they finished out the song.
Truthfully, I’m more of a newer fan of the bands. It’s my dad who thoroughly enjoys them, and I know he really liked the show this night. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re an old fan or not, it’s not like it’s a requirement to enjoy a performance, and enjoy it I did.
Somebody’s Darling is really one of the best bands you’ve probably never heard of, and I guarantee you, Amber Farris is one of the best vocalists you’ve most likely not yet heard. But she of course isn’t the only member of the band…
David was phenomenal this night, cutting loose on his guitar and letting loose some stellar riffs on many of the songs, that brought a whole new level of depth to the tunes. Nate’s drumming flawless, while Wade rounded out the rhythm section, having the calm, laid-back demeanor that so many bassists have. And on the songs he added some backing vocals to… Wow. Then you have Mike, who is a new addition to the band from the last time I had seen them, and frankly, I was unsure about the keys at first. But like I said about the first band, the keyboard could be heard very clearly, and brought a nice dynamic to the sound.
Speaking of sound, the band has gotten away from their real Country/Americana sound that could be heard on the first record, and while it’s still there, they’ve also grown into more of a Rock band, with dashes of Blues and Soul. It’s a noticeable transition in sound, but not a bad move for the band, because it doesn’t come across as them trying to reinvent themselves. Rather, it’s growth, and I’ve said before about many other artists, being able to listen to a bands albums, and hear the differences and changes from their earlier stuff to their current stuff, is exactly what separates a good band from a great band.
First off, you can find both of the bands records in iTunes. Their first album was self-titled, and again, this new one is called “Jank City Shakedown”. As far as the bands shows go, it would be best to go to their TOUR PAGE, so you can keep up to date, but as of right now their future shows include: October 26th and 27th at the Parrot Bar inside the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. On November 2nd they will again be at the Choctaw Casino, only this time at the one in Grant, Oklahoma. November 8th will find them down in Austin at the White Horse Bar, while the next night they will be at Reno’s Argenta Café in Little Rock, Arkansas, before coming back to Dallas on November 10th for a gig at the City Tavern. On November 17th they will be in Princeton, TX at Backyard Brickworks. The Kessler Theater in Dallas will host the band on November 30th, and they also have one more show lined up for now which is on December 7th at Hopkins Icehouse in Texarkana, Arkansas.
Now, Somebody’s Darling may have been the headliner, but there was still one band after them. However, taking an earlier time slot like that is starting to become the best thing, because the later it gets, the more people you see leaving, unless they are specifically there to see the band going on later.
Such was the case now, and with Somebody’s Darling being done, people began to vacate the club, and in a matter of ten to fifteen minutes the crowd had thinned out to a few dozen or so people still concerned about the music. There may have been more people than that, though, however they were out on the patio, smoking and socializing.
Still, Bravo, Max! had to perform, and once Somebody’s Darling had gotten all their gear of stage, sans most of the drum kit, they quickly set their stuff up, and then went to work. They opened their set with one of their newer songs, which I know I’ve heard a few times at this point, and it grows on me with each listen. When it was over, singer and guitarist, Johnny Beauford, stated it was the title track from their next record. “…Which will come out sometime… Before you die.” He added. I guess that means there’s no hurry on getting it out, but on the bright side, at least there will be another Bravo, Max album at some point in the future. They did another song that will no doubt make that album, and is their current single, “Pills”. There are some lengthy instrumental portions on that song, which I’m not always keen on, but this is one song where that helps make it. The piano part, which is played by Garrett Padgett, is peaceful and calming, while the rest of the instruments create a pretty catchy melody, and will have you bobbing your head along to it. At this point, Johnny pointed out the merch table, telling everyone who might not yet have gotten the new Somebody’s Darling record, to do so before they left, saying something to the effect of, “…I’m gonna be the best damn salesman there is tonight…”. At another point later in the show he even again asked everyone to go support the bands, saying there were two great records available over there. “There are more than two. There’s at least three or four, or more…” responded his cousin and bass player, Ben Gastright. For their next tune, Garrett left the keys and picked up his guitar, while Ben announced the song title, which was a B-side from their first record, “Horn In Hell”. You don’t typically think of B-sides as being all that strong, but this song is quite the contrary, and live I found it to be even a bit more enjoyable than the recording. Garrett got back to the keys for the next song, while drummer, Jonathan Jackson, got a steady beat going, beginning the slower, “Take Your Fill”. When the song concluded, someone brought a drink up to Johnny and handed it to him, then the guy said something. “…This guy gives me this drink, but then tells me we need to do a specific song…” he said laughing, and also thanked the dude. He then asked him an important question, “Is there ecstasy in this?” It was a cover song the gentleman wanted to hear, and since they didn’t know it, they did the next best thing… Sort of. Johnny started plucking away at his guitar strings, doing a little bit of the instrumental piece, “Before The Party”, with Jonathan, Ben and Garrett gradually joining in to get the real song, which was “Dog’s Light”, underway. There’s something about that song, that every time I hear it, be it live or listening to the recording, that always gets me. I mean, it’s hard not to soak in the song and marvel at its beauty. And then you have that last line, “…It’s too late to say goodbye. It’s too late to ask for more!”, which Johnny belts out with a passion, making it devastatingly powerful. The pace sped up with the song, “Kiss”, and afterwards, Ben made a bold statement, that the audience members “…hate plaid”. That comment came after both Johnny and Garrett had gotten drinks handed to them, while he and Jonathan were being neglected, and coincidently they both were both wearing plaid shirts. He was joking of course, but that comment apparently got someone thinking, because shortly after, he too had someone by him a drink. Garrett got back on the extra guitar for one of their most rocking songs, “Hotel Denalian”, which is a little more up tempo at live shows, almost like they’re are racing to finish it, then followed that with what I believe was “Losing Her”, another B-side track. Now, I really like all of the bands material, but of course have a personal favorite, and that one I had only heard live once, right here on Dada’s stage back in January. But the handful of others shows I’ve seen since, it has been absent, so I was quite ecstatic when Johnny set it up, saying, “This song is about desserts.” He then led the band into “German Chocolate Cake”. It was with that song that I felt the momentum began to shift. There’s absolutely no question this night belonged to the band before them, but even though they were making no real play to, Bravo, Max! seemed to be inching into a position to be the band of the night. They kept right on rocking with another song, which again required two guitars, and then did a cover of a song by Father John Misty. Now, I had never heard of him before, but Johnny told everyone he was pretty big, adding, “…He’s on Youtube.”He had a stand in front of him, and thumbed through it to find the sheet music for the song, which was “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”. That should have served as a sign right there that there could be problems, but that never even crossed my mind. Then, maybe halfway through the song, Johnny messed up, both on the lyrics and his guitar part. His band mates almost stopped, too, though he urged them to keep on, while he tried to get back into it, which he eventually did. It didn’t go off without a hitch, but it was funny, and even the band thought so. Right after, Ben and Johnny traded spots, with him taking over bass duties for a song. “What?! We didn’t mess up that song! We played it perfectly!” said Ben, in a joking manner, though serious seeming manner, after he had gotten in front of the mic. He went on to say, “…I’m not much of a singer, but I’m going to sing this song…” He might not be much of a singer, but he sounded pretty good on this song, whatever it was. They then returned to their normal setup to do what was supposed to be their final song of the night, “Empire State”, which is really one of their best ones. It’s simple, yet deep, and there’s something about the line, “…You told me once, as we stood on the street, that man were just born to die…”, that should get your attention.
As I said, that was supposed to be it for the band, but their fans that were out this night were more than mere fans. Fanatics. That would be a good word to describe them, and they repeatedly yelled for more, until the band finally gave it to them. It was another cover, this time from the band Delta Spirit. I do like Delta Spirit’s stuff, but honestly, I found Bravo, Max’s! rendition of “Bushwick Blues” to have a little more character, and be more enjoyable. Now that really was it, or so the band thought, but again, the crowd wanted more. They talked amongst themselves for a moment, then decided on a song, which was one of their originals, “Hey Jane”. Upon finishing it, Johnny fell down, rolling onto his back, looking like he was exhausted, and I’m sure the band was tired of what had been a pretty lengthy set, but the audience still asked for more.
I doubted it would happen, and got ready to leave, only to again look at the stage when I heard a harmonica. Evidently they had decided to do one last song, which made for an impressive 78-minute long set, and at the end Johnny stated they had “literally” played everything they knew how to.
I said they got put into a position to do this, and out of the handful of people who stuck around, I don’t think anyone could disagree with this statement; Bravo, Max! stole the rug right out from under Somebody’s Darling. It’s not like the meant to, but especially with those four song encores, they just managed to upstage them.
That also made this, hands down, the best Bravo, Max! show I’ve seen to date. Not just because of the extended setlist, but they were flawless this night… Well, almost. I’ll excuse that cover song. And they were in even better form than usual.
If you haven’t heard or seen the band, you are really missing out, and they have a couple shows in the coming months. On November 10th they’ll be in Austin at the Frontier Bar. The on November 17th they’ll be up in Denver, CO at the Lion’s Lair. And for right now, their next Dallas show will be on January 5th at Sundown at Granada, and that one will be free. Oh, and be sure to check out their album, “Dog’s Light”.
This was an impeccable night of music, and it’s not often you see a show where every band leaves you in awe, but that was what happened this night. Again, if you don’t know any of those bands, check them out, especially in the live setting. They will not disappoint you.
There was a festival going on in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas this weekend, and the first day of it was this particular Friday night.
Now, I can’t fully criticize something that brought hundreds of people down to this area that otherwise wouldn’t have been down here, simply because it helps out the area. But I can criticize the fact that it made parking absolutely horrendous!
This festival not only took up one of the venues, but also the large parking lot behind said venue, where two additional stages were set up. So, parking there wasn’t an option, and as I cruised by my other typical lots, they were all filled up. Even the lots I usually don’t use were full, and all the parking meters were taken. I finally did come across a lot that still had one space available, and the attendant proceeded to charge me fifteen dollars to park there. So, not only did this festival make parking scarce, it also resulted in some price gouging (ten dollars is usually the most you pay to park in the area, and even that’s high.)
But I am not a hipster, so I wasn’t going to partake in any of the Indie bands that were performing at that. Instead, I was headed to The Liquid Lounge, which was hosting a very eclectic night of music with a couple acts I am a fan of, and a couple more whom I knew little about.
One of those bands I knew little about was the first act, the four-piece group, Everywhere. Supposedly, this was the bands first ever official show. The group was comprised of Shannon Barrett, who was the lead singer, Michael Maney, Shannon Barrett and Lance Lindsey, all of whom played keys of some sorts, and even added some backing vocals on most of the songs.
With that many keyboards, their music of course had an electronic sound to it, as well as having a big MIDI sound. And I preface this by saying that is not usually a genre I care too much for. However, the first song they did sounded quite good, and Shannon has a pretty killer voice to boot. Before their second one, Shannon stated that they started this band four years, saying he and his band mates played other instruments, like guitars, and then one day decided to learn to play instruments they had never touched before. Apparently that was about two years ago, and he joked that it took them until now to fully learn how to play these “new” instruments.
They played a lengthy set, and even when they finished they were told they had time for one more, which they took advantage of and indeed did one more song.
By the end of it, I had begun to grow tired of the music, but that simply was because this isn’t the main style of music I listen to. But until those last three, or maybe four songs, I was enjoying it quite a bit, and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
They don’t have any future shows scheduled at the moment, but they do have a three song EP available on their BANDCAMP PAGE for three dollars.
Second up was singer, Arielle O’Keefe, whose setup for this show was a little different from the previous ones I had seen. Before, she has used a keyboard/piano on some songs, but all she had in tow for this show was her trusty loop station, which she sat in her lap. In some ways that made the show even better, because watching and listening to her build the various parts for the songs is something to marvel at.
She opened her set with a new song, called “OCD”, which I don’t believe I had heard before, though I found it to be one of the best songs of her set. That was followed by an older song, which I believe was “Anything but Love”, and then a cover. She said it was an older song, and while don’t remember the exact title, it was something like, “Old Gold Ring”. It was a very good tune, and lyrically it seemed to fit rather well with her originals, almost like she could have written it, and I’m sure she definitely put her own unique twist on it. Afterwards, she proceeded to set up her next song, saying she had written it “a long time ago”. “…I think I was nineteen…” she noted, pausing briefly to think and confirm that. “…Yeah… And I’m twenty-one now…” she finished. I wasn’t the only one who found that funny, as I saw a few other people chuckling at that, because the way she had made it sound, it was like she had written it almost a decade before. She went on to say there are about four or five different versions of the song out there, “…But this is the loop station version”, she added, and out of the versions of “Monster” that I’ve heard, this one is my favorite. Of course she had to build a track for it first, but once she did that, the song got underway. The lyrics to it are just outstanding, and something you wouldn’t think a (at the time) nineteen year old would write. For example, the chorus, “…My heart’s a muscle and I, I give it exercise. I make it stronger so that I can take it when it breaks…”. Upon finishing it, she stated she had two songs left, both of which were covers. She went through the programmed tracks on her loop station, accidently starting one, then saying “That definitely isn’t it.” Once she found the right one, and it got going, she began to bust out a rap, specifically JAY-Z’s, “I Just Want to Love You (Give it to Me)”. I’ve seen her do this one once before, and it truly is hysterical to see her, of all people, doing a rap song, especially since she does it with such a high-level of seriousness. There was one moment she kind of broke out laughing, but quickly pulled it together, only to let it out after she abruptly stopped it, saying, “That’s all I know.” She announced her final song was a cover of “Rejazz” by Regina Spektor, and she was going to do this song a little differently. That difference was she was going to perform it a cappella. Let’s be honest, not many singers can pull of a song in that format, and I was a bit skeptical at first, but she proved to be an exception. “Thought I’d cry for you forever, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t…” she started, and personally, I found myself completely mesmerized from that point. There’s no doubt that she has an incredible voice, but with it being laid out completely bare like this, you got to see (or rather hear) just what she is capable of. And judging from this, there is no limit to what she is capable of. For this show, I found that song to be the best of her set. I also liked how she ended it, which was after the last line, “…Thought I’d cry for you forever, but I couldn’t, so I didn’t”, she added a little laugh, which captured and conveyed quite a bit of emotion.
It was on the short side, but it was still an impressive show she put on, and part of me likes the fact that she only used the loop station, because it does allow her voice to shine through the most.
You really need to see her in these small Dallas area venues while you have the chance, and as of right now her next two shows will be at Opening Bell Coffee Shop in Dallas. One will be on October 19th, the other December 15th. Also, you can head out to the Lakewood Theater in Dallas on November 1st for the premier of her music video for her new song, “Creature of Habit” (a song that has surprisingly been absent from the past couple of shows of hers I’ve seen.) Oh, and be sure to check out/purchase her music on her BANDCAMP PAGE.
Up next was a rock band, and the band I was most looking forward to seeing this night, Always the Alibi. They are a newer band, who doesn’t have too many shows under their belt, hence why I haven’t seen them before (well, that and when they have played I’ve been out at other shows). But after seeing this one, I’m really gonna have to try to make some more of their shows.
Their 40 minute set began with their original song, “Beautiful Girl”. As the title suggests, it’s a love song, however, it is not as mundane as most them are, and also has a nice little guitar solo towards the end, from Kelly Panter. The guitars and bass started to go silent, but drummer, Richard Muenckler, kept things going, winding that song into their next, “Dream”. It was another heavy hitter, and both of those served as a great way to kick off the show. In fact, I had only just started to listen to their music again a few days before the show, and had forgot how incredible their songs were, and just with those first two I was finding it to be just as good live, and perhaps even more engrossing than their record. After that one, they stopped for a minute, as singer and rhythm guitarist, Henry Coke, told everyone who they were, and chatted with the crowd briefly. They then got back to business with “She’s Letting Go”, which was followed up by a newer one of the bands, “Ain’t Another Girl”. Next, they went into cover mode, doing “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer. In all honesty, I haven’t listened to much Weezer (and by not much, I mean practically nothing), and while this may sound like sacrilege, I liked Always the Alibi’s version more than Weezer’s. Frankly, I’ve never been too keen on Rivers Cuomo’s voice, however, I really like Henry’s, which would probably be the main reason I found their rendition more appealing. They had a Muse song in store next, and Evan Scates kicked it off with a short bass intro/solo. The song was “Time is Running Out”, which sounded killer, and I thought they did it justice. They returned to their stuff after that, doing a catchy number, and one of my personal favorites, “Wave on the Sand”. “Edge of the World”, which was another new one, came next, and if memory serves me correctly, Kelly started this one with some mesmerizing guitar chords. Out of those two new ones this night, it was my favorite, and I thought it was even one of the most standout songs of their show. That brought them to the final song of their set, the powerful, anthem like, “We Are Waiting”, which not only seemed like an appropriate song to end on, but also left me wanting to hear more from the band.
I can’t say I went into this with any expectations (that’s not to say I thought they would be bad), but by the end of it all I was blown away. The stage show was good, considering the size of the stage at the Liquid Lounge, and there is almost no room to move around if you have four or more members in your band. While the music is sensational, and is some very radio friendly Indie Rock. Personally, I wouldn’t compare them to any one particular band, as I think they do have some slight distinctions that makes the music all their own, but if you listen to mainstream radio there is a very good chance that Always the Alibi’s music will appeal to you.
I also want to note (and thanks to Kelly for telling me this before the show) that Henry is left-handed, though uses a guitar that is made for right-handed people. That might not seem too out of the ordinary, but consider this, he doesn’t restring it or anything, so all the strings are opposite of how they would traditionally be. Pretty remarkable, and it made watching him play the guitar quite interesting.
They’re a very awesome band, and I’d highly recommend checking them out. You can find a FREE download of one of their songs on their REVERBNATION PAGE, as well as listen to their other material. They should also be doing a CD release show in the near future (close to the end of the year), so if you’d be interested in attending, stay tuned to their FACEBOOK PAGE to see their updates, Trust me, you’ll want to see that one.
Finally for this night, was Velvet Guard, who was celebrating the release of their debut EP.
I had listened to the band online before, but knew little about them. In fact, until they got on stage, I had no idea that they were a duo, of Jon Martin and David Trust, the former being the drummer, while the latter sings and plays guitar. I really didn’t even remember too much about what their music sounded like, leaving me clueless as to what I was in for.
I’ll admit, the first handful of songs left me unsure, and while I didn’t dislike their music, I wasn’t smitten with it, either. It was mainly due to David, has a very unique voice, and in my opinion, one you need to warm up to. He has a certain twang when he sings, and also his voice is in more of the bass range, giving it a booming quality that will command your attention, regardless of if your even a fan or not. Then, the further they got into it, I began to enjoy it more and more. To be a duo, they had a pretty full sound, and when he was able, David used all of the empty room on the stage, and even at a couple points during their set jumped off into the crowd, and played amongst the fans for a few seconds. And the music is rather interesting, in a good way, of course.
They finished up their planned set, and thanked everyone for coming out to the show, but then their fans, of whom there were a decent amount, started shouting for more. The band checked with the sound guy to see if they even had time, and they did, leading them to do an impromptu encore. But that still wasn’t for their fans, though it had, as they had no more time, and David again thanked everyone who made it out, as well as the three bands who opened the show for them.
I wouldn’t say they made me into a true fan. That’s to say, I didn’t feel compelled to buy their EP, nor do I think would go to a venue specifically to see them, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I might not have been crazy about them, but they’re still a rockin’ duo.
You can listen to their EP on their REVERBNATION PAGE, as well as download a couple demo versions of some of the songs for free. And if you would like to purchase their EP, well, you’re gonna have go to a show, so keep a look out on their FACEBOOK PAGE to see when they’ll have another one.
This really was a great, eclectic night of music, and while I’m used to show bills that “make sense” with all the acts being very similar in sound, I really enjoyed this, though. It was a smorgasbord of sound, and lineups like this, where you get to sample several different genres, don’t happen often enough… I say we need more of that.