Centro-matic’s December Tour Looks to be Their Last

image(Photo credit: Matt Pence)

Late last night, Centro-matic announced some news that was heartbreaking to fans: an indefinite hiatus.

That is, perhaps, putting it mildly, as the letter singer Will Johnson penned makes it sound like the long-running Denton-based band is officially done, saying that, “the time finally feels right to celebrate the existence of this thing, then let it rest.”

Few bands last two decades, especially if they never receive any commercial success, and why Centro-matic didn’t is beyond me.

I was late to the party in the first place, only becoming a fan within the last few years, but upon seeing them I was enthralled, not only by their amazing songs, but also by their superb performance.

In many ways, this does seem like a fitting time to end the band. Their eleventh and most recent album was titled Take Pride in Your Long Odds; and while the odds may have never been stacked in their favor, this band kept on, making music not only because they loved it, but also because their ever loyal fans did.

So, if you’re lucky enough to be in one of the thirteen cities the band will be stopping in this December, make sure you go see them. Celebrate their career with them and rejoice in the fact that they existed in the first place.

After all, Centro-matic may have never been iconic (at least not on a large-scale), but they are a legend in their own right. The last of a dying breed.

"One thing that has resonated with us increasingly since the start is the devotion, love and generosity within our community of fans.  We were never the most popular band on the block, but the kind of long-running support we’ve received has been something consistent and immeasurable. The climate of music has morphed into a pretty different thing since we started. Even as the times have changed around us, the connection with our fans has easily and always provided our biggest source of inspiration over this incredible journey." - Will Johnson

(If you are not acquainted with Centro-matic, you can download a 24-song sampler for free HERE.)

December 2014 Tour Dates:

Dec 04           Nashville, TN            Mercy Lounge
Dec 05           Athens, GA                Georgia Theater #
Dec 06           Raleigh, NC              Kings Barcade *
Dec 07           Washington, DC       DC9 *
Dec 09           Philadelphia, PA      Boot & Saddle *
Dec 10           Brooklyn, NY             Rough Trade *
Dec 11           New York, NY            Mercury Lounge ^
Dec 12           Allston, MA               Great Scott ^
Dec 14           Buffalo, NY                 Sportmen’s Tavern &
Dec 16           Chicago, IL                 Schubas Tavern ~
Dec 17           St Louis, MO              Off Broadway ~
Dec 19           Austin, TX                  The Parish +
Dec 20           Denton, TX                Dans Silverleaf ~
Dec 21           Denton, TX                Dans Silverleaf @

# with Dead Confederate
* with Elephant Micah
^ with Anders Parker and Cloud Badge
& with Roger Bryan and the Orphans
~ with Telegraph Canyon
+ with Monahans
@ with Slobberbone

Dallas Rockers The Roomsounds new ‘Lay My Head Down’ Hits Sept. 30

imageThe four men who collectively call themselves The Roomsounds carry rock’s touchstone references in their bluesy, southern-tinged music, from the Beatles, Stones and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to Big Star, the Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, Oasis and the Jayhawks. But their new single, “Lay My Head Down,” a manifesto about the healing power of rock ’n’ roll, paves its own way into the pantheon with a spirited groove durable enough to become one of tomorrow’s classics. Available Sept. 30, the song was written by lead singer/guitarist Ryan Michael and recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. The band was invited there by second-generation owner Rodney Hall, son of renowned songwriter and producer Rick Hall, after the younger Hall caught a video posted by a mutual friend.

Michael, guitarist/vocalist Sam Janik, bassist/vocalist Red Coker and drummer Dan Malone were fans of the studio and aware of its place in rock history, but the full impact of that history didn’t sink in until they arrived and absorbed the vibe firsthand. They couldnt help but capture the spirit of those who’d previously made music in that hallowed space, from Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to Duane Allman.

The song follows their self-titled 2012 debut album, which led to a Dallas Observer nomination for Best Rock Act and a cover story in LIT Monthly as the publication’s Best Band for 2012.

The band, whose members transplanted themselves from New England to Texas after Michael found inspiration there during an extended visit, are still laying down tracks for an upcoming album. They expect to complete it during their upcoming visit to Muscle Shoals. But it took only one visit for Rick Hall to label them “the future of rock ’n’ roll.” Clearly, it’s in good hands.

Tour dates:
Oct. 2 – AT&T Patio Session, Sammons Park, Dallas
Oct. 10 – Dirty Rooster, Allen, Texas
Oct. 11 – Flying Saucer, Fort Worth
Oct. 16 – The Blue Light, Lubbock
Oct. 17 – The Golden Light Cantina, Amarillo
Oct. 18 – Goldthwaite Music Festival, Goldthwaite, Texas
Oct. 21 – Bear’s Den Pizza, Conway, Ark.

Nov. 22 – The Rustic, Dallas

Follow The Roomsounds:
theroomsounds.com /facebook.com/theroomsounds /twitter.com/theroomsounds

Macabre Rock Favorite Nim Vind to Release New Album “Saturday Night Séance Songs” on October 14th via House of Vind


There was a time when rock n’ roll was the pulse of an entire generation, with millions finding salvation in “the Devil’s music” – its rhythm causing hips to gyrate, hair to grow longer than ever before, and the need to rebel against authority. Rock n’ roll swept the globe like a plague infecting the youth. Yet, here we are in 2014, half a century later, and it seems that time has forgotten the true genre. Does anyone crave the rawness, long for the hook, or yearn for the live sound? Or have we all become pixilated, force-fed, digi-pop drones?

etro-styled, horror-punk influenced rock n’ roller NIM VIND is set to satiate that craving, with his brand new record,Saturday Night Séance Songs, set to hit stores on October 14, 2014 via front man Nim’s own House of Vind label. NIM VIND invites the listener’s mind into his dark and stormy world with Saturday Night Séance Songs. Tracks like the 1980’s arena style track ‘Astronomicon’ and a modern death rock Danzig/Misfits summoning ‘Philistine Beat’ are just part of the story.

“When I first heard ‘Rumble’ by Link Wray, or ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus, or ‘Last Caress’ by Danzig's Misfits, I knew there was another form of communicating with people that was void of barriers of language, color or any predisposition. It’s a storm recognized as such by anyone who crosses its path. It’s slamming into your brain like a tornado. It can’t be denied,” offers Vind.

None of this throwback influence is surprising, seeing as that NIM VIND and his real life band of brothers (drummerAnthony Kilz and bassist Robbie K) were raised by a symphony musician father and CBGB’s first-wave uncles. These influences also inspired Vind’s production choices, as he looked to legendary rock producer Todd Rundgren for mixing on his other worldly track ‘Astronomicon’. Only Todd, the writer of such monumental hits as ‘Hello It’s Me’ and ‘Bang The Drum All Day’, would know how to properly handle a track like this, even added his famous “haunted” guitar playing on this track!

“Todd Rundgren and I were both on Panacea Entertainment’s Management roster out of LA. I pretty much just begged them to show him my song ‘Astronomicon’ the entire time I was with them,” adds Vind.“One day I got a forwarded message: “I’m ready now, send the track”. He was done and had it back in two hours. No recalls. Nothing. The guy rules. I loved it. I met him later that month and nervously asked him how he was doing. All he said was “astronomical” with a wry smile. That’s all I needed.”

In addition, NIM VIND sought out power mixer Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, MeatloafSteel Panther) for Saturday Night Séance Songs, who has taken the NIM VIND signature sound to heightened frenzy. More underground additions to the critical team are Canadian music veteran engineer Doug Fury (Bif Naked) and up-and-coming Anaheim, CA mixer David Irish (sound tech for punk band “X”).

NIM VIND’s cult following is steadily anticipating the new release. If you haven’t heard of NIM VIND by now, you’ll quickly learn that his underground following has been increasing for years. Vind boasts two prior tomes released on independent German labels and a good deal of international touring, as well as stints as the front man of family project and ghoul-core greats Mr. Underhill, which segued into a position as the dreamy bassist with Vans Warped Tour sweethearts The Vincent Black Shadow.

Fast forward to present day, when NIM VIND and his band of horror punks turn nightly shows into Sci-Fi sock hops. Throwback guitar riffs coupled with in-the-pocket pounding drum beats highlight sickening bass grooves, skillfully driven by Nim’s smooth baritone vocals soaked in mentally ill-laden poetry.

NIM VIND is continually assembling the masses of underground believers, recently teaming up with heavy metal forefather Jonny Zazula to create his new label, House of Vind, withSaturday Night Séance Songsleading the charge as their first release. More information on future releases will be released soon.

Italian Alt-Metal Band Klogr Releases Music Video for ‘Failing Crowns’ + Updates Fans on Upcoming Live/Documentary DVD

imageDuring last spring’s European Tour with Prong, Italian alt-metal band KLOGR had goPRO cameras on stage, in addition to having the band’s official photographer, Nico Cagarelli, film their shows backstage and on-the-road. The resulting footage will end up on a live/documentary DVD, to be released next year! Watch a teaser here for an upcoming full concert “Live in Hamburg” to be released next week in support of the upcoming DVD.

That’s not all – KLOGR have more news in store for their diehard fans, which will be announced later this year.

For now, you can enjoy an amazing preview of what’s to come via KLOGR's new video for ‘Failing Crowns’, one of the most appreciated tracks off of the band’s latest release, Black Snow.

Although it’s not the most straight-to-the-point track, it is one of the more representative songs of the band, with its progressive groove and smacking riffs. The ‘Failing Crowns’ single is available digitally via iTunes as part of a special package, including the original album version, a live version recorded in Hamburg, and a live version of the track ‘Draw Closer’, also recorded in Hamburg. Get the single package HERE.

KLOGR’s new full-length album, Black Snow, is available for purchase in the United States via The End Record’s “Omega Order” mailorder system. The CD is available now via this link, so make sure to order your copy NOW!

You can also order Black Snow now via iTunes - available as a special digital edition which includes the band’s 2011’s Till You Turn EP and Ground Zero 11-11-11 Live. Download your copy here. Recorded between Zeta Factory and Green River studios, Black Snow was produced by KLOGR frontman and mastermind Rusty and Tancredi Barbuscia.

Saturday, September 13th, 2014 - The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Day II – The Toadies Wrap Up Their Festival with One Last Run Through Rubberneck

The gates at Panther Island Pavilion were set to open at three this afternoon, and unsurprisingly, there weren’t many people there at that time.

Still, there were a little more than a dozen people already lined up; and once they finally did open the gates, it became clear everyone either already had a wristband from attending the first night of Dia de los Toadies or they had their tickets for the day already printed out.

It was a die-hard bunch right there.

Of course, the bands weren’t slated to start until 3:40, meaning there was a lot of time to kill. Time that was best spent either checking out the food trucks that were there, or just sitting at the tables around said trucks, resting up for the long day that lie ahead.

This was my fourth Dia (all have been consecutive), and the weather was nicer this day than any of those in years past. The clouds were keeping the sun at bay, to the point it looked like rain may not be out of the question. That also kept the temperature more than bearable. In fact, a jacket didn’t hurt, even in the early afternoon. This is Texas, though, so those conditions didn’t last forever.

The event got started over on the smaller stage, and since it was in Fort Worth, it was appropriate that a hometown band like Blank-Men would be the first to play.

They stood apart from everyone else this day in the fact that they relied heavily on electronics/synthesizers.

Vocalist and bassist Sam Swanson, guitarist and vocalist Alex Atchley, drummer Joey Kendall and synth player Emily Thompson opened with an instrumental piece, rocking out for a few minutes before Swanson counted to four, leading them into their next number.

“It’s all coming together now,” the bassist remarked after one of the songs off their Fact or Fiction? EP, “Radio Silence”. They were definitely in the groove now, as they kept pumping out one song after another, alternating between Swanson and Atchley handling the vocals, and even co-singing at times.

“This songs about,” Swanson said, pausing briefly to think, before giving a nod to a Fort Worth venue, “Spending all your money at The Boiled Owl.” They even joked about their merch at one point, saying they had “small circular things for sale” and that they wouldn’t mind if everyone bum rushed the table and just took whatever they wanted.

“Here’s one for all you hardcore kids,” Atchley said before one song. It was heavier from what they had done thus far, especially with the intro on the moog Thompson was responsible for.

Blank-men’s style of music was quite different from what I typically like, but by the time they finished, I was rather enjoying it. They play it very well, blending both the rock and electronic genres nicely.

You can find their EP on BANDCAMP; and see them live on November 4th at Three Links in Dallas.

People now headed over to the main stage, where another Fort Worth-based band — The Longshots — were about to get started.

They were the first of many bands this day whom I had seen previously, though they looked a little different. They were a four-piece now, something I had evidently missed, assuming the news was even shared on any of their social networks whenever it may have happened.

Nonetheless, I was looking forward to seeing them again.

The fact that they were down to two guitarists/singers now didn’t seem to inhibit them much, though they did focus on a different set of songs from what I recall from the other shows I had seen. “The Chase” got their 32-minute long set off to a good start, with some killer riffs, while the beats Brady Hamilton was dishing out were perfect to bang your head to, as Joey Gorman handled the singing.

Many of the bands this day used these stages to try out some new(er) material, and The Longshots were no exception. “…We appreciate being able to play on this stage with our friends…” Gorman said after singing another song. He then realized he didn’t want to exclude anyone, and extended that to include everyone who was playing on this field, saying, “we’re all homies.” Fellow singer and guitarist Alex Zobel now took the reins, as they did another cut from their self-titled debut they released earlier this year. “Back to the Rio Grande” showed off more of the bands garage rock sound; while the track that followed highlighted the harmonies both Gorman and Zobel are capable of, as the latter chimed in on each chorus.

One of the lines from that song was about “medicine”, leading Gorman to say afterwards that the song was about “the legal distribution of medical marijuana in America and their opposition towards it.” He said it so deadpan, you might have thought he was serious, though he was more being extremely sarcastic.

They debuted a brand new song to the people, a song that got off to a softer start, before getting more intense. Hamilton counted them into “Uppercut”, which boasted a sweet instrumental jam, complete with some nice riffs, with the drums and Kris Luthers’ bass also having their moments. The rhythm section then really got to shine on their final number, which had a heavy instrumental breakdown.

It was a really good set, though it was different from my past two Longshots experiences.

While they did have those raw rock numbers, they also had plenty of slower songs mixed in. Personally, I enjoyed those styles of songs, though it did make for an interesting mix. However, the biggest difference was how restrained they were.

These guys are usually jumping all around the stage, and while it would have been impossible this day, even jumping off it and mingling with the crowd while shredding. That same energy just wasn’t there this afternoon. I highly enjoyed hearing the music, but the show… Maybe it was just an off day for them.

If you want to check out The Longshots music (and you should), you can find it in iTUNES.

Scott Beggs (co-owner of the Dallas venue Three Links) was introducing all the bands this day, and before the next act on the smaller stage, he pointed out that all the bands had been handpicked by The Toadies, making this their own “personal playlist” of sorts.

The stage was then given up to Residual Kid, a trio who had made the short trip from Austin.

Their music was a mixture of grunge and punk, grunge in the fact that it had a dirtier sound to it, and punk in the way that some of their songs were just a couple minutes or so.

They managed to fit 10 songs into their 34-minute set, getting their first two done quickly, and bridging them together so seamlessly that it was fairly hard to tell they had started “Friend”. It was the lone track they did off their Faces EP, and was pretty catchy to boot.

“This one’s brand new,” stated singer and guitarist Deven Ivy before the group continued. “It’s not so chilly up here,” he mentioned afterwards, then tacked on, “with a jacket,” to that sentence. He, bassist Max Redman and drummer Ben Redman kept the blistering pace up with songs like “Names” and “Glue”, which were as short and to the point as the titles were. It was kind of nice, because they didn’t bother stretching the song(s) out, rather, just say what they wanted to and then finish it.

One song they did was about Sonic Youth, and during it, Ivy ran his axe along the top of his cabinet, creating some nice tones. Throughout the show he had mentioned who they were, and as their time on stage drew to a close, he joked, “We’re still Residual Kid.” Their final song had a heavy break down during it; and in its final moments, Max took his bass off and let it fall to the floor. He then flipped it over, with the strings now being visible, grabbed the mic stand he had occasionally used this day, propped his bass up at an angle, and then ran the whole stand up and down the neck. It’s was pretty rock ‘n’ roll.

I knew many of the bands on the festival this day, but Residual Kid was one that was new to me, and they proved to be a good surprise.

Of course, there are still bands that play some sort of punk or grunge rock out there, but it was good to see a younger band who knows the importance/significance of those styles and has incorporated it into their sound.

You can find their EP in iTUNES. As for shows, they have one coming up in Austin on September 23rd at The Palm Door.

It was later in the five-o’clock hour now, and the sun had not only made an appearance, but it was getting pretty warm at this point. That’s Texas for you. Still, at least it wasn’t unbearably hot.

The main stage now belonged to Somebody’s Darling, who just a few weeks before this had played a big CD release show for their new album, and those new songs were expected to be in full force this day.

In a switch up from how that CD release show went, though, they opted to get a couple of slightly older songs out of the way first.

Frontwoman and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris jumped around to the beats Nate Wedan was producing, as they built up to their first song. “Put your cold hands in my warm jacket. Keep ‘em there to we leave…” the singer than crooned, as they got “Cold Hands” underway. The roots rockers had their own little fan base out this evening, and they were happy to clap along once Farris began to do so. “Alright, here we go! Let’s do this!” she yelled as they amped the song back up; and lead guitarist David Ponder killed it with the closing guitar solo.

“We’re Somebody’s Darling and we’re happy to be here,” Farris stated over the mixed noise of the guitars, keys, bass and drums, which soon gave way to the other single spawned from Jank City Shakedown, “Wedding Clothes”. Both bassist Wade Cofer and pianist Mike Talley added their voices to the chorus of “Just waiting on my fever to break…”, which really strengthened it. Talley even stole the show for a moment when he quickly ran his fingers over the keyboard, starting at one end and going down to the other.

Before that second song, Farris also mentioned they were going to get warmed up. After that, I’d say they sufficiently were.

Now they got to their new stuff, tackling the lead track (and single) from Adult Roommates, “Bad, Bad”. “We’re excited to be on stage with The Toadies!” Farris remarked after they had finished that song. She encouraged everyone to get drunk for them, though added, “Stay sober enough.”

She cleaned up “Vowels Flow” for any and all young ears that may have been listening. “…While the girls at the mall rack the bills, while their daddy screws us all…” Farris belted on the first verse (you can use your imagination as to what word was changed and from what). It’s nearly impossible not to get into that feel good song; and after the second chorus, Farris tried to pull any stragglers in, yelling, “Alright, Fort Worth. Let’s go! Come on,”

The stirring “Come to Realize” brought the mood down slightly, though the song about the demise of a relationship and pondering what caused it was a highlight of their set (and I’m not just saying that because I’m incredibly partial to it). It really did result in an amazing moment. “Let’s do this!” Farris said aloud, before Wedan hammered out the beats for “Set it Up”, which was another one that had Ponder doing an excellent solo.

Off to the side of the stage, there were some booths set up, and one of them had a giant moustache in front of it. The funny thing was it was seesaw; and before going any further, Farris pointed it out, along with the people who were currently on it. “Everyone needs a good seesaw now and then,” she laughed, before they busted out the second single from their new record, “Generator”, which had a handful of people (just that I could see) singing along to it.

That was a sign that their 37-minute long set was nearly over, but they still had a little something left to give.

“We’re gonna slow it down now that you got all rowdied up,” said Farris, who now had an acoustic guitar in her hands. They jumped to the final two songs on the album; and “Smoke Blows” isn’t quite as slow as it was made out to be. Neither was “Keep This Up”, which again utilized the three-part harmonies between Cofer, Talley and Farris, and proved a good one to end with.

The energy from the crowd may have been vastly different from the near capacity show they played a few weeks back, but the bands energy was every bit as vibrant as ever.

That’s not to say the audience wasn’t into it, either, but the band wasn’t able to get all the sing alongs going like they can at their usual shows, where they’re the main act.

Since they didn’t have much time, they had to keep a fast pace, and pretty much launched one song after the other at the onlookers.

Basically, Somebody’s Darling was responsible for what was one of the best sets of the day.

They’ll be at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands on October 9th, and then have a couple of short tours planned later in the month, where they’ll hit Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. They’ll also be playing Charlie’s Backyard Bar in Marshall, TX on November 7th and Lee Harvey’s in Dallas on November 8th. Full info on all their shows can be found HERE. Don’t forget to check out their albums in iTUNES, either.

The massive field that is Panther Island was really starting to fill up now, as more and more people arrived, and several of them seemed excited to see The Quaker City Night Hawks.

“Good evening Fort Worth, Texas…” Sam Anderson sang in his rich tone, as the roots rock outfit got started. It wasn’t just a welcoming, but also the first line of their first song. The first of many new songs they did this evening, and it had been perfectly designed to be the opener, with the first few lines quite fitting of the day. Bassist Pat Adams and drummer Matt Mabe were responsible for a pretty heavy rhythm section on that song, as well; and you could already tell Mabe was thoroughly enjoying being up there, as he was giving it 110%.

“What’s up, Fort Worth?” Anderson asked, during a momentary pause before they fired up their next song. “That’s a new one,” he informed the onlookers when they had finished. “We’re glad to be here,” the singer and rhythm guitarist told everyone after another jam, before commenting on the weather. “Thank you… whoever is responsible for that,” he said, prompting one guy in the crowd to shout that he was the one behind the cooler, cloudy day. “That guy!” Anderson exclaimed and pointed, telling the crowd they should buy that man a beer.

Sans some backing vocals, David Matsler had been rather quite so far. However, he now took over on the singing duties, as they did “Fox in the Hen House”. It was the only old jam they did this night, and you could tell who was a fan of the band, because some people got quite excited when they began it. The best part was the harmonies. Everyone except keyboardist Andrew Skates sang on the chorus, “…‘Cause the fox is in the hen house now.” That number came to a mighty finish, due largely to the drums.

“We’re gonna play some new stuff for ya,” Anderson announced, before Matsler went back to singing. The percussion was so heavy on it that Mabe lost his beer because of it. “My whole beer just spilt cause of the vibrations,” he told his band mates in a very disappointed tone. He shook it off, and they got to another new song. One so new, it had never been played live before.

“Back in the winter of fifty-three, the mean ol’ devil had it out for me…” Anderson sang at the start of that dark, but engrossing track, which again had Adams, Matsler and Mabe providing some harmonies. A couple more followed, and once it was all said and done, Anderson thanked everyone who had paid attention.

“We are Quaker City Night Hawks, and we love you,” he told everyone.

Their 34-minute long set went by too fast, and if they had been able to play longer, I don’t think anyone would have had a problem with it.

This was my third time seeing these guys, and quite honestly, I think it was the best. Even topping the hour long or so set I saw them do last year, when I first caught them live.

Quaker City Night Hawks are as solid as they come, and it’s far too easy to see why they have not only became a favorite of many here in North Texas, but also established themselves as a heavyweight in the music scene.

They’re different from a lot of bands out there. Different doesn’t necessarily mean new, but they’ve found a style that they excel at and can pull off exceptionally well. They’re definitely one to keep an eye on, as they may be the next big thing to come out of the D/FW area. The potential is certainly there.

They have a gig in Roswell, New Mexico on September 19th, and then one in Amarillo, Texas at Hoots the following night. On October 24th, they’ll be marking their 5th anniversary as a band with a show in Fort Worth; and then on Halloween night you can catch them at Granada Theater in Dallas. As for albums, they have a few in iTUNES.

Next up on the schedule was something that was a real treat to the festival goers, and one band I was excited to see: Pleasant Grove.

It was only earlier this year when I first heard of them, when they performed a reunion show, which was anticipated by many. From what I later learned, the band was part of the old guard of the North Texas music scene, going back to the late 90’s, before breaking up in the mid-2000’s. Luckily for the scene, they haven’t stayed dead, and are now beginning a renaissance.

Just like many of the other bands on the bill, Pleasant Grove played a lot of newer songs they’ve cooked up.

Marcus Striplin and Bret Egner (both of whom were also the guitarists) traded off on singing during their set, with the former taking the first song, and the latter the second.

That second song also had Chris Mayes moving to the lap steel guitar that was attached to his pedal steel. Those instruments fit (and helped make) their sound, which was often melancholy, though never quite depressing.

“Thanks y’all. What’s up?” Striplin asked upon finishing those songs, before doing another that featured some duel singing from the vocalists. “The sunset’s beautiful,” Striplin then remarked. Indeed, it was. They had gotten a good time slot this day, and while a glare from one of the buildings way off in the distance had been reflecting back at them for part of the show, the sun had set enough now that it wasn’t too bad.

“Only a Mountain” was one of their classics they did this day, coming from The Art of Leaving LP, and to me, it was one of the most striking songs of their set.

Their 35-minute long set allowed them a few more, including another brand new song, titled “Pleasing You”. “…When you have the first laugh, then you can have the last dance, baby,” Striplin sang early on in it, with the rest of the song being just as creative and interesting.

He wished the crowd a “happy Dia!” after they finished, then sent everyone on their way.

These guys, which included bassist Tony Hormilosa and drummer Jeff Ryan, were another standout act of the day.

Of course, everything they did was new to me anyway, though the very little old stuff they did play still holds up nicely, and the new songs were every bit as good. Honestly, you have to wonder why these guys never “made it” and broke out on a national level back during original time together, especially considering that happened to several Dallas bands during that time. Perhaps they were just a little ahead of their time, especially with all the craze that currently surrounds genres that incorporate some folk elements to them.

However, the thing I liked most about Pleasant Grove wasn’t the music, but the lyrics. Every song was deep and highly emotional, two qualities you don’t always see together, though they make a potent mix.

If you want to stay in the loop about shows, keep an eye on their FACEBOOK PAGE. They also have a couple of albums you can purchase in iTUNES.

The job of closing out the second stage went to Ume, who became the first band ever to play Dia for a second time.

“Hey, Fort Worth! We’re Ume,” singer and guitarist Lauren Larson told the crowd in a warm, friendly tone once they stepped on stage. That was about the extent of talking she did this night, though, as they focused primarily on their music in the 36-minutes they had.

“The Conductor” started their set, and right from the start, Lauren began demonstrating what a superb guitarist she is, taking the axe at one point and raising it up and behind her, where just the guitars neck was behind her neck, while she continued to shred away on it.

They threw in a couple of older songs, but mostly, they focused on Monuments, which was released earlier this year; and now drummer Aaron Perez established the steady beat that begins “Too Big World”, while Eric Larson hung back more at first, before really getting into it on the chorus. She used the instrumental break to kneel down and shred on her axe; and once she stood back up, she did a little backbend, before twirling in circles right at the tail end.

They wound it straight into “Burst”, which saw the fiery guitarist pumping her fist in the air, almost as a call to action to the onlookers, before striking the body of her guitar. After some brief silence, the trio suddenly erupted into “Embrace”, which kicked things up several notches; and afterwards, they delved more into their shoe gazey style of rock with “Hurricane II”, which is often as mesmerizing as it is raw. She again sank to her knees at one point on that track, holding her guitar vertically as she viciously picked at the strings.

While Eric and Lauren tuned, Perez started up the drum roll that begins “Oh, Fate”, a song that gradually builds, before striking with a fury. They had pretty much every set of eyes glued to them by now, and “Until The End” and “Chase It Down” further ensured that no one could turn away.

After that, Lauren took a moment to thank The Toadies for having them out, saying they were one of the first bands who ever gave them a chance, so you got the feeling that they [Ume] have immense respect for them.

They were almost done, and now reached back to 2005’s Urgent Sea and pulled out “Baby Xie-Xie”. It’s a beast of a song, especially live, with Lauren kicking the air at times, as she coordinated all of her moves perfectly with the music. The song also contained what was the best moment of their set, and it came when she fell onto her back, letting her guitar slide onto the stage beside her, before rolling somewhat on top of it, never missing a note.

All that was left now was their single, “Black Stone”, which delivered one last quick punch to the ears of the onlookers.

I’ve seen Ume half a dozen times now, and this was the best show I’ve seen them do.

Since releasing Monuments, they’ve been pretty busy making the most of the traction they started going with that single that has come from it, and all their time on the road has led to an incredible tightness. Even Perez, who has only been with the band a few months, looks like he has been a part of the outfit since the start.

The energy they pack into their shows is crazy, while their stage presence this night captivated many. Next to all that, the thing I enjoyed the most was that the vocal levels were turned up higher than normal, making every word crystal clear.

Ume’s next show will be in Houston at Fitzgerald’s on October 24th. Be sure to check out all their albums in iTUNES, too.

The main support band was one that has been around almost as long as The Toadies have, and in Texas (especially D/FW), they’re every bit as much of a staple. I’m speaking, of course, of Old 97’s.

I’m probably one of the few people left who had never seen Old 97’s before, and I was looking forward to that finally changing.

The band was all smiles as they were introduced, and then quickly got to work, coming out swinging with the upbeat and catchy “If My Heart was a Car”, off their debut, Hitchhike to Rhome. It was immediately clear they had their own fans out this night, as many sang along with singer and acoustic guitarist Rhett Miller.

“Barrier Reef” came next, and they didn’t allow any downtime between the songs. Instead, they just kept pushing themselves, with Miller putting on quite a show, even though he was often stuck behind the microphone, while lead guitarist Ken Bethea — who wore a poncho for these first few songs — raced about the stage. I was also quite impressed with the slick moves Murry Hammond worked in to his bass playing.

Two songs in and I was already questioning myself in how and why I had never seen these guys before.

“How y’all doing tonight?” the friendly Miller asked, adding that it was a beautiful night, while some mangled guitar chords set up their next number. It was “Dance with Me”, and the semi-dark song had a real sense of urgency to it. Before hitting the second verse, Miller proceeded to jump around some. He clearly had a lot of energy pent up, and he still had plenty of time to work on getting it all out.

As they stopped, the vocalist made everyone aware that it had also been twenty years since they released their debut record, at a time when he was roommates with Clark Vogeler, who later went on to become The Toadies lead guitarist. “That was a lot of fucking years ago,” he said rather simply, before their attention shifted to the recently released album, Most Messed Up, doing the lead track, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”. The song that somewhat chronicles their adventures over the last couple decades seemed to come at just the right time in the show, helping set the stage for the rest of their set.

“Cheers!” Hammond yelled afterwards, though he raised a bottle of water to the sky, an action that caught a little flak from some of the patrons, who wondered where his beer was. He paid them no mind, though. “I was born here. Grew up in the sticks out that way,” he said, pointing towards the general direction. He let everyone know the only reason he every even got to Dallas was to see a Dead Kennedys show, and then thought to himself, “I’ll stay here and do this.” It worked out for him.

He now took over on the reins, singing the very country sounding “West Texas Teardrops”, which was followed by what Miller called a “straight up love song”. “It’s called Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On!” he announced. It may have been another new song, but it was one fans have apparently quickly taken to, as many threw their fists into the air at the chorus, shouting along, “Let’s drink whiskey and do it all night long! Let’s get drunk and get it on!

Drummer Philip Peeples got a shout-out from his band mates as he got the next song going, which happened to be “Four Leaf Clover”. The very Western sounding track saw both Bethea and Miller leaping into the air when they could, with Bethea eventually making his way over to stage left, where he and Hammond worked off one another as they picked away at their instruments. They then returned to their debut record, doing a slightly more intense version of “Stoned”.

“What a great night!” Miller said excitedly, later on mentioning how pumped up he was to see The Toadies, and that he made sure to bring his ear plugs just so he could stand right in front of the speakers for them. They weren’t quite done with their new record yet, and now did “This is the Ballad”, which was quite deep. “A State of Texas” appealed to everyone’s Texas pride (at least I know it did mine); and Miller flat-out killed it on his acoustic for that one.

“This is off the new one,” Hammond simply said, before singing another tune, this one being “The Ex of All You See”, which was one of the most infectious things they did this night (and that’s saying a lot). Miller chatted with the audience for a bit, again thanking them, before doing another oldie, “Big Brown Eyes”, which was instantly followed by “Nashville”, a song that had some laughing as he (with the help of Hammond at times) sang the opening line, “I married Caroline back in May of ’99. It was fucked up at the time, but I figured we’d keep trying…” It was far from a humorous song, though, and is instead a reflective number about trying to figure out why nothing ever works out.

Upon finishing “Rollerskate Skinny”, Miller climbed atop his amp, stretching his arms towards the sky. You could tell they were building to something. He then got some serious air when he jumped; while they ripped into the final song of their 54-minute long set, “Time Bomb”.

The song about infatuation brought their performance to a roaring finish, with Miller waving goodbye and exiting the stage once it was done, while the rest of Old 97’s threw some picks at the crowd, before doing the same.

Seriously, how have I been a fan and avid supporter of the D/FW music scene for nearly a decade, but never seen Old 97’s before? I don’t know how I screwed up so badly.

I thought their performance was extraordinary, to the point they almost, almost unintentionally stole some of the thunder away from The Toadies.

From start to finish, their set was explosive, as they tackled a variety of songs, some of which almost sounded like a cross between country and rock (and at times even punk), while others more fit the lines of your typical (and true) country songs.

They’ll be on the road from the end of September through mid-October, and their tour dates can be found HERE. You can sample all of their albums in iTUNES (and I know I will soon start adding them to my collection.)

The day had been long, but with nonstop music, it passed quick; and now, it was finally time for the band of the hour: The Toadies.

After being on the road in support of the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck for much of the last five to six months or so, this was going to be the final gig of the tour. For me, this show was also going to complete a trifecta. I had seen their Dallas stop of the tour back in May, and in July I made the jaunt up to Denton, when they kicked off another leg of the tour. And now, I was excited to hear Rubberneck front to back once more, and for perhaps the final time ever.

It was 9:53 when Doni Blair, Vaden Todd Lewis, Mark Reznicek and Clark Vogeler walked onto the stage, waving and smiling at the fans. Most had gathered around the stage for a good view of everything, while others watched from a distance, relaxing in lawn chairs or just sitting on the grass.

Lewis approached the edge of the stage, still grinning at the fans, before starting them off on “Mexican Hairless”. The instrumental jam sent fans jumping about and cheering, while others banged their heads along to the aggressive piece. Right as it ended, Vogeler launched them into “Mister Love”. “Are you gonna save me? Can you save me?” Lewis growled in a raw, gravelly tone throughout the track. His voice sounded even more striking (and at times even terrifying) than at either of the other shows I had seen this year, making it clear that this performance of the album was going to be a cut above the rest. On top of that, the singer was constantly making different gestures with his hands or waving his fingers around; and at the final, “Can you save me?”, he stretched his arms out to the side, almost like he was basking in the love from the fans.

While they were busy playing the music, several beach balls had been tossed out in the crowd, which may be stereotypical of festivals, but all the same was fun, as people kept batting them away whenever they got close.

The band wound it right into “Backslider”; and as excited as fans were to hear that rocking number, it paled in comparison to the reaction “Possum Kingdom” got, which was not just screams and yells, but also people turning towards their friends and high fiving them. It was pure ecstasy for everyone as they sang right along, “And I promise you, I will treat you well. My sweet angel, so help me, Jesus.”

The string of beloved songs just kept coming, with “Quitter” sounding even angrier than normal as Lewis spit out the lyrics; and the hefty rhythm section of Reznicek and Blair continued to show their teeth during “Away”, which ended with Vogeler rocking out by his amp, getting the guitar tones as good as they could possibly be.

As Lewis has said at the past shows, he doesn’t like to speak during this portion of the set, as he wants to keep this live experience of Rubberneck as authentic as possible. That also extends to the usual sing along parts in the songs, like “Away”, which instead was handled completely by the band. However, one song where they couldn’t get away with that was “I Come From the Water”. Everyone knew the drill and didn’t even have to be told what to do as they hit the chorus, and the throng of fans shouted at the top of their lungs. It creates a moment that’s quite bonding for Toadies fans.

The most interesting part of the night came during “Tyler”, which was memorable to say the least. Shortly after singing, “I stumble in the hallway,” The Toadies blew out the speakers. The look of confusion on the faces of the band members as well as the crowd was hilarious in hindsight, as everyone was left scratching their head and looking around for a second, like, “Wait. What just happened?” Even without the amps, you could still somewhat hear the bass, drums and guitars, and the band went on playing, though they looked unsure. That was when fans showed their mettle. It was like instinct, everyone knew what to do, as they began singing the final noises from the tune, “Yeah-eh-a. Oh-oh-oh…”. It was far more audible than any of the instruments, and it was concrete proof of not only people’s love of these songs, but also their love for this band.

“I think we broke it,” Lewis said after they got it fixed, which happened as soon as the song ended. For the record, having the speakers blow is how you know you’ve seen a killer concert; and they were still just getting warmed up.

They got back on track, racing through the final three songs, as Reznicek bridged them from “Happy Face” into “Velvet”, and they only stopped long enough for Lewis to get a twelve-string acoustic guitar, before concluding the Rubberneck set with “I Burn”. “Sift the ashes for reminders; stony things remain,” Lewis sang, using his bullet mic for a couple of lines, as he placed his left palm into the air, before clenching his fist.

38-minutes was how long it took this night to run through those eleven songs, and they were far from done.

“That was the Rubberneck set,” remarked Lewis, also mentioning how “fucking crazy” it was that it has been twenty years. He was equally amazed by the fact that Dia de los Toadies was now in its seventh year. “This is the most fun one I think we’ve had yet,” he said of the festival, before saying if everybody was down, they’d do some more songs.

“Push the Hand” got the remainder of their 64-minute long set going, and it seemed to reinvigorate the crowd, as well as the mosh-pit, which was small, but had been going on throughout the show. During the last brief instrumental break, Blair and Lewis walked towards one another, interacting a bit as they jammed. The subsequent track from Hell Below/Stars Above, “Little Sin”, came next, though they axed the extended outro they often give the song. Instead, they jumped right into “No Deliverance”, which I thought sounded even better than normal this night. For example, there was something about the line, “I saw black monsters twisted in love,” and the way Lewis sang it that was just quite gripping this night.

“Are we still having fun?” he asked afterwards, a question that was answered by a resounding amount of cheers. They took time out to thank all the bands who had played, including the Old 97’s, who Vogeler joked would surely be going somewhere.

Blair then switched to a different bass before starting them on “Summer of the Strange” — one of the only new songs they did this night. Not that anyone had a problem with that. “…This is our indulgent three and a half minutes, bear with us,” cracked Lewis before they busted out their rendition of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, a song that they quite possibly played for the final time this night.

“Oh, shit! I’ve got to start this one,” Lewis said, sounding a little apprehensive. He bought himself some time by telling everyone that several years ago he had written a song that he was now regretting writing. “It’s the most difficult song I’ve ever written,” he stated, leading everyone to wonder what it could be. I was racking my brain trying to figure it out, and I doubt I was alone.

I was not expecting “Hell Below/Stars Above” — a song I had only heard live once, nearly five years ago — but that was what they did. It made for a truly surprising moment, catching every single fan off guard; and the best part came at the end, where one of their techs added his voice to the mix. He could sing, and it helped make that gospel-like ending more like how it sounds on the recording. The thing I like most about that title track from their sophomore album is how it changes midway though, yet it still sounds like the same song. As Lewis said, it’s a difficult song, but it’s also a beautiful one, and it capped off this main set fantastically.

They were gone all of a couple minutes, before the noise from fans brought them back out. “Do y’all want some more songs?” Lewis asked, acting as though he was shocked. “We’ll play some more songs,” he added, before they broke into the primal, “Sweetness”, which was another track that had the singer making different motions with his hand at times as he sang.

They had another cover planned, and Lewis went back twenty years, mentioning that some of the songs from the original Rubberneck recording session had been cut. One of those was a cover of Pylon’s “Stop it”, and for that one, Lauren Larson of Ume joined them, tearing it up on her axe. The fans and the band were really digging that one. For starters, each time Lewis began clapping along, the fans did, too; and on the second chorus, Vogeler began jumping around.

“You guys tired?” Lewis then asked, a question that was met with a forceful, “NO!” The band then returned to their second album, performing the final track from it, “Doll Skin”. It had sounded great acoustic the night before, but there’s something about the electric version. It’s not exactly an all-out rock number, nor is that soft. Still, out of everything they had done, it’s not what you would think would be a perfect crowd surfing song, yet that was exactly what one man did, as he had his friends hoist him in the air.

“You’ve been fantastic. Thank you so much,” Lewis told the attendees, before extending that to cover their crew who put this on and everyone who had any part of it. “I’m from Fort Worth, I’m a big fan of Fort Worth, and this is all fucking Fort Worth right here,” he finished, before saying they would be leaving everyone with this. “This” was “Rattler’s Revival”. Fans again clapped along whenever they saw the frontman doing it; and really, what a fitting song to end their 19-minute long encore with. Not just because it’s a hard-hitting number, but because it’s one of the newest things in their catalog, and after spending most of 2014 on the road, focusing on their twenty-year-old debut, why not look ahead to the future, and hopefully, another twenty years, or even more.

I was thinking about it this day and Dia was the eighth festival I’ve seen/covered this year.

I’ve really come to enjoy the festival atmosphere; but as fun as all of those others have been, there’s one thing that’s different about Dia de los Toadies, and that’s what made me enjoy it not only more than those other festivals, but also more than ever: it’s because everybody there has an undying love for The Toadies.

It’s really cool to go to something like this and know that the common denominator is that everyone enjoys the same band. It breeds a real sense of camaraderie, and that is a special feeling.

So, kudos to The Toadies for giving their fans something like this to congregate at once a year. Here’s to hoping it continues for many more to come.

As for their set itself, it was solid as ever. This is a band that has a real staying power, even more than twenty years into it, and that was clear once more this night in Fort Worth.

They do have a few more shows this year. One will be in Houston at the Untapped Fest on September 20th. Another will be in Pharr, Texas at the Pharr Events Center on October 19th, with an Austin date at Emo’s on December 26th. Let’s not forget about Dia de los Toadies 8, which should be happening in September 2015. As for their albums, the remastered version of Rubberneck can be purchased at KIRTLAND RECORDS, while everything else can be found at iTUNES.

(Read my review of night 1 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Friday, September 12th, 2014 – The 7th Annual Dia de los Toadies: Night I – An (Almost) Acoustic Party at The Shack

Another September can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual Dia de los Toadies.

This was the seventh one the iconic Fort Worth band The Toadies had put together (well, them and their team at Kirtland Records), and it seemed to further prove that seven is the bands lucky number.

Seven years from the release of Rubberneck to Hell Below/Stars Above; seven years from their breakup to their revival; an now, the seventh year of Dia just so happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Rubberneck. It is a bit of a strange coincidence if nothing else.

For the second year in a row, Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth was hosting the festival; and originally, this first night of it was supposed to take place outside. Leave it to Texas to have freak weather, though. A cold front had moved in the night before, dropping temperatures into the 70’s (when it’s usually 90 something, yeah, that’s cold), while rain and mist made the conditions even less pleasant. So, rather last minute, the show was moved indoors to a building called The Shack, which sits in the main parking lot of Panther Island Pavilion.

It was a large warehouse/hanger, giving it quite an industrial feel, which somehow, just seemed to fit the bands.

It has become tradition that the first night of this now weekend long festival is an acoustic one, or as they call it, almost acoustic. I actually witnessed it the first year it was ever attempted, back at the 5th annual Dia down in New Braunfels; and after skipping the acoustic night the previous year, I was looking forward to hearing the reworked songs again.

Kicking off the night was the Denton-based singer/songwriter Doug Burr, whom I had not seen in probably a couple years, and I was looking forward to finally having another opportunity at seeing him.

Most of Doug Burr’s set consisted of new songs, though he did throw in a couple of oldies for everybody. “Red, Red” was one of those, coming from the already four-year-old album, O Ye Devastator. Burr wasn’t alone, and he was joined by a fellow guitarist, Dave; while Burr was seated, allowing him to add some percussion via a small kick drum.

The thing I enjoy most about his music is the fact that it tells stories, much like the way, say, Bruce Springsteen does (though the style of writing is the only comparison that could be made between those two artists.) That was shown on every track he played this night, with the beginning line from one going, “There was blood in our tracks, all covered in snow…” Whatever the title of that one may have been, it was actually one of my favorites, thanks largely to notes Dave threw in. He was quiet on his guitar at times, but struck at just the right moments to really accent the song, making for some great underlying notes.

They ditched the acoustic mood with “I Got This Fever/O Ye Devastator”. It may not have been true to the electric form of the recorded version, but their acoustics got pretty loud, while Burr kept his foot busy with that pedal for the small kick drum, giving the song some roaring percussion.

“Dave and I spent all day fixing this place up, didn’t we Dave?” Burr joked afterwards, saying they had been the ones responsible for getting everything set up after the team decided to move the show indoors. The duo then did another song, and upon finishing it, Burr informed everyone they had spent this last year working on a new record. “It’s alright,” he said, sounding almost completely indifferent. “We’re proud of it. The record, not the year,” he added, a joke which was either said so dryly people didn’t get it, or they just didn’t think it was too funny. I, however, thought it was pretty good. He let the audience know they were from the “good ol’ state of Denton, Texas,” and then they unleashed another new track on the people’s ears.

Not only was the song loud, but Burr sang it at a near machine-gun pace, prompting Dave to tell him afterwards that, that “wasn’t very acoustic.” “We’re keeping it almost acoustic, just like the rules say,” the singer quipped, before they ended their 30-minute long set with a couple more new tunes.

From the first time I saw him, I was a fan of Doug Burr, continuing to catch him whenever I was able; but lately, it doesn’t seem like he’s played too much. That said, having gone so long without seeing a performance, I had forgotten what an astounding singer/songwriter he is. Really, he’s one of the most talented here in the D/FW area.

He proved it quick this night, and with each passing song, he further established that is fact.

He has a remarkable voice; prominently displayed his storytelling chops this night; and even showed off some pretty good wit.

His next show will be on October 3rd at Three Links in Dallas. Also, head over to iTUNES where you can find his records; and according to what he said this night, he’ll finally have a new release out in January.

With Old 97’s providing direct support the following night, The Toadies had tapped Rhett Miller to do a solo set on this acoustic show, and I was interested in seeing him. See, not only had I never seen him solo before, I had never seen him live at all; and after all the good words about he and Old 97’s, I was expecting something special.

Sure enough, Miller delivered.

His 35-minute long set had two parts to it, and the first were all songs that belonged either to him or Old 97’s. After mentioning this venue was a “good plan B” for The Toadies to use, he launched into one of a few tales of heartache this night, “Lost Without You”. “…She was not like the rest, until she left…” he sang, filling that line (and several others) with loads of emotion this night.

It got his set off to a good start; and then, he began to reminisce. Miller mentioned he had known The Toadies for a while, especially “the guitar player”, “Who’s going to be playing keys tonight,” he stated. He was referring to Clark Vogeler, who used to be in a band called Fun Land. Miller said as much, and even though that was long time before I was introduced to the local scene, I have of course heard lore of Fun Land. However, I did not know they went by the name Melt before adopting that other moniker. Miller pointed that out and said he enjoyed the band so much back then, he wrote a song about them. Aptly, the song was titled “Melt Show”, and it was on it he began showing off his more rock and even punk side. The fast paced tune allowed him to bang his head around; and he did the ol’ standard windmill move to pluck at his guitar, executing it so fluidly and effortlessly, you just had to marvel at it.

He wound things right in to “Wasted”, which was one of a few songs he did this night that revolved around getting drunk. Even though the only instrument was his acoustic guitar, Miller managed to make the song incredibly catchy; while the opening line of “I’m gonna play guitar till my fingers fall off, sing till my voice is gone…” already seemed fitting of his behavior this night.

“It’s true,” he laughed, speaking of the line, “Tonight, I’m gonna get wasted with you.” That may have happened later, but for now, he was all about the music. “Come Around” was another track he did from his solo career, bringing things back down, and highlighting his falsetto tone on that lovely track. He was in the zone now, hitting these next few tracks one right after the other. “Won’t be Home” came next, and it further enlivened the crowd, while the cheery and infectious “Singular Girl” pulled everyone more into it.

“Woo!” Miller exclaimed upon finishing it, thanking everyone for watching him, and also saying he had heard The Toadies sound check, and that people were in for a treat. “…Tomorrow night I’ll be here with Old 97’s,” he mentioned, but then stated it felt good to be here by himself this night. That said, the concluded his original portion with “Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On”, a song that was rowdy even done solo, and a lot of spectators seemed to look at it as an anthem, cheering at each chorus.

People were left wondering what was coming next, especially since Miller had laid his acoustic guitar down now. Clark Vogeler then stepped on stage, took a seat behind the keyboard, and spoke into his microphone asking if it was live. Yeah, it definitely was, and suddenly and unexpectedly hearing his voice caused some people to jump a bit.

Miller mentioned that when he found out he’d be playing this event, he and Vogeler immediately started “hatching plans” as to how they could collaborate. They decided on this, having Vogeler play his keys, while Miller said he was just going to stand there and sing. “Which is terrifying,” he confessed in a moment of pure honesty. If he truly did feel that way, he didn’t show it this night, and after informing the crowd that some “sad, beautiful shit” was about to happen, they started tackling a series of covers.

The first was a moving rendition of Elvis Costellos’ “Almost Blue”, a song that seemed perfect for Miller to cover, as its vibe went with many of the other songs he had done. He now looked to the past, telling everyone that he and Vogeler used to be roommates “for years and years”. “He taught me all the good music I know,” Miller admitted, saying that included Elliot Smith. The duo covered “Baby Britain”, with Miller laughing afterwards that they should take this to LA and “play one of those dark bars”. “The Dresden,” Vogeler recommended, with Miller joking they’d need to get some sports coats before doing it.

Miller then regaled everyone with another story of when the two were roommates. “He didn’t know how to play piano back then,” Miller said of Vogeler, and he really did seem impressed by his friend’s abilities on the keys. “He barely knew how to play guitar then, too,” cracked Miller. A sweeter song they did this night was “This Will be Our Year” by The Zombies, a song Miller later mentioned was not easy to play on the piano, and that Vogeler deserved some props for it.

“Thanks for bearing with this crazy experiment,” he finished, as they rounded things out with David Bowies’ “Changes”. “Ch-ch-ch-ch changes, turn and face the strange…” Miller belted on the chorus, injecting some punk elements into the song by his manner of singing, which sounded a bit mismatched considering the keys, yet it went together.

Rhett Miller was highly entertaining from start to finish. The singer lived up to all the praise I have heard surround him, and actually, he was far better than I even thought he’d be.

He had no trouble owning the stage completely, even up there all by himself. He was a ball of raw energy; and while he may have been tied to the mic stand this night, he never let that hinder him.

He has some tour dates coming up, scattered across the country and spread out over the next few months. You can find a full list HERE. As for his solo records, you can purchase them in iTUNES.

The crowd was fairly thick as The Toadies start time neared, and I’d guess there were at least around a couple hundred people in the impromptu venue, most of whom were packed in, in front of the stage. They had waited long enough, and after a sound check had been done, the room started to fill with screams and chants, as people hoped to make the band appear.

And they did.

“We having fun yet?” Vaden Todd Lewis asked after sitting down on his stool. “I’ve been having fun,” he added, before officially welcoming the attendees to the seventh annual Dia de los Toadies. He sounded skeptical when remarking, “We’ll see how this goes,” and then they were off.

The music bed for “Backslider” was largely the same, and people knew it almost instantly and often sang louder than the band was. Just further proof that those songs from Rubberneck are still what fans enjoy the most. While it may have been similar, there were still some changes to the track, and it was quite restrained over the version people know by heart. Part of that was due to Clark Vogeler, who was on the piano all night, and on this song, it had a very old timey, almost ragtime style.

Those iconic songs were peppered sparingly across their setlist; and now, Lewis switched from his six-string guitar to a twelve. Mark Reznicek had his full drum kit in front of him, and he began the next song with some beats that sounded like it went with “Magic Bullet”, and sure enough, it did. Considering how thick the song is, it wasn’t one I was expecting acoustic, though the retooled rendition of the song was still quite heavy.

“Pretty great, huh?” Lewis remarked, while Doni Blair swapped out his electric bass for an upright one, a sight I had never seen before, nor ever thought I’d see. The intro for the next song was weird, which made it unrecognizable. It wasn’t until Lewis sang the first line, “I come from the water, I crawled up on the shore,” that the fans roared, and started to sing right along with “I Come From the Water”, and once more their collective voice was often louder than the bands. Lewis snapped his fingers while singing the second chorus; and during the instrumental break, the keys were again very prevalent.

That finished getting everyone warmed up on this chillier night, and the noise that followed that fan favorite was deafening. They switched gears after that, however. “…This is a new piece that’s intended to bum you the fuck out,” Lewis stated. If that was indeed their mission, than “The Appeal” certainly accomplished it. The final track from 2012’s Play.Rock.Music is one of the most powerful ones the band has ever produced (emotionally speaking), as was clear right from the start, with the line, “I wish I could tell you the way that I feel. I know that I failed you, so I make my appeal…” It’s soaked in both desperation and sadness; and for the most part, the crowd just looked on and watched, while others chatted with friends, since very few people seemed to know the lyrics. Then they got to the final verse, and Lewis, who had been pretty gentle so far, kicked it into overdrive, and belted out that last portion with a fiery passion. It was easily the most powerful moment of this set.

The electric bass and twelve-string guitar were both back in play now as they continued to keep fans on their toes. “We’re gonna play a Blondie song now,” Lewis informed everyone. “You think I’m fucking you, but we’re gonna do a Blondie song,” he added, stressing this wasn’t a joke. If you had seen them at all this year, then you knew he wasn’t kidding, because they’ve made “Heart of Glass” into a staple during this 20th Anniversary Rubberneck Tour. The acoustic setting was actually pretty behooving of it; while next up was a song that I hoped, though seriously doubted would be done acoustic.

“There it is!” a guy shouted as Lewis went back to the mandolin. He proceeded to pluck the strings of it, making a very interesting chord progression. “Is this Rattler’s?” I thought to myself. Sure enough, they had created an alternate version to the single from their 2012 release. “Rattler’s Revival” was entrancing to say the least, and it sounded more like what either traditional Middle Eastern music or even Indian music sounds like, being more of a cross between the two. The music bed wasn’t the only thing that had undergone a massive change, though. The words on the usually venomous song were more spoken rather than sung, which helped in creating an eerie feeling as Lewis spoke of being void of emotion, just like a snake. That pace continued right up to the end, when Reznicek repeatedly tapped one of the cymbals, which made it just a little creepier.

“It’s going pretty good,” Vogeler remarked afterwards, sounding somewhat surprised. Lewis then thanked their “wonderful, fantabulous crew”, calling out Dwayne and Wes by name. Those two crew members/techs had already been doing a lot this night, adding different instruments to the mix, even if it was something as simple as a shaker.

He went on to drop word of their next album, saying they had been having so much fun with this first night of Dia over the past few years that they decided to make a record in this vein. “…It’s even weirder than this shit,” he remarked. So, Toadies fans have that to look forward to in 2015.

They kept working away on that latest album with “Beside You”, and while it was more rock based — roaring to life on each chorus — they also put a fun twist on it, in the form of Dwayne adding a banjo into the mix. It folkified the song a bit. Next came a very special treat for all those who had decided to venture out here, even if the weather may have been better suited for staying at home: they got to hear a new song for the first time ever. I had trouble understanding the title, though I think it was “Belly of the Whale” (a line which was repeated here and there in the song). It was a super catchy song. Honestly, probably one of the most infectious things these guys have ever cranked out. “…I tried to sink my demons in the deep, so catch me if you can,” Lewis sang at a couple points during the track, a line that guaranteed it fit The Toadies mold.

“We’ve literally never played that before,” Vogeler pointed out, before they started joking that they had just made that all up on the spot. “Doni improvised it,” Vogeler said, while the bassist went with it and shook his head, like, “Yeah, I did.”

An acoustic show would not be complete without “Doll Skin”; a track I hadn’t heard in a couple years. The bass was dominant throughout, giving it a real punch, while the keys also had some time to shine, which balanced it all out.

“You may or may not know this is the twentieth anniversary of Rubberneck,” Lewis remarked afterwards, mentioning how “crazy” that was, and expressing his gratitude to everyone for coming out, not just this night, but over all the years. Fans were delighted to hear the song that became the bands breakout hit — “Possum Kingdom” — which sounded more or less the same, even with the addition of the banjo. The keys were quite prominent on it, too; and the instrumental jam at the end was killer.

Help from their road crew was again needed as they got ready for the special cover song they had worked up for this year’s show, and Wes used the twelve-string, while Lewis had the six-string axe. Apparently, David Bowie was the popular artist of the night, because The Toadies tried their hand at “Heroes”, pulling it off beautifully. Toadies fans don’t often get to hear the softer tones Lewis is capable of, which he got to display better on this song than anything else they did this night, and it was amazing.

“…The tiny guitar is back…” he laughed after having plugged the mandolin back in. He thanked Rhett Miller and Doug Burr for opening, along with all the fans for showing up to make this possible, adding that they would be “loud as shit” the next night. “I love playing Fort Worth…” he concluded.

Their 55-minute long set came to a close with a song that they haven’t gotten to end with at all this year: “Tyler”. Even on a mandolin, the opening chords are unmistakable, and, like always, everyone was singing along to every last word of the classic.

The band waved their goodbyes, saying they’d see everyone the following night, but the fans had other things in mind.

I was actually a little taken aback by how much noise the audience made; making it crystal clear they wanted an encore. After a couple minutes, the band felt compelled to come back out, though they had nothing else left to give.

“We’ve been rehearsing like this for eight days!” Vogeler stated. “We didn’t expect this,” Lewis added, referring to fans wanting an encore, and he kindly let everyone know they had just played everything they knew how to in this setting.

People were okay with that then, but I bet next year, these guys will be sure to throw in at least one more song so they’ll have an encore at their disposal if necessary.

The acoustic set was superb. The band did a nice mix of songs from a variety of albums, while the two covers fit nicely, and that new tune whet fans’ appetites for what’s to come in the world of The Toadies. Aside from that, as a fan, it’s just really cool to hear such unique versions of these songs.

All in all, this was not a bad way to get the weekend going; and now it was time for everyone to go home and get ready for the daylong festivities.

(Read my review of day 2 of this year’s Dia HERE.)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 – Delta Spirit’s Date with Dallas is More Like a Homecoming

The line to get inside the Granada Theater was shorter than I thought it would be. It was eight-o’clock and the doors had only just opened, with the line stretching just to edge of the patio out front.

It had been a while since Delta Spirit had played Dallas last, and a little more than two years since they were last at the Granada, so you knew the people of Dallas-Fort Worth had to be excited. Adding to the delight of having another chance to see the band that originated in San Diego, California was also the fact that their new album, Into the Wide, had dropped just the day before.

The venue was filling up nicely as it neared nine, to the point if you left your spot, it wouldn’t be there when you returned; and people chatted with perfect strangers, asking if they had seen the band before. From what I happened to overhear, some hadn’t, which meant they were in for a huge surprise.

The crowd loved the opening set by EDJ; and by the time 10:15 rolled around, the crowd — who had packed out both the seats in the upstairs area along with the massive space that is the general admission spots — was beside themselves, albeit it in a very collected manner.

Then at 10:16, their intro began.

Set up at the back of the stage was what I would say looked like massive blinds, positioned vertically, with a little gap in between each one. Fitting with the title of their new record, footage of some lush trees began to take shape, starting as a small box, before expanding wider so that it stretched from one side to the other, before the top and bottom parts filled out. The visuals were used for the duration of their performance, and they made for a nice touch.

Drummer Brandon Young, bassist Jonathan Jameson, keyboardist Kelly Winrich, singer and rhythm guitarist Matthew Vasquez and lead guitarist William McLaren then walked onto the stage and got ready to deliver 19 songs that spanned nearly all of their releases.

They opened with a taste of their new stuff, and while it was too soon for fans to know the lyrics to songs like from “From Now On”, that certainly didn’t keep them from enjoying them. That track fits the Delta Spirit mold nicely, being slightly atmospheric at times (a feeling that was only intensified by all the visuals), while Young and Jameson made for a very whole rhythm section. The former was already serving up some rapid-fire beats, while Jameson began slapping at the body and neck of his bass as the song neared the end. “COME ON!” Vasquez found time to shout before the third chorus, which compelled the fans to get more into it, even if it was unfamiliar to them.

“It’s so good to be home in Texas!” Vasquez sang in his completely unique gravelly, twangy voice. “I live here now,” he remarked, “And I love every part of it.” “Where do you live?” one woman was heard screaming, but her question went unanswered. Just somewhere here in Texas was all the people were told. He continued, “That being said, I expect a lot of butt shaking, a lot of whiskey drinking, a lot of good times.” The audience erupted in cheers over that, and they were ready to oblige.

Winrich moved from the keys over to the additional drum kit set up at center stage, which was almost hidden behind some of the other equipment in front of it. They went back in time, all of two years, to their self-titled album. They spent a good deal of time on it this night, beginning with “Tear it Up”, which had a good deal of the audience singing along. It was also the song where everyone was offered a true glimpse of how entertaining a Delta Spirit show truly is. At one point, Vasquez brought both hands out in front of his guitar and tapped his palms against the axe, while at another, he lifted his left knee up until it was touching the guitars neck. It may not have been anything over the top, but still, how often do you see something like that? Another highlight came when Young continuously struck the rim of his drums after the second verse, prompting a clap along. “Everybody sing it with me!” Vasquez yelled, as he held back some so the collective voice of the crowd wasn’t outmatched, as the room full of people repeated, “Just tear it up…”.

The applause subsided, and then McLaren led them into the next one, softly plucking at his guitar at first, and building up to “Empty House”. As he did so, Vasquez raised his guitar and sat it atop his head, where he held it right up until the first line. “How could one little speck make a difference to the rest? Well, it doesn’t. No one cared except me,” the two guitarists sang on each chorus; and on the final one, more clapping was required from the spectators. Things took a happier turn when they reached back to Ode to Sunshine, doing the vibrant “Strange Vine”. Jameson was hopping about for the first several seconds of the song; and when they hit the second verse, Vasquez raised one of his legs into the air, balancing on one foot as he continued to strum his guitar. That seemed fitting of the fun vibe the tune has. “Everybody, say ‘Hi’ to William,” Vasquez said before the lead guitarist tore off on a solo, and while he was busy with that, Jameson and Vasquez got right next to one another, then rested the top of their heads on the other’s shoulders while rocking out.

“Look at all you people! It’s beautiful!” exclaimed Vasquez, causing the house lights to go up so they could get a good look at their adoring fans. “Fuck yeah!” one guy shouted. “I love ‘fuck yeah’,” Vasquez responded, and then said on the count of three, he wanted to hear everyone shouting that, so people did.

“Live On” was another new one they broke out, and it quickly pumped the crowd back up with its infectious chorus. Vasquez took his guitar off as it ended, holding it over his head and using his free hand beat the underside of it, making for a cool tone. “Money Saves” followed, and you could feel the excitement spike when people figured out what song it was. Clearly ecstatic by it, they even got their own clap along going, something the band thought was great. They even got everyone singing along to the part before the final chorus, with people singing, “Oh-o-oh-o”, until the noise level was satisfactory to the band.

“Hold My End Up” was perhaps the most interesting of the new batch, simply because of the gradual build it has. It was best seen in Jameson this night, who was very methodical in his playing at first, before getting increasingly vicious, to the point he was slapping the bass by the end.

The line, “I’m a wondering soul,” was all it took to send people into a frenzy. The guy standing beside me, who had seem quite reserved so far this night, began jumping up and down like a madman, as they continued with “People C’mon”. It was, without question, a crowd pleaser, and really seemed to resonate with every person here this night. The refrain of, “…If you’re feeling what I’m feeling, c’mon. All you soul-searching people, c’mon,” sounded more like a message than just a simple line; and the fans took almost complete control of the final chorus, clapping and singing along, before going wild as they let the band know how much they had enjoyed that.

A sample track got them started on “Take Shelter”, a song that often saw Vasquez clutching his guitar, while he just sang into the microphone. Young appeared to be getting quite into that one, especially after the first chorus, and he held my undivided attention on it. He then laid into the kick drum, setting up the forceful beat for “Yamaha”, which may have slowed things down, but it also sent the emotional level sky-high, and nothing else rivaled that this night.

So, how do you follow-up such a soft and emotionally charged song? Well, in Delta Spirit’s case, they did another emotionally charged one, but one that mines a completely different vein. There was plenty of shredding during “Bushwick Blues”, especially during the final minute or so, when it really roared into action. “…It’s no relief. That sounds to me just as sweet,” Vasquez sang, before hunching over his guitar, where he got so involved, he almost didn’t raise back up to the mic in time for the next line.

That song seemed to reinvigorate them; and “Language of the Dead” was another spirited number. As Vasquez sang the first several lines, he faced stage left and walked in place, slowly swinging his arms in a slightly more exaggerated motion. “When this kicks in… you better move your butt!” the singer than informed everyone before their next number. He had gotten behind the piano now, while Winrich moved back to the second drum kit, which also had a keyboard set up beside it. It just took the opening piano line of “Trashcan” for the audience to scream with glee; and that song offered the most unforgettable moment(s) of the night.

Winrich was peer pressured into climbing the scaffolding of the stage by Vasquez. Well, him and the entire room, who were all chanting his name. He scurried up it on stage left, then carefully drug himself along the bars that run across the top of the stage. “Kelly! Look down!” Vasquez shouted as he was about to descend. The vocalist was now at center stage, and after waving to his band mate, he asked everyone to make an aisle for him. He journeyed through the crowd, going a couple of sections deep, before standing on one of the bars that divides each section. “Let’s see how loud you can sing. You know the drill,” he told the audience.

The fans were pitted against one another, though before doing anything, Vasquez stressed he didn’t want to break up any couples, as apparently some were right on the boundary line he drew. He led each side in making some sounds, doing it a few times, before returning to the stage, and since he had no instrument to tie him down, he grabbed the mic stand and half drug it around, half danced with it on the stage.

“That was great! Give Kelly a big hand,” he said, noting the pianist hadn’t been too keen on doing that stunt. Vasquez then shared a good anecdote about them playing ACL, when his wife saw him doing that, and told him she’d never speak to him again if he did it anymore. “So I promised I won’t, I’ll make Kelly do it!” he said smiling.

That said, they suddenly launched into “California”. The song is a beautiful (albeit sad) one, telling a nice tale of letting go of someone because it’s the best thing, but not necessarily the easiest. “…And though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me,” is just one of the exceptionally powerful lines it boasts. Nearly the whole time he was signing, Vasquez had a smile stretching across his face. He had looked the same way for the majority of their set, making it evident he was loving every second of this performance.

He shared another story with everyone during their next break, this one about being on the way to meet his brother-in-law, and being so excited to be getting back to Texas, he drove off from a gas station with the nozzle still in the side of the car. “…I paid the guy eighty bucks, though…” he said of his effort to make the accident right, before repeating how much he enjoyed living in the Lone Star State.

With the night winding down, they pulled out “Children”, which not only worked in a harmonica, but also some more additional percussion, as Kelly got up from the piano at each chorus and beat one of the drums with both a maraca and what looked like a tambourine. McLaren was killing it on that one, really showing off his prowess on the guitar. Soon, the deafening notes faded, but never ceased. “One, two, three, four,” Vasquez counted, as they turned the instrumental bridge into “White Table”. The audience let loose some massive cheers in response to it.

The poignant track concluded their 85-minute long set, as they offered up a few more feats, such as some duel drum solos between Young and Winrich. The crowd was charged with some more singing during an instrumental break, repeating, “Whoa”, several times; before the band sprang into action with a dynamic finish, which had Vasquez thrusting his guitar into the air by his amp, while Jameson banged the headstock of his bass against his amp. The amount of feedback was near deafening.

They waved their goodbyes and walked off stage, but people knew they had to be back.

That’s when someone was struck with a brilliant idea.

“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” someone sang, to the tune of “White Table”. It caught on in no time, and soon, nearly the whole room was doing it, leading the band to rush on stage and extend that song just a bit with a brief jam session.

Vasquez later noted they had never been brought into a room like that before, and you could tell they were all in shock over it.

He grinned while delivering the opening notes of “Parade”, the first song of their encore, which tacked 14 more minutes onto their set. This one song wasn’t smooth sailing, either. “Liars…” he sang on the second verse, before abruptly stopping. “I forgot it,” he admitted, just laughing at himself. The thing was, no one cared. After a show like this, that had been so intense from the get go, how could you? He hummed along to it for a few seconds before it came back to him, and he exclaimed, “I know it now!”, sounding thrilled.

Some ladies shouted out that they loved him during the next break, prompting Vasquez to do his best attempt at a high-pitched feminine voice, saying, “Love you, too!” before they got to the title track from this new record. Fitting with the title, “Into the Wide” just has an expansive quality to it, and is quite picturesque, especially live.

It bled into “People, Turn Around”. Both kits were utilized during it, though Winrich used the main one, while Young seated himself behind the other. Is what made it a perfect closer, was the way it just seemed to work with current world events. “Well, it’s time all you people turn around, for the life we’ve been living, messing around. The blood we’ve been spilling will bleed us dry…” It just felt appropriate, and sent a positive message; and after the audience failed when they were first offered to sing right at the start, they redeemed themselves towards the end, yelling out that chorus.

Thus ended a spectacular performance, the likes of which few bands can deliver these days.

The energy Delta Spirit puts into their shows is impressive to say the least, and all five of them go all in, all the time. The music is so rich and full of texture too; having roots in classic rock, but being modern enough it can appeal to anyone.

I had only seen Delta Spirit once before this, and I must say, they were even better this night then I remembered from that show nearly two years ago, and I know I was amazed by that one.

They leave it all on stage, pouring everything into every show, and at times, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun: the audience, or them.

They’ll be on tour through November 1st, and their full list of dates can be found HERE. Also, if you don’t have any of their records, check them out in iTUNES.

People were already raving about the show as they trekked towards the foyer and out the doors, and if everyone was like me, then they were thinking, “I hope these guys come back to Dallas soon.”

Idol Records Releases New Dead Flowers Single “I’m Leaving”

imageIdol Records has released a new single, “I’m Leaving”, from Dallas rock band Dead Flowers, from their forthcoming sophomore album His Blues.

I’m leaving” was recorded at The Nest Studio in Dripping Springs, TX and produced by Jason Robert Burt.

His Blues will be released by Idol Records on 180 Gram Audiophile vinyl / CD / Download / Stream

The album Release show is Sat. Oct 18 at Club Dada.

Purchase the single on iTunes.

Old Bridge, NJ Metal Band Lords of Mercy Announce Upcoming Tour Dates with Anvil

imageFormed in 2011, Asbury Music Award-nominees LORDS OF MERCY hark back to the early days of thrash metal, hailing from the hub of the East Coast heavy music scene. In addition, LORDS OF MERCY are connected to the notable New Jersey musical grassroots organization Old Bridge Metal Militia, which paved the way for some of today’s top heavy metal acts such as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Anvil, and more.

Lead guitarist Danny Anniello states, LORDS OF MERCY are very excited to be doing more shows with Anvil. They are great guys and a great band that always goes full on and gives it all they’ve got. We are looking forward to playing in front of new audiences and kicking some new life into each stage that we rock. Like AnvilLords will be going full-on, so expect nothing less!”

Prevailing with a purpose to end the monotony of current trends and bring back the originality that put New Jersey on the heavy metal map, LORDS OF MERCY lead the fall touring season with a brief run of upcoming tour dates with Anvil. See below for a list of current tour dates, all within the tri-state area:

10/15 - Patchogue, NY @ The Emporium
10/16 - Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
10/17 - Long Branch, NJ @ The Brighton Bar

Do not confuse LORDS OF MERCY as a carbon copy of those bands of legends past, but rather a group of talented individuals breathing new life and innovation into a genre that is so easily repetitive and omitting passion and individuality. Listen for yourself by downloading the band’s full-length self-titled album released in December via Main Man Records, available here via iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lords-of-mercy/id780793785

Through their significant connections with some of history’s hottest musical talent, LORDS OF MERCY has garnered respect from local fans and musicians alike, commanding a packed crowd while remaining grateful for the support of those sharing the scene.

Figure Announces Groundbreaking “Terrorvision”!

imageEDM/Heavy Bass producer and horror enthusiast FIGURE (aka Josh Gard) has announced his revolutionary show TERRORVISION, an innovative, visual representation of the FIGURE musical experience.

Tickets will go on sale Saturday, September 12th HERE. Go to www.TerrorvIsionTour.com for more details!

Terrorvision has been a concept I’ve been putting together for some time now, something I thought would go really well with my annual Monsters series.

I wanted to create the ability to compile tons of custom edited clips the same way I have compiled tons of music for my sets over the years. I’m a horror buff and I’ve amassed an extensive collection of classic shock theatre and obscure films which is definitely an inspiration for the visual direction on this tour.

Through partnering with Rane/Serato and using their hardware I now have the ability to map these custom visuals to my music on the fly, adding a brand new element to my live show. Many artists look at visuals as a way to simply customize the blank slates of wall behind them. WithTerrorvision it’s another dimension of my music. An intense visual backdrop giving my fans a window into where I draw inspiration; my vision as a producer, coming together on stage where the visuals brings it all to life. - FIGURE

Tour dates:
10/17 - Revolution Live - Ft. Lauderdale, FL
10/18 - Firestone Live - Orlando, FL 
10/24 - Soundgarden Hall - Philladelphia, PA 
10/25 - Skyway Theatre - Minneapolis, MN 
10/29 - Peabody’s - Virginia Beach, VA 
10/31 - The Amphitheater - Tampa, FL 
11/1 - Nightmare Festival - Darlington, MD 
11/6 - Concord Music Hall - Chicago, IL 
11/7 - BETA - Denver, CO 
11/14 - Club Rio - San Antonio, TX 
11/15 - Somewhere Loud - San Diego, CA 
11/20 - Ruby Skye - San Francisco, CA 
11/21 - Lizard Lounge - Dallas, TX 
11/22 - Republic Live - Austin, TX

Connect with Figure:
Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | YouTube

Sunday, September 7th, 2014 – Goodnight Ned is Spot-On at Gas Monkey

Despite being a free show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill, there wasn’t much of a crowd on this Sunday. That can’t be totally unexpected, given the bill consisted of a couple local acts and a touring band that I doubt anyone was familiar with beforehand.

Still, a little more than fifty people or were scattered around the massive patio that houses the outdoor stage; and those who did show up were rewarded with a show that they will not soon forget.

The main support slot this night went to Goodnight Ned; who had released their debut album a little more than a month before this. And after regrettably missing that show, I was looking forward to finally seeing the Dallas-based rock/Americana band again, and now knowing most of the songs.

They focused heavily (though not exclusively) on Ned this night, opening with the vibrant “50,000 Years”, which seems to play to all their strong suits. The keys are often the driving force of the moody song; and about halfway through, Jonas Martin hopped up from his chair as he continued to bang away on the keyboard. The multi-part harmonies were also in full force, as Jonas, guitarist Conner Farrall, drummer Michael Munoz and bassist Matt Trimble chimed in with singer and guitarist Chase McMillan, creating an amazing texture.

“…One. Two. Three. Four,” Jonas counted, before starting them off on “Now I’m Gone”. He didn’t get far before stopping. “Wait, that’s not right,” he remarked, while his band mates and their large section of friends/fans chuckled. He got the notes right the second time around; and he also took over on the lead vocals, with some of the other guys lending their voices here and there on the soulful jam.

Upon finishing it, Connor made the official introduction, telling those watching that they were Goodnight Ned. “…AKA Starmother’s newest, biggest fans,” he added, giving props to the opener.  Their 41-minute long set then continued as they went back to the Smoke From the Sails album from a couple years ago, doing “Papa Jack’s Bag”. The highlight of it came at the extended instrumental outro they gave the track, which featured a lively piano solo.

After another song — which again had Jonas at the helm — the pianist informed everyone they had a cover planned, and it was by Father John Misty. “…He’ll be here in spirit in about five seconds,” he laughed, before they tried their hand at “This is Sally Hatchet”. It could seem like an odd song to cover, but a few months before this they did a show here at Gas Monkey doing a whole set of covers from Father John Misty. Chase was in charge of singing on it; and the bass lines Matt was knocking out sounded very robust, adding a little more kick to the tune.

“We’re happy to be here with you,” Conner mentioned afterwards, pointing out that the headliner, The Picturebooks, had come all the way from Germany. “Well, we came all the way from Lower Greenville,” Jonas added, before saying this next song was another off their album they had for sale. “No it’s not,” Chase told him, smiling at him. “Why do I keep saying stupid shit?!” Jonas asked aloud. At least he was able to laugh at himself.

Instead, they did one of the newer songs they have. Conner finally showed off his voice on it, which is smoother in comparison to Chase’s; while nearly the whole band partook in the chorus, “…Everyone knows you’re the scarlet letter.” They offered up one more, before Michael wound them right in to their closing number. “This is also a song about birds. But wolves, too, I guess,” Jonas informed everyone as they built up to “Wolves & Crows”. The aggressive song is arguably their best; and towards the end of it, Chase tore off from his mic, walking back towards the drums as they shredded on a quick instrumental portion.

I’ve got to say, it was nice finally being able to see these guys and be familiar with their songs. I also think this was perhaps the best Goodnight Ned show I’ve seen. It may not have been perfect, but the way they handled themselves was.

All five guys were working perfectly with one another, each delivering a precise performance that contributed to them being a well-oiled machine this night. You could tell they were in tune with one another every single second they were on that stage. That’s perhaps an unexpected side effect from all the harmonies that they utilize, because there’s even less room for error.

Even their movements were often done in time with each other, though it felt like they were just going with the flow rather than it being rehearsed.

With the recent release of Ned, Goodnight Ned has had a lot of buzz surrounding them, and if you saw the show this night, you know exactly why they are deserving of it. They really are a shining talent here in the scene.

They don’t have any shows listed on their calendar at the moment; though you should go check out their records in iTUNES.

Snot Reunite For U.S. Tour Playing Classic “Get Some” Album In It’s Entirety

imageLegendary Punk / Funk / Rock band SNOT has announced that they will be reuniting once again for a full U.S tour in which they will be performing their classic “Get Some" album in it’s entirety. He Is Legend, Thira, and Lydia Can’t Breathe will offer support. The tour kicks off on November 28th in Palm Desert, California and wraps up on December 23rd in Pomona, California. More dates will be added soon, so make sure to follow SNOT on Facebook for updates.

SNOT guitarist Mikey Doling says of the upcoming tour “I want to let you know we are ready to rock out as hard as humanly possible with all you SNOT heads around the world on our first world tour. I hope you’re ready cause we have a ton of massive energy to bring to you. SNOT is something special to us. We will enjoy playing our debut and only record GET SOME in it’s entirety for you live for all you die hard SNOT HEADS! SAY SOMETHING FOR THE RECORD TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT YOU FEEL!!

SNOT lead singer Tommy Vext adds “Words cannot describe how excited I am to be getting back in the road with my brothers in SNOT. It is a privilege to play with a band that has had an indeterminable influence over countless artists from the bands inception & thereafter. I’m honored to pay tribute Lynn Strait and offer Snot fans on an international level the live experience they may not have yet enjoyed.”

Tour dates:
11/28: Palm Desert, CA @ Shcmitty’s Tavern 
11/29: Las Vegas, NV @ Dive Bar 
11/30: Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater 
12/01: Salt Lake City, UT @ In The Venue 
12/02: Denver, CO @ The Roxy 
12/04: Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom 
12/05: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s 
12/07: St. Paul, MN @ Amsterdam Bar & Hall 
12/09: Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s 
12/14: Dallas, TX @ Trees 
12/15: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar 
12/16: San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live 
12/17: Austin, TX @ The Dirty Dog Bar 
12/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Club Red 
12/20: Tucson, AZ @ The Rock 
12/22: San Diego, CA @ The Soda Bar 
12/23: Pomona, CA @ The Glass House

More dates to be announced soon!

Saturday, September 6th – SpaceCamp shows Off a New(er) Sound at Liquid Lounge

The show at Liquid Lounge this night got off to a little earlier start then I expected.

It was a little before nine when I walked in the intimate room, and there were already three musicians on stage.

With just a couple more songs to go, I never caught the name of this instrumental band, who was good, though that’s just a style I’m seldom a fan of.

Following them up was a singer by the name of Charley Crockett. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear the name Crockett, you immediately think of Davy Crockett, and from what Charley said later this night, he is kin to the historical figure, and that is something he’s proud of.

To be the only person on that stage, he did an amazing job of filling it up. His music was incredibly soulful and very bluesy, and it all came from the heart, as he and his guitar produced one song after the other. “That’s a new one I’m working on,” he remarked at the end of one song, before bridging it right in to another.

“Down Trodden Man” was one of the cuts he did from his latest EP, and it was quite fitting of the wanderer role he had already cast himself in. “…I do believe if I had wings I’d still be lonesome,” he crooned on one line; and despite sounding like it would be a sad song, there were never even any slight undertones of it. Instead, he seemed almost cheerful; and at one point, when he cut out on his guitar, the onlookers decided to start clapping along, something Charley welcomed.

He threw out a few more songs, each one dripping with raw emotions, which was the quality everyone watching seemed to enjoy the most about his set.

Not only was he an exceptional singer and songwriter, he was also an extremely skilled guitarist. It was something to watch as he wailed on his axe, making music that spoke to people on a deeper level than many songs do.

Charley Crockett was the most surprising act to me this night, as I was not expecting to discover such a talented solo artist by coming to this show. I’m glad I did, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.

He’ll be back in Dallas on October 8th at Adair’s Saloon, and he has plenty of other tour dates as well. They can be found HERE, and you can download a couple of free songs of his HERE.

Perhaps the most interesting band of the night was Skinny Cooks.

How often do you see a rap and spoken word band perform, using a cello and a xylophone. That’s exactly what Nigel Newton (who played the xylophone) and Brianne Sargent did, though. They were also joined by a drummer and bassist, who really fleshed out the sound, though it was those two core members who received everyone’s attention.

They only got 19-minutes, squeezing four songs into that time and rotating on who provided the vocals. As I said, at times it was more like spoken word, others it was rapped, but no matter what was going on, it was riveting.

Simple, yet complex; with the emotions being conveyed in the music.

I’d definitely be interested in seeing them again sometime.

Their music can found on BANDCAMP.

Paco Estrada was next up this night, and it had been far too long since I had seen the singer/songwriter with a full-band. Making this all the more special was the fact that Zuriel was joining him on the violin.

Zuriel was one of the first members Paco picked up when forming what eventually became Paco Estrada & One Love, a band that started about six years ago, and disbanded four years ago now (man, that makes me feel old.) In the aftermath, Zuriel has only played with Paco once, and that was just a few weeks before this show, making this a special treat for longtime fans.

The 50-minute set was an interesting one that covered a variety of albums (and bands), beginning with them going all the way back to Paco’s days in SouthFM. “Blue & Grey” was a song that iconic Dallas band never did much, as the slower pace didn’t fit with their noisy rock shows, though it worked this night, and caught longtime fans a little off guard as Paco started the first line, “Collected all these words to paint this picture for you and try to get you to see…” It was mostly Paco and his acoustic guitar for a while, with Zuriel, the drummer and bassist hanging back, before it really escalated towards the end. Zuriel was even wailing on his violin there at the end, reminding some people of some days long gone by.

From that song from nearly ten years ago, they jumped ahead to some of Pacos’ newer music, doing the sweet love song, which I believe is titled, “The Way That I Love You”. Following that new staple was another new one, and one that quite honestly sounded like a cover. I wasn’t alone in thinking that, either. It sounded phenomenal, though for some reason, it just didn’t feel like one of his, despite the fact that it was. The drummer was crushing it during that song, while the riffs burrowed their way into your head instantly. The lyrics stood out, too, with one line I remember being, “… Burn it to the ground, let the truth be found…”.

“Zuriel just made some shit up,” laughed Paco, who wasn’t really joking, as Zuriel is a master at improve. “This is the song about the girl behind the girl behind the girl,” Paco stated before “She”, a song off 2013’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation EP. “…I could never give you my heart; she left me black and mostly blue. You could give me all the love in the world, but baby, I’ll never give it back to you,” he belted on chorus of that emotional tune about being forever haunted by a past love.

“Harder!” one fan/friend shouted once that one was done, prompting Paco to ask, “Why is that always your go to word?” In retaliation, he said they were going to go softer, joking that, that was a shame for everyone, because they had a really “awesome” totally redone version of a Tool song planned, but instead would just skip over it. He bantered on, saying he and Zuriel were in counseling trying to work stuff out, before sitting up their next tune. “It’s a sad song. But they’ve all been sad,” he remarked, before pulling v2.0 of “Killing Me”, as was performed by One Love. Zuriel looked like this was all second nature to him, and at times, he plucked the strings of his violin, before using the bow later in the song.

“Just like we practiced, just like we practiced,” Paco laughed, who had just earlier stated he sends the tracks to the bassist, so he can listen to the songs he’ll be playing, and I’m fairly certain Zuriel was winging it all night long. The bassist then chimed in, saying he wanted to do “She Talks to Angels”, something Paco was easily persuaded to do. “I don’t know why that happened, but it did,” he stated after finishing the rendition of The Black Crowes song, which was followed by another original from The Anatomy of Letting Go, “Reckless Love”, which again found Zuriel in the zone, since it was from the One Love days.

They had one song left, but first, Paco thanked the openers, saying he happened to find Charley Crockett on the side of the road; and also mentioning the people who had come to this show wearing the band shirts (for the headliner, SpaceCamp), saying “There’s always that guy,” at shows. (For the record, I was one of the guys who had worn the band shirt.) To end things, they did the old standby, “Whiskey Kisses”, which once again saw Zuriel doing a bit of a solo towards the end.

Paco and his band did not disappoint. Then again, they never do.

It was a nice smorgasbord of his music, from his solo records, to his past bands, while also looking ahead to his future. I’m sure I got this point across by now, but it was also fun seeing Zuriel back on stage, going between playing his violin in a more traditional manner, to rocking out on it, to the point it can rival any electric instrument.

I say this every time, and I’ll say it again: Paco is the best singer/songwriter in the D/FW area, and that fact was proven yet again this night.

You can find all of his music on his BANDCAMP; and he should have a new release out by the end of the year.

Wrapping up the night was SpaceCamp; and they had changed things up since the last time I had seen them.

Paco Estrada got no downtime; however, unlike the past SC shows, he wasn’t using his acoustic guitar this time around. Instead, he just stood in front of the mic, using his voice. The other big difference was they now had a keyboardist, who was also responsible for running the live tracks, something they started doing more recently.

Rounding out the band was guitarist Mike Dove and bassist Emsy Robinson, along with frontman Jeremy Rodriguez (AKA Tomahawk Jonez), plus a drummer, whom I hadn’t seen with them before.

They opened with “The Dancer”, and right away, Jeremy  began rapping, “My fears, my pain fall upon your ears so they don’t feel the same…”, putting not only a ton of emotion into it, but also making it sound quite fierce. Paco took over on each chorus; and at the end, he was responsible for tacking on a part of a cover song, singing, “…So I’m never gonna dance again, the way I danced with you,” from “Carless Whisper”.

“We were in Lubbock last night,” Jeremy stated, saying the girls there liked to drink whiskey, and asked if that was true of the girls here. Paco followed that with a rhetorical question. “What college girl doesn’t?” “If This is Goodbye” sounded like a different song live as the sample track got it going; and Jeremy clapped along there at first, causing some fans to join along. He later pointed to Mike when the rest of the instruments cut out; making sure all attention was on the guitarist. When they got to the choruses, Jeremy hung his head, though still danced along; and Paco put an overwhelming amount of emotion into the second one. I’m not sure what caused him to make it even more charged than normal, but it made the already great song even better.

“Do y’all want to hear another song from that same album?” Jeremy asked, referring to the Full Moon EP. “That wasn’t too convincing,” he replied after a lackluster response from the crowd, who did better the second time around. Before they could move on, though, Mike had to change guitars, and then they were off onto “The Lover”. They had redone some parts of it, especially at the end, when both Paco and Jeremy each sang of their different parts in unison with one another, sounding absolutely amazing.

“Faster! Harder!” a patron shouted, leading Paco to inform him they were not Daft Punk. “That’s not a Kanye song?” Jeremy replied, believably feigning some surprise. “Reach for the Sun” came next, and while several of SpaceCamp’s songs are positive and uplifting, that one has to take the cake. As Paco began the final chorus, Jeremy beat his chest, then slowly raised his head until he was gazing towards the ceiling, seeming to look right past it and towards the stars.

“What the fuck is wrong with this stand, Gene? “Why are you trying to sabotage our set?!” Paco joked with the sound man; though the mic stand had been giving them some trouble. They slowed things down and got quite serious with “Surrender to the Night”; then picked the pace back up with “White Horses”, which Jeremy jokingly dedicated to all the women in line for the bathroom. There was no line, though he did say that right at the time one woman happened to walk out, which was hilarious. “What’s the worst that could happen?” Jeremy finished, creating his own echo effect when singing that final word, and it sounded awesome.

“You want to keep that mood going?” he asked afterwards, as the keyboardist started the track to “Dancing with the Devil”. It had barely got going when Jeremy had him kill it, something that perplexed his band mates. “Are you not ready to dance with devil?” Paco quipped, getting a laugh from the crowd. The track sounded fuller when it came back in, just like it should; and that number really exploded when they hit the last chorus, from the singing, to the instruments, everything was in high gear.

“These are all true stories by the way,” Paco informed everyone once they finished. With only two EP’s worth of music in their catalog, they had played nearly everything they had, except for one song. They ended their 50-minute long set with “Before you Die”, which sounded more relaxed this time around than I’ve heard it in the past. It was more behooving of the song, allowing it to become even more emotional than it already is. As usual, Paco added some of “Blue and Yellow” by The Used to the end. “…Rather waste my time with you…” he crooned, before getting to one line he put so much into and held for so long, his face visibly turned red.

Jeremy was excited when talking to me about them using the sample tracks now, especially after how it has gone over at their other recent shows. I was quite intrigued to hear it, but at the same time, I’m one of those people who’s typically not a fan of the use of tracks.

It doesn’t work for every band, often detracting from the sound in my opinion, but for SpaceCamp, it fits. The band has such a unique sound in the first place, describing themselves as trip-rock, and the use of the tracks really did help give all the songs the perfect feel. It really was like you were hearing the recordings live, though they had that raw quality that can only come with a live performance.

I dug it, and it sets the stage for a whole new SpaceCamp.

You can purchase both of the bands EP’s over in iTUNES.

This was a very diverse night of music here at Liquid Lounge, but one that was overflowing with talent, making it a solid night from start to finish

Sunday, August 31st, 2014 – A Double Plaque Show at The Curtain Club

What better way to bring Labor Day weekend to a close (well, at least the actual weekend portion of it) then by going to a concert. To have a show on a Sunday night, especially on a holiday weekend, it’d have to be something pretty important, though. And that was exactly the type of show the Curtain Club was hosting this night.

Most notably, it was a double plaque presentation, with two more bands going up on the storied Wall of Fame.

You might think the crowd would be pretty thin on a night like this, and it did start off that way, though there were a fair amount of eyes on Agents of Solacewhen they hit the stage about 8:30.
image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

“Lesson Learned” was the lone song they did off their two-year-old self-titled, debut album, and it set the tone for the remainder of their set. The five of them were really feeling the song. Lead guitarist Tom Williamson tore it up on his axe, and while in the zone, he leaned against Macie, who was belting out the lyrics. Rhythm guitarist Jeff Williamson also lent his voice towards the end, making for a duel-vocal part that sounded killer.

Nearly all of their songs fed seamlessly into the next, as was the case here, when they transitioned into a song that I believe was called “Sundown”. Keith Watson definitely proved the drums were the backbone of the song, and he was responsible for some hard-hitting beats, which I found to be the best part of the track. Let’s not forget the few lines that Macie sang a cappella, though, which left several people in the room in a state of awe.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

Jeff then wound then in to their rousing rendition of Halestorm’s “Familiar Taste of Poison”, which plays to their strong suits; and bassist Chip Kohr went from using the keyboard in front of him for part of it to rounding out the rhythm section with some thick bass lines.

“Thank you for coming out tonight and supporting some music,” Macie said over the track that bled them into their next number. She mentioned a video of it could be found on Youtube. With Jeff handling much of the lead vocals on the first half of the large-scale “Voyeurs”, Macie was left to groove to the music for a bit, before it became more co-sung between them. A spacey sounding track mixed with the keys then bridged them into the following song; and while her band mates got ready for it, Macie savored the breeze from fan that set up at the front of the stage. “That feels so good!” she remarked, before asking how everyone was feeling. The response she got wasn’t nearly good enough, which led her to repeat the question.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

Jeff was now armed with an acoustic guitar, as they brought it down a notch or two with a newer song, “Gravity”. That wasn’t the only new song they did this night, though. They had one that was even fresher than that, and Macie pointed out they had just put it together a few weeks before this. “Hope you like it,” she told the crowd, also informing them it was titled “Take”. Once again, Jeff was doing much of the singing, making for a pretty balanced show in regard to sharing the vocal duties. The song got off to a slower start, and they took some time to build it up, but then it sprang to life. He was also responsible for a nice little guitar solo during it.

“Are y’all ready?!” asked Macie during the segue into the final song of their 37-minute long set. The singing was once again split amongst the two vocalists; and perhaps the best part of the song was the series of solos. Macie introduced each of the band members, and after each name was said, the rest of the band dropped out, allowing that one member a solo that lasted a few seconds. It made for a nice touch.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

Thus ended their time on stage, and having seen their show here at the end of June and then this one, this was a little different Agents of Solace.

I think a lot of that can be attributed to the flow they gave their performance this night. With next to no downtime, they had no option but to get more into it; and the longer they played, the more they were all vibing with one another. The chemistry they had going on this night was spectacular as well, and that was what made this such a great show to watch. Actually, they were worthy of a later slot than what they got, even if it was just by an hour.

Their next show is scheduled for October 3rd at O’Rileys in Dallas. You can also find a couple tracks for free download on their REVERBNATION, and get the full album in iTUNES.

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Next up this night was one band I had not heard of before, and that was Residing Regret.

I wasn’t sure about them during the first couple songs. That’s not to say they were bad, but I just stayed on the fence about them for a bit.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

Frontman Lennon Brown III asked for some crowd participation before their second number, asking everyone to yell, “Chains!”, along with them on the chorus. He conducted a test run, which went over well, and pointed out that their music had a message to it. In this case, it was about breaking through your chains that restrict you in life. “You better do it,” he added, speaking of the singing, before jokingly threatening to not take a crowd selfie if people didn’t get into it. “Why are we constantly hurting ourselves?” went one of the lines from the song, which seemed pretty striking to me.

The onlookers didn’t let them down, either, helping a bit with the singing. “That’s the first time that’s actually worked,” Lennon confessed afterwards, saying that from now on they’d expect it.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes | Fountain Photo Ops)

“Visions” was the song where I started to really enjoy them. Guitarists Emanuel Villegas and Robert Griffith, as well as bassist Casper Morgan were doing a good job of moving around the stage; and after finishing that song, things got pretty entertaining. Lennon clearly felt right at home conversing with the crowd, which was like a double-edged sword in some ways, ‘cause at times it stretched on for several minutes, which didn’t help the flow of the show. Anyway, Lennon joked about how good the crowd sounded after that one, particularly one person who was raving about the band, and he had them repeat the noise. “I’m not going to tell you what that sounded like, ‘cause I’d get arrested,” Lennon cracked after the second time.

When they got to the final three songs, they threw them out pretty quick, ending with “Blackout”.

It might have taking me a little time to warm up to Residing Regret, but once I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

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You could tell they were on cloud nine up there, especially Lennon, who was just having the time of his life chatting with everyone and playing their music for the people.

As for their music, it was more along the lines of alt/rock, with some curve balls thrown in here and there. It was a little different from what I’ve heard before, which was cool.

You can download a couple demos they have for free HERE. As for shows, keep a check on their FACEBOOK page.

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Now it was time to get to the doubleheader portion of the night, which began with Solice.

(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes Fountain Photo Ops)

The instrumentalists, guitarist Juan Brittos, bassist Rob Pummil and drummer Ryan Matthews were raring to go, and they began before the curtain was pulled open on them. The venue was pretty packed by now, and their throng of fans instantly got into the music, banging their heads along, while Rob jumped about.

“Dallas, Texas, make some noise!” shouted Xtina Lee when she stormed the stage a few moments later. “This first song is Sweet Escape!” she added, as the music soon let up. “I want to escape from this horrid place, but it’s captured me…” she crooned on the first verse, before it roared back into action at the chorus. It was then that she, Juan and Rob around in their spots. “Make some noise!” Xtina shouted at one point during the track, drawing a massive response from everyone; and at another point, the fans decided to start a clap along to the beats Ryan was knocking out.
image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes Fountain Photo Ops)

“Dallas, Texas, we are so fucking excited to be here. It’s all because of you,” she added, expressing their gratitude to all the fans for helping them receive a plaque. “Let me see your hands!” she then requested, leading the crowd in a clap along while Juan ripped into “Heart of Stone” with a wicked solo. The fans seemed to be loving that song — which is one of the newest in their catalog; and it seemed to be the song where they solidified their hold over the crowd this night.

“This is one of our favorites,” Xtina stated before their next one, asking to see some lighters or cell phones in the air. Both were raised towards the sky, and surprisingly, there were more lighters than phone screen present — at least from my line of sight. The tune was “Trapped”, which showed off the more delicate side they are capable of (at times, at least), but that didn’t last too long. Xtina threw out some merch to the fans, which ranged from wristbands to a copy of their debut LP, and then asked if anyone had checked out their Youtube channel. Those who had knew the song quite well, as Xtina stepped back by the keyboard and used it for just a bit at the start. “Do You See It Now?” was made all the more ominous by the eerie way both Juan and Rob uttered the title into their mics. The fans were once again brought into the show when another clap along moment arose, and everyone was more than willing to be a part of it.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes Fountain Photo Ops)

“Has anyone heard our single?” Xtina asked. Of course, some had, and a few fans shouted, “Save Me!” back at them. The heavy song was made even heavier by the backing vocals Juan does, screaming in a throaty and very metal sounding voice. Afterwards, a quick poll was taken, which showed not just how many people had seen Solice before, but also that there were plenty of first timers there. “This is one of the first songs we ever wrote,” Xtina then mentioned, setting up their next song. “…It’s about not being fake or something that you’re not,” she finished, before returning to the keys as she and her band mates got “The Mask” underway. Rob — who had now removed the vest he had been wearing so far this night — was furiously slapping his bass on that classic Solice tune; and about midway through, Juan was roaming around the stage, eventually jumping atop the center monitor.

“Never Enough” had a little prelude of sorts, which saw Xtina swaying to and fro in front of the microphone, before the drums and everything else kicked in, sending not only the song but also the band into overdrive. There came a moment when Xtina decided to crowd surf. The audience had thinned out some now that they were in the latter part of their set; and she didn’t get too far off the stage before slipping a bit. Those who did have her quickly put some extra muscle into it to ensure nothing would happen to her, before sending her back to the stage. Then, when the song reached its pinnacle moment, sounding quite metal, a mosh-pit was started by some of the spectators.

image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes Fountain Photo Ops)

The action packed “Break Free” came next, and Xtina noted that while they don’t play it too often, they were doing it for everyone this night. “BREAK FREE!” Rob screamed at the top of his lungs before each chorus, and he continued slapping his bass. The rhythm section in general sounds amazing on that song, and the mighty beats Ryan was producing made it all the more fitting of an environment for another small mosh-pit to break out.

For their final song, they did something a little different. Josh Woodward — who produced their album — joined them on stage. Rob handed him his bass, while he grabbed another guitar. “…This song’s very special to me,” Xtina stated, referring to “Solace”. “Solace comes when you accept your pain,” goes one of the lines from that emotion-filled song about getting out of a toxic relationship, a song that had all eyes glued on them.

It provided a good note to end on, and at 45-minutes, their set was the longest of the night.
image(Photo credit: Roxanne Fuentes Fountain Photo Ops)

The audience applauded them, especially once their plaque was brought out. The group posed around, and it appeared that nearly every person in there had to phones up to take a picture of this landmark event in Solice’s history.

The excitement of the night was evident in every single second of the show, and you could tell there was just something special in it. It’s the kind of rush that comes with getting a plaque or even releasing a CD, and the fact that Solice managed to combine the two made it all the more memorable. Mix in a healthy crowd who was providing plenty of energy for them to feed off of, and the result was probably one of the best shows they’ve ever done.

You can get their record, Solace, on iTUNES. As for shows, they’ll be playing The Dirty Rooster in Allen on September 20th, and then The Wreck Room in Amarillo on October 18th.

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Closing out the night was one band I hadn’t seen in a while, and that was Faded Grace.

They aren’t quite as active as they were a couple of years ago, but the band hasn’t kicked the bucket, either; and now, after a few years of working towards it, they, too, were finally being awarded a plaque on the wall.

Their 43-minute long set got started with “Go Alone”, and even though it had been several months since they were last all on a stage together, you couldn’t tell it. Bassist Laura Paleczka and guitarist Jessica Bruns immediately began interacting with one another, getting face to face as the jammed; while towards the end, Jessica walked towards the center of the stage and did a little backbend next to frontwoman Tracy.

“We weren’t sure about today, until now,” Tracy laughed during their first break. “It’s been a while since the five of us have been together,” she added, also pointing out they were a little “tipsy” this night. “But that makes it more fun!” she stated, before they moved on with another song. They were all clearly just enjoying having a platform to share their music on again, as was evident when a couple of the band members were seen mouthing the words; and Jessica worked her way over to stage right, where she leaned against fellow axe-slinger Diane Contreras.

Despite what Tracy had said earlier, they didn’t appear tipsy on stage, which was a good thing, because several shots had now appeared on stage, and after downing them, Laura started them into “Side to Side”. They had a pretty good showing of fans out, and everyone was banging their heads along to the thunderous beats, which seemed to accent Tracys’ mighty voice at times.

“Thank you, guys…” the frontwoman told their dedicated fans afterwards, saying that was something she couldn’t say enough. “The next time we play live for you guys, we’ll have a brand new song,” she then added. That will be something to look forward to, but for now, the folks were treated to “Liar”, which highlights both their soft and heavy sides; and on some of the heavier parts, Laura spun her head in a circle as she slapped at her bass. They then tackled the subsequent track from the Volume 1.5 EP, but only after inviting a friend/fan on stage and singing happy birthday to her. “That’s the only time I’ve ever liked that song being sung for me,” the woman told the band as she rejoined the rest of the audience.

Jessica had set her guitar down now, and now held her mic in her hand. Their rendition of Deftones’ “Passenger” utilizes her voice as well as Tracys’; and as they got it going, Laura wandered down to one of the steps in front of the stage, where she spent the entire song, giving the crowd just a little better view of her skills. Shortly after they finished, Tracy got on her phone. “I’m not checking Facebook, I’m refreshing my memory,” she clarified, before later pointing out that if anyone wanted to get them something to drink, they quite liked Shiner beer and/or whiskey. That said, they kept the loud and heavy sounds flowing with “Sister”, which ended with Jessica and Laura giving each other a little kiss; and after again thanking everyone, and stressing the only reason this night was happening was because “all those other nights you fucking showed up”, as Tracy put it, they did “Self Ruin”. Jessica leaned in towards the lead microphone for parts of it, helping out with the vocals; and at the brutal instrumental break, all five of the ladies thrashed about.

There were mixed feelings when they got to their final song. On one hand, people were sad their set was practically over. On the other hand, they quite enjoyed hearing and singing along to “Bad Bitch”. “…You don’t know who you’re messing with tonight. We’ve got you by the balls!” fans shouted along to each chorus. “We will be back…” Tracy noted, before they reached the homestretch for the song, wrapping it up.

The shouts for an encore were swift, but having such little time all together to practice (Tracy mentioned earlier in the night that this day was actually their only one to practice), they had nothing of the sort planned. It was then that Doug, who’s part owner of the Curtain, stepped on stage. He held a plaque, and appeared sort of embarrassed. He apologized that their artist responsible for painting all the plaques had yet to finish the one for Faded Grace, and had only partially done it so far. “I like it like that!” Tracy shouted, saying she thought it was perfect with it more being a very basic outline of all five of them. Jessica did not feel the same. “I’m not done!” she yelled. Then came the jokes, like when Tracy seemed to speak a thought aloud. “I’ve never wanted a piece of wood so bad in my life,” she quipped; and shortly after, Jessica began to ride it.

In true Faded Grace fashion, this show was just as much about having fun as it was putting on a rock show. They balanced it well, and made sure the crowd was enjoying it every bit as much as they were.

Everyone had a blast; and even though I hadn’t seen them in probably going on two years, and considering they can only play once every several moths anymore, it didn’t look like they had lost a step in their live show. It was still powerful as ever; and the chemistry they have with one another was easy to see.

Who knows when they’ll play again, but until then, you can find their two albums in iTUNES.

Faded Grace capped the night off perfectly, and after such a long weekend, I think nearly everyone was ready to get out of there so they could start recouping.

Saturday, August 30th, 2014 – An Anniversary Party Fit for a King (Camel, That is)

In just a year’s time, King Camel Productions has established itself as a key player in the North Texas music scene. Perhaps the best quality founder Jeffrey Brown brings to booking his shows is his love for the more obscure bands, bands that you may have never heard of before, but after seeing them, you’ll most likely be a fan.

That’s happened to me on more than one occasion when I’ve attended some King Camel shows, where I’ve walked into the venue with no prior knowledge on some of the acts, but have left a new fan. I was hoping that would repeat this day at Club Dada, for the first annual King Camelversary.

Sixteen bands had been tapped to play the daylong event, and with the exception of a handful of acts, I was unfamiliar with most of them.

The shindig began at 4:30 in the afternoon, a little earlier than I was able to make it, since I had spent much of the early afternoon in Fort Worth at The Kimbell Art Museum. That meant I missed Howler Jr., who started off the event on the outdoor stage, along with Tidals, who got the party going indoors.

It was about 5:45 when I walked inside the venue; greeted the friendly promoter; and then headed out to the patio, to see what I could of International Bitterness Unit.

I caught the last few songs from the band that plays pure rock; and they exceeded their 30-minute time slot by a bit, choosing to do one more quick number. Singer and rhythm guitarist Britt Tucker moved his guitar behind for it and often gripped the mic as he belted out the lyrics. Marco Elizondo was a force to be reckoned with back on the drums; and at one point, bassist Andrew Magilow leaned against Britts’ back, making for a very rock ‘n’ roll moment.

What I saw was great, and the band seemed even better and more cohesive than the first time I saw them a few months back (which just so happened to be at the Local Education concert series King Camel does from time to time.)

On September 20th, IBU will be playing at Tradewinds Social Club in Dallas.

For me, that was a good way to get this King Camelversary going; but now it was time to experience the other side of the festival.

“It’s like stepping from one world into another, isn’t it?” Jeff remarked to me when I happened to walk up beside him.

Indeed, it was.

Botany was on stage, and this was the first of many bands this day whom I had never seen, let alone heard of.

Spencer Stephenson is responsible for the sounds, and a series of synthesizers and keyboards were laid out in front of him. In terms of style, it was not at all what I like. However, there was some sort of enchanting quality it had. You really couldn’t help but get into it, as Spencer darted from keyboard to keyboard, creating what sounded like one massive song, as there was no real stopping point until right at the end.

He even tried some singing on a couple latter songs, though he used about as much reverb as possible, and it was so gauzy and distant sounding the actual words were pretty much indiscernible.

Botany may not be my typical style but even if I had wanted to, I don’t think I could have pulled myself away. There was just something the music. It entranced you; and I wouldn’t mind seeing a second show.

There was another big shift in the genres when folks stepped back onto the patio and the dreadful heat that came with standing in the sun (at least there was some shade to find refuge in).

Matthew & The Arrogant Sea were ready to doll out their jazzy style of roots rock for everyone, and they were doing so without a drummer. Actually, there were so many band members on stage it took me a couple minutes to even realize there was no drum kit set up behind everyone.

Their first tune had a heavy jazz presence, which seemed most prevalent in the trumpet Sammy Strittmatter played, as well as Brent Buemi and his oboe, though even the electric and acoustic guitar contributed. They rolled it into another track, and upon finishing it, singer and acoustic guitarist Matthew Gray let everyone know they were “fucking thrilled” to be there at the Camelversary.

They had some lengthy tracks planned for everyone, and given the tight schedule, they didn’t waste much time on banter. Another cool jam — even tranquil in some ways — came next, and it was during it that Rahim Quazi was sidelined. His keyboard was having some technical difficulties, so he decided to handle some percussion instead, and began clapping along to the music his band mates were making. The problem never was officially resolved, so for the bulk of their set, Rahim wound up being an unexpected member of the rhythm section.

“Let’s get a hand for Bob,” Matthew asked during the next break, referring to the man that is often affectionately called “Keyboard Bob”, who had showed up. Though he didn’t have his keyboard with him this day. “Do y’all know any Beatles?” Bob asked later on, while the band just laughed it off.

As they wound down, Matthew declared they had some “fucking cocktail rock” left for everybody. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that genre before, but the Arrogant Sea pulled it off. Electric guitarist Tony Whitlock and bassist Blake Vickrey added some true rock layers to it, though it was kept more relaxed; and the harmonies much of the band contributed at times sounded phenomenal. They actually had time for one more after that (most of their songs spanned several minutes); and then thanked those who were there for watching.

They may have had some setbacks, what with the keys, and even not having a drummer was different for them, but they pulled it all off. Rahim deserves some props for just going with the flow, and he never appeared displaced by not having a keyboard to play. The songs sounded great, too, and even without a full rhythm section, they still had a robust quality to them; and Matthews’ voice was pleasing to all the ears that were listening.

They were another band I had first seen at a previous King Camel show a few months back, and like the earlier mentioned band, I enjoyed M&TAS even more the second time around.

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for news on future shows. They also have an older release available in iTUNES, with some new music (hopefully) due out by year’s end.

Back on the inside stage was the husband and wife duo of Ian and Mila Hamilton, who make up Mannequins with Kill Appeal.

The name was every bit as intriguing as their music wound up being.

They did all of four songs in a set that was only about 15-minutes, and regularly alternated on who did the singing, with Mila starting them off.

The music was rooted in electronic elements, all of which were controlled by Ian, who had a laptop and some other gear in front of him, though each also wielded a guitar.

Fitting with the electronic vibe, the lyrics were hard to hear, but that didn’t hamper the music. They quickly built up to an explosive finish to their third song, which saw Ian shredding on his axe; and even after mixing it flawlessly into their final song, his playing just got progressively faster.

It’s not that I’m not open to electronic music, I’m just very selective to what I listen to. The fact that Mannequins with Kill Appeal married some rock music to their synthesized sounds made me like it all the more, and I was actually a little sad their set didn’t last any longer than it did, ‘cause I had just started really enjoying it.

There was yet another duo ready to rock now on the outdoor stage, and the was the slightly psychedelic, Mercury Rocket.

They tore things up on that stage; and when he wasn’t doing any singing, singer and guitarist Ben Fleming broke away from the mic stand and walked around. That may not have been a good idea at first, because as they concluded their first song, and he stepped away, the mic stand began to fall. Luckily, one spectator was quick to react and saved it.

Despite just being a two-piece, it was instantly clear Mercury Rocket had a fleshed out sound, and that first tune was even quite rich sounding. They rolled it right into the next song; and after another one, Ben killed some time by chitchatting with the onlookers.

“…We keep fucking up,” he remarked, adding, “It’s not your fault,” just so none of the crowd felt responsible for their issues. They got things in order and then ended their 23-minute long set with a song that featured some heavy use of an electronic drum pad that Graham Brotherton split his time between, though he still using his kit. There was also a nice delay effect in the guitar, creating an excellent sound.

Mercury Rocket is one band I’ve heard about, but hadn’t seen until this night. They were even better than I expected; and they packed a lot of energy into those handful of songs they did.

They’re a killer band in general, and an excellent duo; and that’s something the D/FW music scene can never have too much of.

You can find a collection of singles they’ve recorded on their BANDCAMP site, each for the low price of $1.

There were a few minutes of downtime, and then it was time for Bashe on the indoor stage.

“…That’s bash with an ‘e’ at the end…” singer and guitarist Joe Cepeda Overman informed everyone before they began. “And these are our songs,” he pointed out, before they embarked on their 31-minute long set. His twelve-string guitar helps add a more distinct tone to their shoegaze brand of rock; and as their first song reached its end, he walked back over by his amp to create some feedback.

That served as a bridge into the next one, which had a grand sound to it, with the drums from Zac Travis and TC Olivers’ bass all working in excellent harmony with one another. Another track got started with some ominous bass riffs, and upon finishing it, Joe circled back to where they began.

“We’re Bashe, and that was our music,” he remarked, before wishing a happy anniversary to King Camel. They had one more, though. “I’ll let you serenade me with this one,” shouted Jeff Brown, who wasn’t far off, because on this final track, Joe tapped into his falsetto voice at times.

Bashe helped continue the greatness of this day, giving the crowd (which was rapidly growing by this point) a solid performance with a near non-stop pace.

I first saw Bashe on this stage a few months before this (you guessed it, it was a King Camel show), and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, they, too, were a band who I thought was even better the second time around.

Their music is pretty fresh, in my opinion. For me, it’s just a perfect blend of indie rock and electronic, but unlike some of the bands who played before them, the vocals are still strong and easy to understand. It’s like they picked out the strongest attributes of each genre, and then got creative.

You can find two variations of their debut EP, Open Up, on BANDCAMP (one features the songs performed at a slower pace). Check it out; it’s a good piece to have in your collection.

Back on the patio, Fogg was already beginning their performance, and it was something to behold.

The trio was more hard rock, but merged a few different genres into their sound, including a little psychedelic and even some slight metal. They were equal parts instrumental, too, producing some killer, dirty rock sounds, with constant shredding from guitarist Chase Jowell (who also provided the vocals), and even bassist Brandon Hoffman. Drummer Ethan Lyons was also a machine, and just slayed on the kit.

“Is it too loud?” Chase asked at one point, responding to a couple of people who kept screaming for it to be louder (and faster). He quickly answered his on question with, “It’s probably not loud enough.”

Fogg could have had it cranked all the way up to eleven, and I don’t know if that would have been loud enough for people. They put on a spectacle of a show, and are skilled musicians who were even semi-technical with their styles. That made the instrumental segments all the better, because you could just watch them on their weapon of choice.

They were a surprise for me, as I was not expecting such a powerhouse show. It wound up being one of the best of the entire day.

They have some demos and fully produced songs you can get for free or just a few bucks over at BANDCAMP.

Hex Cult was about the only band on this bill I wasn’t able to get into.

I’m just not a fan of the screaming each member of the band does. Still, the two guys put on a ferocious show, and even if you don’t care for the music, that can be enough to keep you interested.

It peaked right at the end, when their singer jumped into the crowd, threw a bottle of water into the air, and then began acting wild as he thrashed around, rolled on the ground and even started a small mosh-pit with some of the fans who were willing to partake in it.

They, too, had kept their set short, and didn’t even start until about 9:15, and then did their thing in just fifteen-minutes.

War Party was another act I wasn’t expecting to like. I’m pretty confident I had seen them a couple years or so ago, and just didn’t care for them then. I think they’ve changed a little in that time, though.

I don’t recall a trombone being used, yet that was one instrument Chris Waldon added to many of the songs they squeezed into their 23-minutes on stage.

From a wicked bass solo on their first number (which Tyler Moore was responsible for), to a song that drummer Peter Marsh did most of the singing on, they kept you on your toes. Some of their pop/punk numbers were co-sung between lead singer and rhythm guitarist Cameron Smith and other band mates, and others saw Chris laying down the trombone to focus on the keyboard.

The constant was that the songs were always catchy and full of life, and they were getting some members of the crowd overly excited.

“Faster! Louder!” a couple of people shouted, prompting Cameron to say before a brand new song that he didn’t know how fast and loud it was. “But I don’t give a fuck,” he stated, dedicating the new tune to the one and only King Camel. Their closing number saw Cameron running the neck of his guitar along one of the cymbals, which made for a nice effect.

My thoughts on War Party from a few years ago and War Party now are completely different. They’ve found a style that really suits them, and they made it pretty hard not to love them this night. The show was energetic and fun, as I said, the music was pretty infectious, and with the different voices at their disposal, they managed to change things up often enough that you were constantly interested.

I’ve dismissed them over the years since my first encounter, but I won’t be doing that anymore.

They have several albums and singles to pick up over on BANDCAMP.

Back inside, Nite was having some trouble. Eventually, after nearly ten minutes of their set had been lost, they decided to play as a duo, as there were some technical difficulties with the drums.

“Hello, everybody. We are Nite, from Dallas,” one of the Mendes brothers announced, as they began to use the remaining 21-minutes they had.

The lead track from their debut album, “Are You Afraid?”, got things going; and I think pretty much everyone in the room felt a sudden primal urge to dance. Not that everyone did, but the music was so catchy that you had to move about in some regard, even if it was just swaying. Their electronic pop mixture was reminiscent of that of the 80’s new wave.

Kyle sat his bass down, while Myles ditched his guitar so they could just focus on their synthesizers (the “stands” for them were a couple of ironing boards, which I thought was pretty inventive). “The Waking” showed off their full electronic side, but they went back to the instruments as they wound things right into “City On Fire”. Even with the instruments, there was a real dreamy sound to the song, though there was also a good moment when the brothers stood next to each other as they jammed for a bit.

“This goes out to all of you, especially King Camel himself,” one of them said, before sending everyone into a frenzy with the unmistakable beginning to Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. They pulled of a great rendition of the beloved song; and with each of them doing some singing this night, they were able to do some killer co-singing at times on that one, as well as covering all the backing vocals.

That was definitely a highlight of their set; and now, they found themselves apologizing for their technical issues earlier, and how it cut into things. It was sad, especially knowing that they could have fit another song or two in, but stuff like that happens, and what are you going to do?

“We Were Strong” was another good one, and “On the Edge of Darkness” wrapped things up for them; and it was on that song that Myles found a point he could really get into it, and violently thrashed about.

Nite provided yet another highlight of my day at the King Camelversary. They offered another pleasant surprise; and compared to the other electronic bands, it was a good change of pace to see one who focused on a totally different area of the genre.

It would have been interesting to see them as a three-piece, but even as a makeshift duo they commanded the crowd, entertaining their old fans and making some new ones fall in love with them.

You can find their I Am Not Afraid record in iTUNES, as well as BANDCAMP. If you’d like to see them live, well, they’ll be back here at Dada on September 13th.

I then headed back outside, to see and hear Dead Mockingbirds, who had gotten off to a slightly early start and were just finishing what I believe was their opener.

“How you doing, Dallas?” asked singer and guitarist Kenneth Pritchard afterwards. As they had been doing all night, a couple of people shouted, almost demanding they play faster and louder. “We’re trying to,” Kenneth answered. “We’ve been here all day, fucking with those doors,” he said, pointing at the set of doors that led to and from the venue, and it took a while to get used to them, constantly confusing people on whether they should push or pull, and they often stuck, making it even trickier.

They kept barreling through their set, doing a track that had a great guitar solo worked in (it was the first of handful this night); and on that, the bass Trinidad Diaz was wielding really helped in accenting the other instruments. “We have merchandise for sale,” Kenneth remarked after another song, though he soon confessed, “I don’t remember where it is, though.”

Kenneth continued wailing on his axe, while Matthew Crain hammered away on the drums; and the smile he wore for pretty much the entire show let you know that he was in his happy place. “Are we getting fast enough yet?” Kenneth asked after a few more songs, one of which was an instrumental piece.

They were certainly getting there; and now, they had a brand new song for everyone. Kenneth began what was largely an instrumental jam, before Trinidad and Matt layered their instruments over a song that was titled “Jeffrey Brown”. It was pretty catchy, too. Kenneth pointed out the title upon finishing it, getting a laugh from nearly everyone, especially the promoter. I don’t know how seriously anyone took that, but after chatting with them later on this night, they did tell me that really is the title.

“You guys are just so good looking!” Kenneth exclaimed before their up-tempo version of “Munich”, which really got everyone going. The music tapered off, and then, with a speedy drum roll, Matt launched them into their final song.

Before this, it had been several months since the last time I had seen Dead Mockingbirds. Too long, in fact.

There were a few new songs this night, mixed with some of the others that, while they may not have been recorded, have still become fan favorites.

A Dead Mockingbird show is a fun one. There’s a lot of energy and great musicianship involved, all of which makes for a great concert experience. At least it did this night.

You can snag their singles in iTUNES, and they are currently working on a full record. Maybe it’ll be ready by the second King Camelversary. Also, you can find some more songs of theirs for free download on REVERBNATION.

That was the end of things outdoors, and now people headed back in for Cutter.

I had seen this two-piece electronic outfit before, and surprisingly, it was not at a KC show.

They set a nice atmosphere, supplying their own lights. So, while the house lights were completely out, the stage was illuminated by some high-powered clear light bulbs that shown on each member.

The duty of singing was often rotated, and drummer Jared Coffey handled it on their first song, using both his drum kit (which consists of only a few pieces) and the electronic drums, while Alex Velte hunched over some of the keys and synthesizers, banging his head along to the music.

They had a smoke machine at the ready, too, and before one song, a large cloud covered the stage, before slowly spilling out towards the audience. The band really is about the mood as much as the music and that smoke goes a long way for it.

“This is the most badass song I’ve ever listened to!” Jeff Brown shouted before one of the bands tracks; and during it, Alex grabbed the smoke machine and held it up, allowing it to billow out in every direction. They only slowed down when Alex had to go get his laptop — which he had left in the green room — and once he returned, he picked up a bass to give the rhythm of the next song more of a kick.

They were on a roll now, going right into their next song, and then jumping into the final number of their 28-minute long set.

Cutter knows a great concert isn’t just about the performance, but the overall aesthetic, and while it may be nothing fancy, the little elements they bring in make a huge difference.

They have a couple EP’s you can get over on BANDCAMP; and if you ever have a chance to go see them, take it. You won’t be disappointed.

For the first time all day, people actually had to wait on the music. Luckily, my wait was shortened since I stepped out on the patio and chatted with the guys from Dead Mockingbirds, right up until Sweet Spirit started.

The Austin-based band was just finishing their first song when I walked back in; and soon after, Sabrina Ellis thanked everyone for being there. Aside from the lead vocals, she also acted as the third guitarist for most of their set,; and they cranked out a couple more songs, which were primarily rock, though some even had little hints of soul thrown in.

“We’re here because we’re friends of Jeffrey’s!” Sabrina stated at one point, noting that he got them into some trouble last time they played one of his shows. “…I peed my own puke off the sidewalk,” she said, speaking of their last Dallas visit. The promoter was once again standing near me, enjoying the band, and when I asked if that was a true story, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

Andrew Cashen and Joshua Merry were then left as the only guitarists for a bit, which worked out for the best. Sabrina was better suited for the frontwoman role, as was seen on the next song, and after adding several lines to the track about how they were here for their friend Jeffrey, she grabbed her stretchy pants and hiked them, making a camel toe, before turning around and shaking her ass in Jeff’s face. If there was still any doubt that this was not a party, that solidified that it was.

Several more songs followed, and even with the tight conditions having six members on stage created, they still found enough room to move about. Bassist Jon Fichter walked back by Danny Lions’ drum kit on one song, propping his leg up on the bass drum; and while it was often masked by the roaring guitars and such, the keyboard Jake Knight was playing added a nice underlying element.

After finding out their time was almost up, the six of them had to figure out what final songs to do, and there were some split opinions. They compromised, though, first doing “Rebel, Rebel”, which had nearly all the band singing different parts of the song, often handling some of the lines in rounds. The song Sabrina was adamant they play was “Take Me to a Party”, which was one awesome track, and seemed appropriate to end with.

Sweet Spirit provided another memorable set here at the King Camelversary. The performance was untamed and very primal, just like any rock show should be. They kept it all quite fun, too (until this night, I had never seen a band member parade around on stage showing off a camel toe).

It was all highly entertaining. Even the music was a little more original sounding, and different from most of the stuff that’s out there.

I’m already looking forward to seeing them again, whenever they might come back this way.

After that final rock band, the night ended on an electronic note, thanks to Blackstone Rangers.

They eased everyone who was still there (which was a decent crowd) into their show with some softer songs, that more heavily relied on the synth and keys Ruth Smith was playing, along with singing the gauzy vocals. However, the deeper they got into their second number, the more they started showing off their rock side, with guitarist Derek Kutzer and drummer Daniel Bornhorst growing louder and more fierce with their playing.

That seemed to be when people really started getting into it; and they followed it with another song that started off pretty light, though experienced a sudden sharp rise in the music. “Now comes the good part of our set,” Ruth remarked shortly after, and on the song that followed, Derek wound up breaking a string. Luckily, it didn’t happen until late, and he was able to replace it during the next break.

Ruth killed time by making clear how unsatisfied she was with the mic stand. Indeed, the fact that the microphone was secured by a clip seemed odd, and just in watching them this night you could tell it had already created some setbacks. She made that known, saying she didn’t know who thought that would be a good idea, and when she did remove the mic to move around a bit, it complicated things when she had to work to put the mic back. “It fucking sucks,” she said at one point, also calling it a “joke”.

No, she was not at all fond of it.

They had a friend, Ben, join them on a song, who rounded out the outfit with a bass; and then threw in a couple more songs, one of which Derek just shredded on.

Blackstone Rangers was yet another band on this bill who doesn’t fit the mold of what I typically like, but actually, I enjoyed them even more this night than I had the first time around (and I liked them then.)

They pull off the electronic rock style quite well, even adding some shoegaze elements into it. The crowd really liked it this night, and it just felt like a good note to end on.

Their next show is going to be at Hailey’s in Denton on September 19th.They also have a tour of the Mid-West and West Coast starting in late October through mid November. Those dates can be found HERE. You can also find their EP’s on BANDCAMP.

This was one helluva day. Kudos to King Camel for putting together such a sweet spectacle of a lineup. From start to finish, there was never a dull moment, and all day long, this did feel like a party.

Not just a party for his success in the past year, but also a party for anyone and everyone who has had any part in that, which includes the fans who have supported him by coming out to all the shows. In turn, he booked this show for the fans as much as he did himself, with the end goal being that everyone would just enjoy themselves and have a good time. Mission accomplished.