Saturday, February 9th, 2013 – “…Rock ‘n’ Roll Gets the Demons Out…”

If you read my previous blog entry, then you might recall I said that, that show was a bit eclectic. While it was, it has nothing on the show that went down at Tomcats West this night.

Yeah, I made a VERY rare trip over to Fort Worth. Nothing against the city, but living north of Dallas means that logistically it’s just not convenient to get to. An exception was made for this show, though, which featured two of my favorite area acts.

The first act of the night was an acoustic duo by the name, Myrick. I believe that was the last name of the singer of the group, who played an acoustic guitar and was accompanied by another acoustic guitarist (or maybe it was a bassist. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention.)

With incredible subpar vocals, I quickly lost interest. Their set at least seemed to go by quickly, but by far the worst part of it was the end when he did a parody of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Obviously, it was set to the same tune, though he called his parody, “Don’t Cum In My Eye”. Evidently I’m still juvenile enough to find a bit of humor in that (and by “bit”, I mean a VERY minuscule amount), but no amount of humor could save it. It only lasted about a minute, before he abruptly stopped and said, “That’s it…”, then walked off stage. Oh, wait, I think I get why he only needed a minute to do the song now…

Meridian was the first actual band of the night, though they, or specifically vocalist, Tim Ziegler, looked a little different. He was without his long hair and beard, and was almost unrecognizable at first glance, looking more like he did when I first met him nearly seven years ago, when he fronted the band Darby.

“Re-digress” kicked off their 38-minute long set. Somehow, I didn’t notice right away when it happened, and then all of sudden I realized guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved, drummer, Joe Maurer, and Tim were the only guys on stage. They handled it well, and didn’t act like they were down a band mate, finishing the song strong, and then Tim asked what was up with Chris Gentry. Apparently, he had broken the main string on his bass, which was what left him incapacitated for most of that song, and even a few minutes after. That meant Tim had to make some small talk, and he first mentioned they had played here a several months before and that they’d like to get back a little more often. That was about all the topics he had prepared. “…Chris, hurry up. This is getting uncomfortable for me…” he said, succeeding at being funny and sounding nervous. Chris finally rejoined them, having borrowed a bass from one of the other bands. They were then able to move on, and began one of their most rocking numbers, “All Hands”. They followed it with one of their newest songs, and afterwards took a momentary pause where Tim killed some time. “Listen, I don’t want anyone here tagging me in any shit…” he said. He proceeded to say that he was technically at work, and had taking time off to perform this show, meaning he couldn’t be drinking, and he didn’t want any photos to make it look otherwise. So, once that was cleared up, they tore into “Nights Like This”, which was pretty flawless, except toward the end, when Chris again had to leave with some bass issues. “…We lost our bassist again…” Tim said when the song was over. Mark said something, to which Tim responded, “Oh yeah, we don’t need him for the first part of this next song.” The current four piece then started “Starts and Ends”. “You told them all just what they can do. You got the shortest part of the straw you drew… I draw the curtain back and you take a bow. Did I catch you off guard or get it right somehow?…” sang Tim on the first verse. This was the first time I’ve seen them since getting their new EP, meaning this was the first time I really knew that song since they rewrote it over a year ago. I had missed singing along to that one more than I had realized, and it still stands out as my favorite Meridian song. Chris once again got back on stage pretty early on in that one, and stuck around for another newer song, “Lazy Eye”, which has a more dominant rhythm section. Tim couldn’t go without poking fun of the situation, and told Chris he might be getting a pink slip the next day, then said they might be in the market for a new bass player. Chris didn’t have a verbal retort to that, though he did act like he was about knee Tim right in the crotch. “Train” brought things down a few notches and perfectly showcases the bands softer side, as it is a beauty of a tune, but is still something you can easily rock out to. Tim announced they had one last song, a Mark played the first notes of “Hey Lover”, before Joe busted in on the drums, really getting it underway.

It was far from a perfect show, but Chris deserves some major props for doing the best he could in an unlikely situation. When he was on stage, he gave it his all as usual. It was just an unfortunate circumstance, and really, how many times have you seen a bass player break a string? I’ve seen nearly five hundred concerts over the years, and I can only recall one band who suffered from a broken bass string while performing.

Plus, Shannon and Mark put on a thoroughly entertaining show by themselves, so they were able to draw attention away from everything, and Tim is still one of the best singers and performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Point is, in the end it worked out alright.

Give their debut, self-titled EP a listen, and if you like it, then buy it in ITUNES. And while they don’t have anything scheduled right now, keep an eye on their REVERBNATION PAGE, because they’ll most likely be doing a show sometime within the next couple of months.

A band by the name of Silhouette was next up, and they brought the people, which I took as a positive sign. I mean, if a band can pull fifty plus people, they have to be good, right? The answer is yes… But not to everybody.

I don’t know what the whole deal was, but this was billed as their “comeback show”, and from hearing them talk, it seemed like the band had been almost completely reformed since they last played. I don’t know what they were like before, but now, they were a very hardcore metal act. My interest was lost immediately, especially because their first song was lyrically rapped, in the vein of Linkin Park. If that’s what works for them, okay, but I felt it seemed like they were stuck in a time warp. I mean, that’s been done, many times over at that. Luckily, all their music didn’t sound like that, but with all the screaming, I couldn’t even pretend to like them.

Their set dragged on, and I was relieved when they finally finished.

I mentioned this was an odd billing of bands, and here is where it got really interesting. There are a couple of genres that could pull off playing after a hardcore metal band, like a hardrock outfit, or maybe even a rock group, but Paco Estrada and his band are neither of those. In fact, they’re the polar opposite.

Paco’s backing band looked mostly the same as the last time I had seen him, with Scotty Isaacs manning the keyboard/piano, and there was still a drummer, Irish, whose drum kit was fairly small, consisting mainly of a few toms and a snare. But then you had Joel Bailey, who has been added as the bassist. Along with Pacos’ acoustic guitar, it makes for some lovely music, but a type that quickly pushed all the metal heads out the door.

A lot of Paco’s newer stuff is making it into his sets these days, like the opener, “American Girls”. Over the last decade or so, Paco has written some real gems in all the various bands he’s played with, but that one is by far one of the best. There’s a certain amount of nostalgia the song conveys, while it bears more of a folk sound.  I believe they followed it with another new song, though Paco has been known to play some covers too, so it could go either way. Next, I know for sure they did a cover song, doing a more minimalist rendition of The Cars, “Who’s Gonna Drive You Home Tonight?”. They do a mean cover of it, and put a pretty unique spin on a classic song. They ran through a couple more, with the first of those two really sticking out to me. I don’t think it was a cover, though it sounded like it could pass as one. I mean that as a compliment, because if it wasn’t, then it sounded authentic enough that it could have been written by one of the greats. As usual, some of Paco’s fan favorites had been saved for last, and he began to pluck away at the strings on his guitar, leading into “Breaking Down”. “You grab your shovel and your digging axe, ‘cause you have to be the first in line to bury the past. You put a smile on and try to believe it, but I know how much it hurts you to leave it…” he crooned. This is also one he’s known for adding portions of cover songs to, one of the best of which I’ve always thought was a Peter Gabriel song he used to tack on, but tonight, I think I found a new favorite. After one of the later choruses from his original, Paco belted out the chorus of U2’s “One”, “…You say, one love, one life when it’s one need in the night. One love, we get to share it, leaves you baby if you don’t care for it…” There’s always a deep passion in Pacos’ voice when he sings, but it seemed magnified on this song. It bleed out onto his voice, especially on the line, “…You say love is a temple, love a higher law. Love is a temple, love the higher law. You ask me to enter, but then you make me crawl. And I can’t be holding’ on to what you got, when all you got is hurt…” as well as the chorus that followed. I was awestruck. That was one of the most amazing cover songs I have ever heard, and I know this may sound like sacrilege, but while I have never seen U2 live, I can’t imagine Bono could make his own song connect with and touch the audience the way Paco did this night. It didn’t seem like they had been up there anytime, but already they had arrived at the final song of their 38-minute long set, “Haunting Me”, which featured pieces of another cover song, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.

Paco’s music has gone through a lot of changes over the years, from playing with rock bands, to spending some time as a solo artist, but hopefully this latest band of his will stick around for a little while. Together they make what is probably the most unique sounding band Paco has had since One Love, and it’s different than most any other type of music out there. It’s gorgeous, and will most likely take your breath away.

Paco has a ton of records from his past, most of which can be bought via BANDCAMP. As for shows, I know he has one coming up on Saturday, March 2nd, where he will play at his old Dallas stomping grounds, The Curtain Club.

After a strange musical combination like that, going from a metal band to a very chill mostly acoustic act, it only made sense to wrap up the night with one final rock band, which was Awake in Theory.

Terry Kimmel began the band show with some hypnotic chords on his guitar, while he walked around the stage. After a minute, Eric Hawkens, who was out of sight, started singing, and eventually made his way on stage from stage left. Soon after was when their first song, “Barely Breathing”, really took off, as drummer, Raymond Chambers, bassist Adam Garcia, and the rhythm guitarist, Brad McCain, joined in. The song is fantastic and one of my favorites of theirs. It also works as a great opener, easing you into it with its slower start, and before you know it, they’ve hooked you. They proceeded to reel everyone in with songs like “Let Go” and “Playing the Victim”, but unfortunately, “everyone” wasn’t as many people as they deserved to have watching them. Like I said, the metal heads had left during the previous act, and now it looked like the only people who were still there were ones who were already Awake in Theory fans. Eric pointed out that, that wasn’t a problem with them, though. “…We’re just happy to play music…” he said, “…Especially when we get to play after Paco Estrada…” he added. They got back to the show with “Dangerous”, a song that saw Brad tear off into a killer guitar solo. Raymond pounded out a brief drum solo before their next song, “Innocence for the Innocent”, followed by their anthem of sorts for anyone serving in the military, “Hero You Hate”. Before starting it, Eric asked everyone to thank anyone they knew who was in the service, and then he mentioned something else. “…For anyone whose seen an Awake in Theory show recently, you know my brother was deployed.” He said. “Well, he’s home now…” You could tell he was excited and relieved by that, and for good reason. That tune is another highlight of their shows in my opinion, and once it was done, they cut loose a bit. Eric mentioned that they come from all over the area, like Frisco. “…He’s from Bowie…” he said, pointing at one of his band mates, quickly following it with something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, it’s not nice to say anyone’s from Bowie.” That got a laugh from all of their fans who had stuck around. Topic of conversation then switched to Raymond, who drives down to all of their shows from Lawton, Oklahoma, and Eric jokingly said he was the one they needed to work on and get to move here. I believe it was this next and final song that they said they would be recording soon, with work on an actually record to follow shortly after. It was “Daddy’s Little Girl”, which will serve as their lead single, and it capped off their 36-minute long set.

It was a great set, and personally, I thought they were better this night than a couple weeks before when I saw them in Dallas. They didn’t let the lack of a crowd affect them, instead putting on a show like they were playing in front of forty to fifty people, like any professional band should.

They were fun and lively, with everybody carrying their own weight. Adam really brought it this night, and owned it on the bass, while Terry and Brad also often stepped up to the forefront of the stage, taking over the spotlight and shredding on their guitars. It was just very well balanced, and also, they know how to work the audience and get everyone excited.

Their next show is going to be at Trees on Sunday, March 24th, where they will open for Adrenaline Mob and Nothing More. It will probably be at least one of the biggest shows they’ve done to date, and I’ll be willing to bet they’ll be even more intense than usually at that one.

They offered a great way to end the night, and despite me not really caring for a couple of the acts on the bill, this show was still well worth the drive to Fort Worth.

Saturday, August 4th, 2012 – The First Annual Broadcasting for Boobies

Broadcasting for Boobies. The idea was conceived by Chrys Starr of WhiskeyBoy Radio: East Coast in the early part of this year. Well, at least doing something to help raise money for breast cancer research was his idea, which Matt “WhiskeyBoy” then expanded upon, deciding to this concert.

This event had turned into quite an ordeal putting together, first of with the venue change, moving from a worthless place that is no longer opened in Arlington to Tomcats West in Fort Worth, and then the fact that so many bands dropped from it. It was originally planned to be a two-night concert, but the first night got scrapped, and then four out of the six bands that were scheduled for this Saturday night show canceled, leaving us scrambling to try to find replacements. Even the day of it looked like it was only going to be a four band night, until tow acts suddenly stepped up to the plate to fill the vacated spots.

My parents and I arrived shortly after seven, and the rest of the crew was recording a special WhiskeyBoy Radio Podcast (Listen to it HERE. Also, check out this epic DOUBLE SHOT PODCAST.) They wrapped it up soon enough, and after hanging out for a bit to kill time, it was time for the first act to hit the stage.

Two acts joined this show just hours before, and one of those acts was a twelve year old girl named, Mikayla. Matt’s wife introduced her, reading Mikaya’s story to everyone, which was sad and touching. For starters, doctors had found a growth in her throat, and they weren’t sure if it was cancerous or not. So, to be on the safe side, they removed her thyroid. I assume partly due do that unfortunate situation, it had been two years since she last performed on a stage. If you’re not doing the math while reading this, that means she was ten years old the last time she sang publicly like this. And I’m sure this was a much different venue than what she had performed at in the past.

She was visibly nervous when she first got on stage, and while there was only a handful of people there at this time, we chose to hang back from the stage so as to not add to her stress. She did a short set, and it was all covers of Joan Jett tunes, such as “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You”. Like I said, she was nervous, but soon as she opened her mouth to sing the first song, it was evident she had no real reason to be. She had an incredible voice, and if you weren’t paying attention to who was singing on stage and just focusing on the voice itself, you never would have guessed it was a twelve year old. She got more comfortable with each song, and by the final one she was asking everyone to come out to the stage, even leaving it for a bit as she walked around amongst the handful of people who had gone up there.

It was a nice little set, and she rocked those cover songs. Check her out if you ever get a chance.

The first actual band of the night was Enamored. And on a random side note, I’m not sure if this is the same Enamored, or rather, a new incarnation of the band, but I remember seeing the name on various venue websites a few years back. Anyway, they started their 31 minute long set with “Empty”, a shorter song that began more melodic, but got heavier, with some hefty drumbeats from Robert P. Guitarist, Aaron, started them on their next song, “Bring Down”, and then they took things down a bit with “Better Off Alone”. That was the song that solidified Jules outstanding voice, which was deeper and very powerful, really shining through on that song. Most of their songs clock in at three minutes or less, but they got back into the real rock swing with their longest song, “Escape”, which has a dynamic rhythm section, which also includes bassist, Robert. They really hit a lull with the song, “Free”, which showcased a completely different side of the band from their other songs, and then did what was probably the most electric song of their set, “Slaves and Toys”, where they all really let loose and owned it on stage. By that time they weren’t sure how much time they had left, and after asking the sound guy, they found out they had enough for one last song, another all-out rocker, which I believe was “Release”.

It was a great, high-energy set they did, and a great way to open the rock floodgates for this show. Great band with some harder rock music and stellar vocals. Go check them out if you get a chance, they’ll be back in Fort Worth on September 22nd at The Rail Club.

After them was another act who had just joined the show earlier in the afternoon. They were a trio by the name The Sonic Underground, which I, nor anyone else for that matter, had ever heard of. The funny thing, though, was after they got on stage I recognized their singer/guitarist, William Carlson, as a guy I frequently see at shows by another band, The Orange. At one of their shows they even got William on stage to sing one of their songs, and I thought, “Man, that guy has a pretty good voice.” Turns out, he’s putting it to use, too.

They did a shorter set, maybe 30 minutes, if not a little less, but in some aspects I think they might have been the best band on the show. Well, let me put that a different way. They were certainly the underdogs of the show, seeing no one in attendance was familiar with them, and that was why I was so impressed, because I had no clue what to expect. And for the record, they managed to blow me away.

They are all under twenty-one, but their musicianship was well beyond their years, flat-out owning it on their instruments. Their original songs were great, too, and at one point William told the crowd, “You might know this next song.” He then proceeded to play the first few chords of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”, which they killed.

I can’t elaborate much on their set, at least not to the extent I like to, and I can’t really promote them, since they have no pages on the interwebs. But I can say this, if you happen to see this promising, young band doing a show near you, go see them.

Triple SP was next up, and I will share with you their interesting story of getting on the Broadcasting for Boobies show. See, they played here just a few weeks prior to this, and billed that show as their last one for three months or so, since the bands guitarist and singer, Derek Procter, was going out with another band of his, and they just decided to take a little hiatus. Then, in posting that we needed some bands, drummer, Alex Lanz, contacted me telling me they’d be interested, and he told me even though he had repeatedly seen the date was August 4th, he thought it was a different date, so told me they would be interested. By the time he realized otherwise, we were planning on them playing, and they said since we had, had trouble with other bands dropping, the last thing they wanted to do was back out on us.

All that deserves some major props in my opinion, and to fill the spot of their other band mate, they enlisted the help of Bryan Motley from the band, The Aurora Crash, to play guitar, while John-Marc Stanley filled the spot of vocalist, and at times added another guitar into the mix. So, this wasn’t a true Triple SP, but it was going to be a very unique one.

Alex got their 37 minute set going, leading them into their first song, “I Want it All”. That was a brand new song that will be on their forthcoming record, and they followed it with another newer one, “Symptom”, which Bryan started shredding on to begin. His band played one of our RYA Entertainment shows a few months back, and he’s a good guitarist, but man, he really cut loose on these songs and just destroyed them. “Never Again” came next, which Brian Scheid started with a sweet, low end bass riff., and then a couple more form their “Transmissions” album, “Step Aside” and I believe, “The Walk”, which is just a true blue rock song, that is also straight and to the point. Another new tune came next, and towards the end of it, Brian stumbled back, falling on his back, and as he laid there, he continued to nail all the bass notes. It seemed almost natural, like he meant to do it, but a couple songs later the same thing happened, and he told everyone, “That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.” Alex then wanted to clarify, “That is not the first time Brian has ever falling down on stage.” He conceded to that, but said the was the first time he had ever fallen down during that specific song. They next did “Behind Your Back”, then one more new tune, which they pointed out they could release at anytime they wanted, but are “holding it at ransom” until they get 500 “likes” on their Facebook page. So go give it a like if you haven’t, because the sounded great, and I would very much like to hear the recording of it. Then, to cap things off, Brian stated that they like to do a different cover song at each show, and while I had no clue what song it was, it sounded pretty good.

It was a really good set they did. I know I’ve been wanting to see them for awhile, after realizing they knew who I was and even gave me a copy of their record, all of which is a humbling experience. Alex and Brian are great at what they do, Bryan added a nice flare to the show, and John-Marc Stanley sang quite well. I’m gonna have to make it to another show sometime, though. A real Triple SP show where they are just a trio… And one where I can hopefully write something a little better than this. But I guess that’s the main point, after seeing this show, I do want to see more.

They’ll be back her at Tomcats on August 25th, and also on December 31st. They even have a date that is probably tentatively set for March 16th in Austin for SXSW. On that day they’ll be playing the Heart of Texas Rockfest. And of course don’t forget to check out their “Transmissions” album in iTunes, or some of their new songs on their REVERBNATION PAGE. You can even get a free download of “I Want it All” on the latest ROCK COMPILATION from Torch Entertainment.

This was a co-headlining sort of night, and up first in that spot was Meridian. They kicked off their performance with “Re-digress”, and I must say, I was more fond of this new version this second time around then I was the first. I always thought any censorship they gave to it would make it loose its edge or something, but it hasn’t, especially with the slightly edgier music bed it. And even if the original chorus isn’t used as much, it still lingers, as towards the end, vocalist, Tim Ziegler, belts out, “Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks…”. The followed it with another heavy-hitter, “All Hands On Deck”, and then a new song, which the name on the setlist read, “30 Seconds”. It was pretty killer, and out of the handful of new songs I’ve heard them do, it’s heads and tails better than the other stuff, which is saying a lot, because their older material is much better than most bands. You can even hear a tighter, more cohesive sound in the new tunes. Still, it’s hard to compare to songs like “Nights”, which came next, and the song that followed, which guitarist, Shannon Nedved, started. “Starts and Ends” came next, and afterwards some instruments needed to be tuned, putting Tim in charge of killing time. He wasn’t sure what to say at first, then pointed me out. “Does everyone know Jordan?” he asked, saying he has know me for several years (over six at this point), then went on to thank Matt and everyone else at WhiskeyBoy Radio for putting together this event. “I don’t want to bring the mood down, but I just got back from Chicago…” he said, saying he had gone up there for an uncle’s funeral. “…And he died from cancer, so this a cause I fully support…” Tim has said before he doesn’t like filling dead air, but he did a good job, and after that they were ready for their next song, another new one, “Lazy Eye”. Mark Sims really let loose on that song, shredding on his guitar. They took it almost straight into the next song, and one of their slowest, “Train”, which shows off the bands softer side, as well as the lighter side of Tims’ voice, and is quite a pretty song. They brought things back up with “Wrecking Ball”, and then ended their 30 minute set with the usual, “Hey Lover”, where both Mark and bassist, Chris Gentry, where jumping around, perfectly timing it to Joe Maurer’s drumbeats.

I said about their last show that they weren’t firing all cylinders that night. Well, that was far from the case this night. In fact, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen them do. They were all on top of their game this night, putting on a very lively performance, both as individuals and as a group. Also, with each show, Joe meshes better and better with them, proving to be a sensational addition to the group.

I’ve said this the past few times I’ve seen them, and hopefully I won’t be saying it for much longer. They will have their debut EP coming out in the near future, but until then, go to their REVERBNATION PAGE to listen to a couple tracks from it. Lastly, stay tuned to that page or their FACEBOOK PAGE for details on their future shows.

Closing out this benefit concert was the one and only, Night Gallery. Matt and I helped to introduce them, and they wasted no time after that, as lead guitarist, Nathan Hanlon, started them into their 40 minute set by rocking out the intro of “My Friend Pretend”. Drummer, Randall “Duckie” Etherton, finished that song out with some quick beats, then rolled it into the next one “Dirty Side”, which the two guitarists, Nathan and Jeremy Root, and bassist, Mikey Auringer, hastily tore into. Them going from one song right into the next was what had made their CD release show at the end of June so amazing… Or at least even more amazing than they already are, and I loved that they were following the same pattern this night. Duckie again segued them right into the next song, as Patrick ”Otter” Gonzales told everyone they’d need some help with their next tune, and wanted everyone who knew “She Runs” to sing along to it. They took a short breather after that, though it didn’t last long, as Jeremy began one of my favorites of the bands, “Separation Anxiety”, during which Otter danced with the mic stand as he belted out the chorus, “But you’re fighting a battle you can’t win, against something that’s never been…”. They slowed things down for a minute by bringing that one into “Lynne”, but picked the pace back up with “Crazy Brave”, which was then followed by “Without Regret”.  That one was wound into the second single from their new record, “The Tide”, and afterwards they took a few moments to thank everyone who had a hand in planning the event, before getting slightly off topic and thanking other things, but at this point I can’t remember what. They started to wrap things up with the semi-chilling, “Untimely Demise”, moved right along into “Mr. Ripper”, and truly saved the best for last, as Duckie pounded away with the opening drum part of “The Signal”. “One! Two Three!” he shouted before the first time, changing up the counting each time he did it, to Spanish and other languages.

Night Gallery was an incredible way to end the night, and I thought this show of theirs rivaled their CD release, which was by far the best show I’ve seen them do. Yet in some ways, this tonight was even better, I think because Nathan and Mikey seemed more comfortable (this was only, like, their second live show as part of the band). Plus they were all pretty lively, with Jeremy and Nathan jumping around on occasion.

They have quite a few shows coming up over the next few months, with the next Dallas gig being on September 14th at The Boiler Room. On October 6th they will be down in San Marcos, TX at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, then return to the D-FW metroplex for a show at The Grotto in Fort Worth on October 12th. Then, in November they have dates at Fast Eddie’s Billiards in Waco on the 3rd then they’ll be at The Rock Star Bar in Denison, TX on the 24th. You can also pick up your copy of “Loud as the Sun” at any of those shows, or in ITUNES.

It was an incredible and successful night, as we raised nearly $1,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I want to again thank all the bands/acts who played this. So many of you hopped on last minute and helped save the event, and thank you to the other two for keeping the scheduled date.

I also want to apologize to all the acts for this blog being VERY sub-par in my opinion. The epic weekend the WhiskeyBoy Radio crew had set me pretty far back on my blogs, and my memory isn’t as crystal clear writing this nearly two weeks after the show.

Oh, and the second annual benefit show will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which Chyrs will put together. You know, if anyone reading this wants to make a road trip. Word is the third one will be in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Friday, June 15th, 2012 – The RYA Launch Party

This night marked the official launch party of RYA Entertainment and hosting this monumental event was Tomcats West in Fort Worth.

I couldn’t help but think of how quickly things can change in a week’s time, though. Or even just a few days for that matter.

By the time this show rolled around we had realized there was a difference between the three members of RYA and the direction we wanted things to go in, subsequently parting ways with Katie Boyd. (View THIS press release for more information)

That wouldn’t mar the excellent show that we had assembled, though.

After losing the original opening band we had, we thought we’d just be down to a five band bill. That is until The Circle stepped up to take the opening spot just days earlier.

I knew nothing about them, but from what I listened to online they sounded killer. Turns out, the songs they had/have available online are with their old vocalist, so it ended up not being a true representation of what they are like now.

They started throwing down with their first song, and afterwards, vocalist, Don Mills, announced their next tune. “This song is called, My Trip to the Desert” he bellowed, as guitarists, Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, ripped into the song. There was a funny moment in between it and the next song, as Don picked up a shaker, and began talking to someone, which I believe was the sound guy. “Remember when I used to get a guitar to play? This is what I get now…” he said, holding up the shaker. “…Apparently I just wasn’t good [on the guitar] and nobody every told me.” he finished. He started shaking away as drummer, Marc Berry, started into “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”. They got three more in, blending the latter two right into each other, before squeezing one final song into their 25 minute set, which I think was “Sleep On It”.

These guys were astounding. I mean, for an opening band, they did at least as good a job as most headliners do. The sad thing was almost no one was there to witness it, which is just a shame because they deserved so much more than the meager crowd they had. Especially since the caliber of performance they put on was enough to entertain a few hundred people, easy. Craig, Alan, Marc and bassist, Kenneth Henrichs, owned the stage, while Don was a true force to be reckoned with. Comparing the recordings I had listened to of the old incarnation of the band with seeing them live here, he (Don) has a much harder voice, which is a better fit with the alternative rock sound that the band is. This was also only their second show with this current line-up, which I was surprised to hear, because they were tight to the point it looked like they had been playing together for years.

They have a couple of shows lined up at the moment. The first will be July 21st at The Aardvark in Fort Worth, while the next one will be in Denison, TX at Rock Star Bar on August 10th.

Ursa took the stage next and began their short 26 minute long set with what was a new song to me, titled, “Fantasy”. That song was incredible, especially with the performance they put on to accompany it. Vocalist, Michael Keeney, announced their next song, which was “Aim to Please”. They kept right on going with another song from their self-titled record, as Michael said, “This is, This Is Your Captain Speaking”, as drummer, Brian Sumler, started pounding away at the song with guitarists, Jovan Santos and Dave Perez, and bassist, Pat Llull, joined in. There’s a lengthy pause is this song that could have one thinking the song is over, and when they reached that part Michael held up his finger, in the universal “wait a second” hand language, as they soon ripped back into the song. They did a couple more new(er) ones, one of which I think I heard them say was called “Harpoon”, while the other was “Make My Day”. One of those they said was about getting physical with a person, and Michael noted that it was of course “in the consensual way.” After it, they then had one song left, and then their set was done.

I wish they had gotten more time, because I was REALLY enjoying them. I’ve seen them only a few times before, but have never been impressed with them as I was this night. Everything was spot on and precise, and I really like the formula that most of their songs follow, where Michael’s voice is a little more relaxed on the versus and then soars to life at each chorus.

Their next show will be on July 6th at the main room of the House of Blues in Dallas, and best of all, it’s FREE. Go to the bands FACEBOOK PAGE, send them a message with your name and mailing address and how many tickets you want, and they’ll mail them to you. They’re playing with some other astounding bands that night, too. So don’t miss out on this free night of rock. Also, you can download their entire debut, self-titled record on their REVERBNATION PAGE for free.

Next on the bill was the Austin based, Done Deal, who is currently the only band managed by RYA Entertainment. They classify themselves as Alternative/Fusion, which is true. They do have an alternative sound, and the vocals are the fusion part, as they are done in a hip-hop style. Hip-Hop in a genre that I’ve never been able to get into, and in listening to the band’s music online, I just had never been able to get into it. But in the live setting bands can be completely different, and I was hoping that would be the case for Done Deal. It was…

As soon as they started you knew you were watching something special, as they plowed through their first two songs, going from one right into the other. They did another song before vocalist, Luckie, said their next song was called “Time for Change”, as an audio clip of what sounded like a speech from former President George W. Bush played in the background. Luckie then asked who all smoked, and one person of the small handful of people they had drawn towards the stage said, “Only when I drink.” “Oh, we ain’t talking about cigarette’s…” Luckie told, noting that this song was about “the herb”, and could have possible been “I’m So High”. Their DJ, Kold Kurt, killed it during this song, and he wasn’t the only one who had some time in the spotlight on this tune. “Our drummer wants to do something for y’all. Is that cool?” Luckie asked, as he and his other band mates stepped back on the stage, getting out of the way. Justin then broke into a minutes long drum solo that was nothing short of epic. There were a few different times it seemed like he might be done with it, but he just kept on, his arms almost a blur at times. Everyone got back at the forefront of the stage as Justin rolled that song right into their next one, a cover of  Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name”, which they knocked out of the park. “We’ve got one song left. This is called I Rock Hip-Hop.” declared Luckie, as he started spitting out the words, “…I rock hip-hop all the way to the top. Not gonna stop till the number one spot, ‘cause I rock hip-hop…”, to the song that would end their 34 minute set.

Best band of the night? I would say so. His style of singing might not be what personally appeals to me, but there’s no denying that Luckie slayed as a frontman, often standing with one arm behind his back while he delivered the lines. As for guitarist, Sam, he could shred like no one’s business when he wanted to, and bassist, Kevin, had a good swagger going on.

You can download a few of their songs for free by going to their REVERBNATION PAGE and catch them back here at Tomcats West on August 3rd for the RYA Entertainment/WhiskeyBoy Radio produced show, Broadcasting for Boobies, which will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Another out of town band was next, as Downsiid took the stage. They began with a cool intro that DJ AkirA began, spinning some turntables and stuff. The whole band soon filed on stage, and that was when things really got underway. Jason Atwood’s voice was stellar, and there were more than a few songs where DJ AkirA left his turntable/keyboard and helped Jason sing a few songs, adding a rap style to the tunes, giving them a very distinct sound. Guitarists, Jeff Scott and George Dell, and bassist, Jason Quintero, helped carry the performance, putting on an incredibly intense, high-energy show, and the same could be said for drummer, Rich Burgos. I wish I could talk more about them, but I didn’t know any of the songs they played, sans a very unexpected but sensational sounding cover of “When Doves Cry” by Prince.

They have several albums available to purchase in iTunes, which includes their newest, “Life of Lies”, “The Evolution of Ghetto Rock” and more. Their current show schedule is as follows: June 29TH at The Railhead in Lawton, Oklahoma. June 30the at The Rail Club in Fort Worth. And July 14th at Fitzgerald’s in San Antonio.

The main attraction of the night was Kennedy, and well… There’s just something about them that I’ve never been quite able to get into, and still couldn’t tonight. I have grown fond of their song “Lust in a 4x6 Frame”, which was a highlight of their set, but still, it’s like it just failed (or fails) to click with me. Their set did get cut a little short, as they evidently had a cover planned, but scratched it so they could unveil a brand new song.

You can find both of the bands albums, the full-length, “Diaries: Volume I”, and their EP, “Set It Off”, on iTunes. Their next show is slated for July 13th at the Curtain Club in Dallas for a event put on by Texas Music Unites.

Last up for the night was RedShift, whom I was looking forward to finally seeing again, especially since it had been around eight months since the last show I caught. They started their 37 minute long set with “Don’t Run Away”, which had vocalist, Tommy Barker, adding a third guitar to the mix. As the song ended, though, he took it off and set it aside to focus on what he really excels at, being a true frontman. They did another song that I was unfamiliar with, and rounded it right into the next one, as I believe Jake Cox started shredding away at his guitar, with the drums and fellow guitarist, Chris Hathcock, soon joining the song. “That song’s called Pulling Through.” Tommy said when it was finished, who proceeded to set up their next song. I didn’t understand all of what he said, but it was something about 2012 and the whole thing with the Mayan calendar predicting the world would end, though I think he noted he wasn’t so sure about all that, but that the next song could fit with all that. Clay Wise started in with a great drum solo before they broke into “Down With A Grin”. The song does fit along the lines of what he talked about, such as the opening line, “Here we are, the end is closer today…”, but I have a feeling that there’s a little more depth to the song than being about the Mayan doomsday. They did another song I wasn’t familiar with, but had a sweet guitar solo from Jake, and then Clay segued it into one of their heaviest numbers, “Red And Black”. They are certainly more of a hard rock band, but this is the best example of that, with Tommy letting out some killer screams that are downright gritty. During their next song was when things started to go awry, as Jake experienced some guitar trouble and wasn’t a main part of the song. They kept right on with it, though, and didn’t let these technical difficulties stop them. At this point, bassist, Alex Cantrell, briefly mentioned everything anyone needed to know about the band, like where to find them online and where to purchase a digital copy of their EP, before they started their final song. Jake was still hindered during that song, finally unplugging his guitar and walking over to stage right to use Tommy’s amp, which seemed to work fine, but that was only for the final minutes.

Despite the issues there at the end, I still thought it was a great set. The last time I saw RedShift they were still a fairly new band who had only recently released their first ever record. They were quite good, but you could tell they were still new. But tonight, I could quickly tell that they had tightened up. They were all much more in-tune with each other and appeared more comfortable on stage then the last time I had seen them. They just a fantastic job of bringing the rock, and are truly a force to be reckoned with.

You can, and should, check out their EP, “The Awakening”, on iTunes, and as of right now their next show will be a hometown one in Denison, TX on August 10th at the Rock Star Bar.

From the music standpoint, I’d say the official RYA launch party was a HUGE success, as every band did an outstanding job and I want to say thank you once again for playing the event. Other than that, everything was pretty much on par for what I had imagined. We were far from selling the place out, but still had an okay turnout.

The next RYA Entertainment event will be on August 3rd and 4th right here at Tomcats West and will the Broadcasting for Boobies benefit show that was mentioned a little bit above. ALL proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and we have some awesome talent lined up to play, so don’t miss out!

We also did have a show at The Aardvark on July 6th, and while we have dropped it as far as being directly involved (due to the sudden changes we are going through), you still should go to the show. Bands performing include Dawn Over Zero, Half-Stack Heart-Attack, Sayonara, Sonar Lights, The Devils Bards and Ashley VanArsdel.

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 – The Never Sleep Again Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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