Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - Blameshift

Wednesday night is a real odd night for a concert, but touring acts don’t have the luxury of only playing the prime spots, like the Friday’s and the Saturday’s. Such was the case this night, when not one, but two touring acts from the East Coast (Blameshift and Super Bob) were stopping in Dallas, in part thanks to Torch Entertainment, who had put the show together at Wit’s End.

This was actual the first show I would catch at Wit’s End, having visited the spot when occupied by the former venue, but not since it had been re-opened. It had a different look inside, aesthetically speaking, so it didn’t feel like you were walking into the same old place it had been previously. The biggest difference, though, was the sound, which was always spotty the few shows I had seen there when it was The Bone. I dug it all, and props to the new owners for putting in the work the place so desperately needed, ‘cause it has definitely paid off.

Two D/FW acts were opening, and first up was The Circle, who had hopped on the bill rather last minute, at the request of Blameshift (the two had shared the stage last October), which should speak volumes about The Circle.

This was the first time I’d seen the band since their CD release show back in July, meaning this was the first time that I fully knew some of their newer songs, like the lead track from their EP, “The Other Side”. It’s a killer song that makes for a killer opener, and they didn’t allow for any downtime as drummer Marc Berry patched them into their next song, before lead guitarist Craig Nelson ripped into his guitar for the opening line of “406”. “Can you bring me back to life, ‘cause I’ve been dead for so long…” front man Don Mills belted out on the chorus, singing it rather forcefully, yet also in almost a melodic tone, making for a great combination.

They kept the ball rolling with a fairly new song, one that had only been done at four other shows according to Don. It was called “Save Me”, and it was the first brand new song I’ve heard them do in a little while. It still sounded very much like The Circle, but you could tell it was a newer one, written now that they’ve spent quite a bit of time together as a band, and just more cohesive. I guess I mean to say the cohesiveness was more than noticeable, and to a different degree then even their more recent tracks.

Upon finishing it, Don proposed a toast to everyone, thanking those who were there for coming out, as well as the other bands on the bill. “…It takes some big balls to play in Deep Ellum on a Wednesday night.” he stated. They then got back into some heavier stuff with “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”, before going right into their next song, and I believe that transition was handled by rhythm guitarist Alan Sauls, who fired up “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Right before hitting the last chorus of that one, Don, Craig and bassist Kenneth Henrichs (who had been adding some great backing vocals to it by the way) leapt straight into the air, in near perfect synch with one another.

They then cranked out another new one… Sort of. Upon finishing it Don (assumingly) joked that they had just rewritten it the day before. Personally, I don’t recall having heard “You Wanted This” before, or perhaps before it was overshadowed by some of their other songs. Whatever the case, it’s one you’ll certainly remember from now on when you hear it. While on the subject of songs that will stick with you, one of their album cuts, “Failure”, also has that effect, and Don pointed out that it was one of his favorites from the “Who I Am” EP.

“…I ate Serious Pizza before we started…” stated Don, remarking that, that was a “bad mistake”. Perhaps that impacted how he felt, but not how he acted, nor his stage presence, as they opted to work on closing out their EP as their 36-minute long set neared its end. That meant knocking out “I Am”, a song that is continuing to grow on me each time I hear it, before quickly launching into their single, “Sleep On it”, which is still the best way for them to wrap up a show, even leaving you wanting more.

It didn’t matter that they only had a handful of people giving them their undivided attention, they still rocked the place to the best of their ability, and on that note, you don’t often see a band that’s a fairly routine headliner opening up a show, and when one does, you know it’s going to be an excellent night.

They were incredible as always, and each time I see them, I somehow manage to end up liking them even more than I already did.

If you’re a fan of real rock music, head over to iTUNES and give a listen to their “Who I Am” EP. In regards to shows, they’ll be playing in Allen at the Dirty Rooster on October 19th. October 27th they’ll be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth, opening up for Nonpoint, and then on November 8th they’ll have a pretty big show at the Curtain Club in Dallas, and it’ll be one you don’t want to miss.

Second up on this bill was Waking Alice, another band that is more than capable of serving as a headlining act as well.

In what is becoming standard fashion, they opened their 36-minute long set with one of their newer (or at least unrecorded) songs, and one that I truly love. It’s the perfect flow the song has, the music bed complimenting frontman Rus Chaney’s voice, and vice versa, as they intertwine so well with one another.

Afterwards, they set to work tackling the “Retribution” EP. “This song’s called Treason.” Rus announced, guitarist Brandon Brewer starting the song no sooner had he spoke those words. That hefty and fast paced tune was followed by the darker, even slightly melodic “Scars”, which also boasts some spot on and impressive drumming from Jonn Levey

In a similar fashion as the band before them, Rus now offered up a toast to the fans and bands alike, thanking those who had come out to support, and after voicing his appreciation, a [female] fan shouted, “Take your shirt off!” He ignored the request, but Brandon had a response. “I was going to, but now I won’t.” he quipped, before Rus set up their one slower love song. “Fates Design” is one of my favorite Waking Alice tracks, and it was only made better this night by a slightly tweaked intro, different than that you hear on the recording, which made the song a little more impactful. Afterwards, they pulled out their newest song, which Rus noted had been released on iTUNES just a week or two before, repeatedly saying its name, “Hostage”. “So, yeah, this one’s Hostage.” he said (or something along those lines) after briefly talking about the song.

The tight combination of the guitar, drums and bass, played by Brayton Bourque, made for the best intro of any of their songs, while the track itself was their best of the night. I’d even say it’s the best thing the band has written with its current lineup, and it’s a perfect display of what rock music should be.

No WA show would be complete without the classic, “Biggest Lie”, and of course Brandon went into a guitar solo a little after the halfway mark. It started out sounding pretty close to how the song does, though that didn’t last long, as he pulled away from it, riffing and shredding. He wasn’t the only one with a solo, though, and in a change of pace, Brayton also riffed for a few seconds, before Jonn took charge with a short drum solo, allowing everyone to have their moment, before Rus started back in, “Cut it out of me…”

Their time had passed by quick, but they had one last song to do, a cover Rus informed everyone, getting a few cheers from group of fans who knew what was coming next. At least they thought they did. “We’re gonna do a little Pumpkins for ya.” said Rus, which would be a big difference from the other song they’ve covered at recent shows.

Jonn led them into it with a snare roll, before the rest of the group joined in, revealing it to be “Geek U.S.A”, which they did a great rendition of, and it was a good way to cap things off.

I’d say this was one of the best Waking Alice shows I’ve seen yet, delivering a great performance and set this Wednesday night, that hit their best stuff, and that cover they threw in was simply icing on the cake.

They’re not one of those bands that does shows every week, or even every month (in fact, this was their first show since the end of June), but each time they get on stage, the growth is noticeable, as they get a little tighter each time around, which is exactly what you want to see from a band.

You can catch them at least one last time before the year ends, and that one will be at the Curtain Club in Dallas on November 16th. In the meantime, go pick up that new single, “Hostage”, in iTUNES, plus their other assortment of music.

Super Bob was up next, who had traveled all the way from Washington D.C., and were doing their first ever Dallas show.

I had listened to them earlier in that day actually, and didn’t much care for their rap-rock style of music (at least that’s what I consider it to be), and wasn’t expecting much from them. In fact, at first I thought they were going to be the headline act, in which case I planned to leave before they even started.

Then the four-piece outfit got on stage, and proceeded to, at least in terms of stage show, blow everyone else out of the water.

They didn’t let the smaller, even somewhat awkward stage at Wit’s End impede them, as they got down with an explosive and brutal live show, that often had vocalist Matt Santoro, guitarist Adam Smith and bassist Drew Recny thrashing about.

Mixed in with their originals was a cover, a cover of what Matt said was “the greatest rock song ever”, and while that could be argued (specifically the rock part), they did do a fun and intense rendition of LMFAOs’ “Sexy and I Know It.”

While they were all electric performers, I thought it was drummer Chris Faircloth who truly owned the show, adding all sorts of moves into his playing. From the standard tossing the drumsticks up in the air and catching them, to something I had never seen before, which was throwing them in the air, then catching the stick perfectly in the palm of his hand, while it balanced there for a second or two. It was extremely impressive, and mind-blowing would be the best word to use to describe his drumming abilities.

Okay, I was still never won over as a fan of their music, but they do deserve props for the amazing show they put on, and for doing everything they could to get the audience into it, even getting some people to jump at different points in their set.


They’ll be on the road for a little bit longer, working their way back up the East Coast, and you can find all those dates HERE. And for those who do like rap-rock, check out their music in iTUNES.

The Long Island, New York based Blameshift was the headliner this night, and having only caught them once before (June of the previous year), I was looking forward to seeing them again.

With their newest record and first ever full-length album, “Secrets”, due out soon, new material was a guarantee, and they kicked their set off with the album’s lead track, “The Enemy You Need”. It was immediately different from some of their older stuff, which has had a bit of a pop flare to it, but not this track, nor most of the others. It was full-blown Rock ‘n’ Roll all the way, and in a very engaging way at that, and they further pulled the onlookers in by rolling it right into their next song.

Vocalist Jenny Mann started to clap, requesting everyone else join her, and it was impossible not to. “This song’s called Revolution!” she said as they got it going. That first song was all it took for them to get warmed up, and during that one guitarist Tim Barbour and their bass player could be seen racing around the stage, trading back and forth between stage left and right and jumping on top of their boxes, one of which read “Blame”, the other, “Shift”.

After that track, which had some superb percussion parts courtesy of Nathan Saake, Jenny asked everyone to take a few steps closer, saying that the empty space in front of the stage just didn’t feel right, and everyone obliged. “This one’s called Ghost.” She said as they pulled out a track from 2011’s “The Black Rose” EP.

If they only did one old song this night, that one was definitely the best choice, and still meshes well with what they’re doing now, and once it was over, they got back to their new material with “Not Enough”. “…Rock ‘n’ Roll is on a decline…” Jenny said after they finished that song, which is all too sad a fact, and she thanked everyone for coming out in the middle of the week to see them and the other acts, and help keep rock music alive. She continued by noting that while they had played the area before, this was their first time in “The Deep Ellum”, saying she didn’t even know Dallas could be divided into different sections like that. “…Am I saying that right? The Deep Ellum?” she asked, before The Circle’s singer, Don, corrected her, telling her she didn’t need the “The”. “You’d think I would have researched it a little before I got up here…” she joked, adding she wanted to hear the story and why it is a significant part of town after their show.

During all that, Tim was swapping out to an acoustic guitar, while Nathan left the stage. “…We don’t do this often…” Jenny said, after mentioning this was going to be a cover song and referring to the fact that they apparently don’t always do covers. They put their acoustic spin on the Foo Fighters classic “My Hero”. It was a nice way to break things up, and after finishing it they got back to their all electric mode, while Jenny asked everyone to call their radio station and request this next song. “…Tell them to stop playing Nickelback and start playing some new shit.” she said as they got “Let Go” going.


They were at the tail end of their set, doing the title track itself, “Secrets”, which became a bit of a sing along as Jenny led everyone in what to sing on one part, while at another Tim said he wanted to see everyone jumping up and down, something everyone seemed eager to do. They then brought it into the final song of their 37-minute long show, which I think was “I Swear, I’m Gonna Leave This Town”.

Their time went by too quickly, but with a show as fun and enthralling as the one Blameshift puts on, it’s easy to get caught up in it and lose track of time.

It was a fantastic show they did, filled with energy and passion, and they were much better than even what I remembered them being. No doubt a product of the near non-stop touring they do.

As for their new stuff, it’s without question their best music to date, even sounding a little more mature than their previous EPs. And live, it translates exceedingly well.

I don’t believe “Secrets” will be officially released until early November, but if you go see a Blameshift show, you’ll be able to get a copy there (the record is incredible, by the way). Otherwise, wait it out and check out their EPs in iTUNES. They also have a few dates left on this current tour, including October 9th at the Drunk Horse Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The 11th at the Wizard Saloon in Hickory, North Carolina. The 12th at the Chili Cook Off at the Shenandoah Fair Grounds in Woodstock, Virginia. Then on the 17th they’ll be in Toledo, Ohio at Mainstreet.

Props to Torch Entertainment for setting up the show and once again bringing Blameshift through town, as well as getting some killer local bands on the bill. The turnout might have been weak, but those who were able to make it out this Wednesday night saw a show they surely won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 – Affiance

Torch Entertainment was presenting a show at the Curtain Club in Dallas this night, and I almost didn’t go to it. The reason being it was billed as a metal show, and any casual reader should know by now I’m not a real metal fan.

There are a few metal acts I enjoy, such as Dallas area based, Light the Fire, who was actually the catalyst for me wanting to go to this show, after they were added on semi last minute. I then gave a quick listen to the headlining band, Affiance, who proved to be a different type of metal than what I had expected. There was legitimate singing on their songs, unlike the throaty screaming that plagues the metal industry these days. I was thoroughly impressed after listening to their recorded stuff, and knew I had to be at the show to witness what they were like in the live environment.

First up this night was the Denton based metal act, Wake the Dreamless. With their first song, they proved to be better than I expected. They were a definite metal band, but vocalist, Joe Bustnaji, did equal amounts of singing in both a “clean” and “dirty” style, which kept my interest. They, or rather guitarist, Alex Reuda, had some slight technical difficulties after that song, but fixed it soon enough. “This next song’s called Polarized.” Said Joe, as Alex and fellow guitarist, Cameron Grantham, bassist, Josh Manalo, drummer, Neil Geisel, and keyboard player, David Kang, started the lengthy intro of the song. It was borderline epic, spanning over six minutes, and had a nice flow to it. The issues with Alex’s guitar still persisted at this point, causing the band to put things on hold while he fixed it. At one point he turned his amp back on, thinking the problem had been taking care of, only to have the venue filled with a barrage of ear piercing sounds before he quickly turned it off. Joe managed to use that as banter, though. “That’s our new wave of death metal. It’s just noise…” he said. Once that was fully resolved, they got their next song going, which was heavier than the previous two, and that only progressed with the next and final song of their 23-minute long set.

They were offered a chance to do one more, as they had some time leftover, but apparently those four songs were all they had planned for on this night, and had nothing else ready to pull out.

They were good. You could tell they were a newish band (according to their Facebook page they formed almost two years ago), and they never seemed like a truly cohesive unit, rather five guys who were all doing their own thing. The skill is there, though, they just need to bring it all together. I also found it an interesting choice that they had a keyboard player, since it doesn’t necessarily fit with the genre of music they play, and while I did find the guitars, bass and drums often overpowered the keys, when you could hear them, they added a nice layer to the music.

You can get a free download of their single, “Polarized”, by going HERE, and in the near future they will be releasing their newest EP.

After them was Light the Fire, who can often be seen headlining the Curtain Club, or at least acting as the main support band, but not this night.

I was, shall I say, intrigued to see them this night. Very recently, their original singer, Jamie Glasgow, decide to leave the band, who rather quickly found a replacement. This was only going to be their second show with the new frontman, though, and I was curious to see what Light the Fire version 2.0 was like.

Their set started in the routine, yet original way, as a rap song began to blare. When the curtain finally opened on them, guitarists, Ryan Dickinson and Felix Lopez, were both sporting some sunglasses, bobbing their heads to the music. Bassist, Andrew Penland, was doing the same, just sans the glasses. Once that sample track began to fade out, Blake Hein led them into the first song with some heavy drum beats, while Jeff Gunter raced onto the stage. “How are we doing Dallas!?…” he asked, leaving little time for a response as he began screaming the opening line of “Don’t Fail Me Now”. The “moment of truth” came rather swiftly, and I realized I had nothing to fear, as he kept the singing pretty true to form to what it had been. “This next song can be found on our EP.” He said hastily, while Felix and Ryan let loose the triumphant notes of the title track from their EP, “Note To Self”. There weren’t a ton of people there this early on, but the ones who were and were up front watching helped them out here, chanting, “HEY!”, right along with Andrew and Jeff on the songs bridge. They powered through this 24-minute long set, and Blake wasted no time, counting them right into their next tune. “This is a brand new song, Dallas.” Jeff said, “It’s called Thunder Cunt.” I still believe this is the heaviest song the band has played to date, and while I liked it the first time I heard it, I thought it sounded even better now. Though I’m not sure if it’s due to them simply having played it live a little more or if it was because of Jeff. When they were about halfway through it, they took a musical break, which Jeff used to introduce his band mates. “Do you know what, Dallas?” he asked after naming everyone, “I never felt so good in my life!” he screamed, resuming the song. It was directly followed by “Under My Skin”, which worked incredible well, since it’s another brutal number, in all the right ways. “Thoughts” came next, and Jeff successfully got some of the fans to jump up and down and just have a good time at the start of it. That brought them to their final song of the night, which was another new one from their upcoming EP, and as they tore into it, Ryan and Felix each hopped onto a box on their respective side of the stage, churning out the notes on another pretty killer song.

It may have been a (slightly) abridged set, but they still managed to pack it full of rock. In fact, I think there was a higher than normal quantity of it this night, even by Light the Fire standards.

They were just on fire this night (no pun intended). Andrew and Blake created the perfect rhythm section this night, especially during “Not to Self”, where Andrew was pounding out the bass lines and reacting in perfect synch with every thundering beat. It was true musicianship through and through, and not just from them but the whole outfit.

That leads us to Jeff. It would be accurate to say I hate when any band gets a new singer, simply because it changes any bands overall sound so much. Sometimes that’s for the better, but there have also been a few acts that have lost me as a fan due to replacements like that.

Luckily, Jeff doesn’t alter the band’s sound that much, though. He definitely has his own voice, which lacks the higher tone that was normal for Jamie, but I look at that as a good thing. It allows Jeff to make the songs his own in a way, while some of his stage mannerisms are similar enough to their former frontman’s that it’s not going to be a drastic change from the live show the fans were used to seeing.

Very solid, especially considering Jeff had only been with the band for three weeks at this point, and had only performed once with them in the live setting.

It’s too early to say if Light the Fire will be even better now than they were before, but they are every bit as great as they’ve always been, and with a new EP/DVD set to be released in June, I’d say the future looks pretty bright for them.

If you haven’t already, check out their debut EP, “Note to Self”, and if you can, go to one of their upcoming shows. They’ll be rocking Click’s Live in Tyler on March 9th, then the Abbey Underground in Denton on the 10th. March 23rd will find them at Hartline’s in Greenville, and they again be rocking the town on April 20th, this time at The Hanger. They even have some dates booked in May, so to see the full listing, visit their REVERBNATION PAGE, where you can also get a free download of their title track.

The third act of the night also happened to be the first of two female fronted bands on this bill, and that was Solice.

This just so happened to be the bands one year anniversary of performing, having done their first live show almost a year to the day of this one, which also took place at the Curtain.

I don’t remember exactly how I came across them, but I had been wanting to see one of their shows for at least the last six months, and was excited that I was finally getting the opportunity.

Once the curtain opened, frontwomen, Xtina, made her way on stage and dropped the band’s name for anyone who didn’t know, along with asking how everyone was doing. She finished with, “…”This is a brand new song. It’s called Not Giving Up.” Rob was the one who started the song, with some very thick bass notes. It was a great and slightly more unique way to open it up, but the song didn’t spring to life until guitarist, Juan, and drummer, Ryan, joined the mix, and that was when you knew it was on. After their second song, Xtina had, had enough of the large empty spaces in front of the stage, and she asked everyone to come and join them, and some of the people who were standing further off did just that. They cranked out a couple more songs before Juan started them on one from their first EP, “Break Free”. It was very fast paced and driven, which subsequently made it engaging to the audience and was easy to rock out to. And as if it weren’t heavy enough with thunderous rhythm section of drummer, Ryan, and Rob, the backing vocals (or rather screams) that Juan threw in really set it off as a hard rock song. “We’ve got a couple more for you.” Said Xtin, announcing their next tune was called “Trapt”. It got off to a slower start. So slow that actually she and Juan took a seat on the drum riser, while Rob sit back on his amp. The tranquil sounds didn’t last long, though, as the song soon roared to life, and the three of them jumped back into action. That brought them to the final song of their 32-minute long set, which was another staple of theirs, “The Mask”. Xtina had used her keyboard that was setup at center stage briefly earlier in the night, but it really got put to use know as she used it through part of the first verse, giving the song a beautiful texture. “The outer world puts on a face. Halloween is every day. How you acts not how you feel, no one knows the you that’s real…”She sang, with it making the transition to a full-blown rock song at that point.

It was a pretty high energy show they put on, and they were every bit as good as I had hoped they’d be. They play a nice blend of hard rock tinged with metal, with the metal sound definitely coming from Juan’s guitar work, and even slightly via Rob and his bass. That’s balanced out by Xtina, who has a powerhouse of a voice, and while she sounds great on their recordings, they in no way capture how incredible she sounds in the live setting.

If you haven’t seen them already, they are definitely an act to check out, and one I hope to see a little more often now.

They have several shows coming up, beginning with March 13th, when they will be performing on the Back Porch stage at Six Flags in Arlington. On March 15th they’ll be at Tomcats West over in Fort Worth, while on the 30th they’ll be down in Houston at Walters. They also have a gig lined up for April 13th at Treff’s in Waco. Lastly, if you head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE, you can get a free download of “Break Free”, as well as purchase the other three songs that comprise their EP.

Cull the Heard was next, who was yet another act I had never heard of prior to this, and didn’t know what to expect from them.

“Take Me” kicked off their 28-minute set, with vocalist, Davon Says, singing the first few lines in, of all styles, acappella. “You can’t take my life from me. I’m too strong for it, you see?…” he sang, demonstrating he had quite the voice on him, with his pitch being perfect as he hit each note. The metal part of their music soon began, though, with some fast paced guitar notes from Eric Dando and deafening beats Jim Stephenson was pounding out. That was when Davon began shouting out the lyrics in a more throaty voice, and while I usually dislike vocal styles like that, this turned out to be an exception. Actually, it still sounded good, and the anger it evoked fit with what the song was about. And it only helped that they already had me fully captivated with their energetic performance. After it, they did one titled “Lead Me Home”, and before the following song, Davon offered a brief explanation of what it was about. “…It’s about chasing your dreams…”, adding you just need to do what you enjoy. It was aptly called, “I Want More”, and got off to a softer start, before it swelled to a point it could give any metal song a run for its money. They followed it with “Pieces”, which Davon said was about “…Putting the pieces of your life back together. ‘Cause no one else is going to do it for you…”, and upon finishing it they did “Dim”. Davon used a cordless mic, and right as the song started he leapt off stage into the crowd, before making his way through everyone and eventually walking out the door, presumably out onto the patio. I can honestly say that out of the nearly one hundred shows I’ve seen here at the Curtain, I’ve never seen anyone do that before. That left Eric, Jim and their bassist alone on the stage, but they were more than capable of putting on a show that held your attention until Davon rejoined stormed back in and rejoined them. “Part of It” was another aggressive number and one you could really head bang to, and that left them with only one more song, during which Eric shredded on his guitar for a killer solo.

I liked these guys a whole lot more than I thought I would. Scratch that, I think love is a more fitting word over “like”, and out of the local openers, they ended up being my second favorite.

The stage show was excellent, with Davon exerting most of the energy, at least in terms of being the most active, constantly roaming about and really engaging the crowd. He’s about as solid a frontman as you could find and a real beast, while Jim, Eric and the groups bassist all appeared to be masters of their craft as well.

Impeccable. That’s a good word to sum up their show this night, and I will definitely be attending more in the future.

They’ll be playing at Tomcats West in Fort Worth on March 22nd and May 5th, the latter of those dates being another Torch Entertainment show. They’ll also return to Dallas in between those gigs, again rocking the Curtain Club on April 12th.

The last of the local openers was the Fort Worth based, Deaf Angel.

It had been some time since the last time I had seen them (about eight months), during which time they’ve made some changes. One of those changes is the acquisition (or re- acquisition) of Duston Daulton, who is now the rhythm guitarist. They’ve also written a lot of new music for their upcoming LP, which made up the bulk of their 26-minute long set this night.

Their opener was one of those new tunes they unleashed on the audience, and I don’t think there’s any arguing that it’s one of the best things the band has done thus far. Lead guitarist, Lee Daniels, and Dustin cranked out some great riffs on it, even having nice lull that gave the impression it was over, before the group exploded back into it. Vocalist, Tina Downs, added some keys to the next song at the start of their next song, “Goodbye”, which was one of only two songs they did from their “We Will Rise” EP. That didn’t last long though, as she soon left the keyboard, which was set up by the drum kit, getting back to the forefront of the stage to rock out. It’s a very rhythm heavy song, with some killer drum work from Scott Van Slyke, which made it easy for bassist, Kelly Robinson, to thrash around. I also want to say I like the way Scott sits up his kit, which is to the side rather than facing the audience, allowing everyone to better see the skills he posses. “Judge” was another new song they did, and afterwards, Tina asked everyone a question. “Does anybody know who we are?!” The audience cheered, prompting her to ask, “Who are we?!” The fans shouted back at her, “DEAF ANGEL!”, which went on a few times. It’s also worth noting that out of all the opening bands, more eyes were on them than anybody else. That led them to their other song off their most current EP, “Rise Up”, which was just one of many this night that had Scott adding some backing vocals, which really metaled up their sound. Following it was “Face”, and after learning they had enough time for one more, Tina said, “…Let’s get crazy…”, stating that “Crazy” was the song title, and was a good one to conclude their show with.

I’ve only seen them a handful of times, but this was the best Deaf Angel show I’ve caught. I thought that they brought it even more than they usually do. Part of that was probably from Dustin, who I think helped broaden their sound and kick it up a notch, both in terms of the sound and their live show. He wasn’t all of it, though. Kelly put on a show by himself and it was evident he was feeling it for every single second they were on stage. I’ve said this many times in the past, but I find it hard to always pay attention to the drummers of any band when there are three to four other band members constantly moving around, making it hard to see them, but Scott was impressive enough I made a point to give him my full attention. While Tinas’ voice, which is powerful and attention grabbing, was just as big of a focal point.

Later in the year they’ll be releasing their new full-length record, “Brutally Beautiful”, but in the meantime, check out the singles they have available on ITUNES.

They served as an excellent final warm-up, but now it was finally time to see what Affiance was all about…

They launched right into their 47-minute set, which began with “You Will be Replaced”. The commanded a small crowd, at least at first, but most everyone who surrounded the stage were fans through and through, singing along to every word, like the songs chorus, “We’re fighting as hard as we can to not be forgotten. We’re running as fast as we can. To the front lines we live on forever.” It didn’t even take that full song to have me completely engrossed with the band, more like the first minute of it, and it was already obvious this was going to be quite the spectacle. Material from their newest album was the main focus point this night, though they did a couple from their 2010 debut, “No Secret Revealed”, such as their second song, which singer, Dennis Tvrdik, quickly mentioned was called “Nostra Culpa”. Thus far they had been pretty music oriented, but during the little break they started letting their personalities come out, subsequently building a bit of a rapport with the ever growing audience. Dennis said he eaten too much food at one of their gas station stops, which was now causing him to belch. He apologized to everyone, though I never heard any of it being picked up by the mic, then stated their next song was “Righteous Kill”. About halfway through the song, drummer, Patrick Galante, showed off just what kind of skill he has, tossing his drum sticks in the air one at a time, always knocking out some beats with the one that was currently in his hand, making it look incredible effortless. Also, when he wasn’t singing on that one, Dennis was often surveying the crowd and bore a very determined look with a fiery passion in his eyes. It made it crystal clear that he, along with the rest of the band, took this seriously and were going to leave it all on the stage. A sample track played before their next song, as guitarists, Brett Wondrak and Dominic Dickinson, as well as bassist, Cameron Keeter, geared up to start their next song, the lead track from “The Campaign” album, “Kings of Deceit”. “Are you awake, Dallas?!” asked Dennis once the song was finished, which caused everyone to roar back at him, showing they were still very much alive. While that was going on, Deaf Angel’s, Tina Downs made her way on stage, as the band started “Bohemian”. She added some backing vocals on parts of the chorus, and I believe it was the start of the second verse where she briefly took over the lead. That earned Deaf Angel a shout out, and Dennis mentioned how much they liked the band, and that they had shared the stage with them a few times in the past. Topic of conversation then turned to the bands home state of Ohio (they hail from Cleveland). One of the fans shouted something about how great Ohio was, but Dennis quickly responded with, “…Now parts of Ohio suck…”, saying that there were a few not so great parts of it. Things then circled back to an earlier topic, as Dennis said he was still feeling “gassy”, to the point he thought he might puke. A fan asked if maybe it instead stemmed from having too much to drink, and surprisingly, he answered by saying he doesn’t drink before shows. “…That’ll fuck you up…” he said, meaning it ruin your voice when you need it most. He went on to say he had only thrown up once before during a show and it was because he had too big a meal, and luckily tonight did not make for a second time. They then moved on, firing up “The Cynic”, and while Dominic, Brett, Cameron and Patrick raced through the intro, Dennis outstretched one arm, acting as if he were holding a shotgun, then “firing” it in synch with one of the drumbeats, right before he started singing. “We the Machines” followed that, but first Dennis asked everyone to headbang to what was about to ensue, saying he wanted to see some “…deep headbanging, all in unison…” Nearly everyone obliged. The banter continued afterwards, when Dennis said, “…As you may know, people from Cleveland are kind of Dallas Mavericks fans, because y’all kicked Lebron James’s ass a couple of years ago…” I believe he even referred to the NBA star as a “piece of shit”. “Peace of Mind” was the next song they did, and it was the only song of their set that didn’t go over smoothly. A song or two before, Dominic had switched to another guitar, and while shredding away on this tune one of the strings broke. His band mates noticed it, but didn’t pay it much attention, acting like professionals as they powered through it, still giving it their all. “I’m sorry, guys. My string broke.” Dominic said when the song concluded, seeming pretty sincere with his apology. They stated they only had a couple left at this point, and Dennis asked for everyone who was a warrior to move up front, causing everybody to pack in tightly. With his choice of words, I expected a different song, but instead they performed the title track from their 2012 record, “The Campaign”. I’d say it was good way to start winding things down, but I don’t know how much winding down was actually done, because everyone still appeared heavily invested in the show. They had saved the best for last, and to ease them into their final song, the track “Mad as Hell” began to play. For those who don’t know, it’s a speech by the character, Howard Beale, taken from the ’76 film, Network. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job…” it started, during which time Cameron put his bass down, resting it against the drum riser. He neared the edge of the stage, pacing back and forth from one side to the other, inciting the crowd by trying to get them to make some noise, and could often be seen lip-synching to the speech. “…”I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” By that time, Cameron had his bass back on, as Dennis yelled the opening line of “Call to the Warrior”, “Get up off the ground!”.

I half expected an encore, but no, that really was it. Not that I was disappointed by any means, it’s just that they were so damn good I would have loved to have heard more.

Now Affiance is a true metal band whose music I can really get behind. Like I said earlier, it’s the constant screaming that really turns me off of most metal music, but that’s kept to a minimum in Affiance’s music. When Dennis does scream, it more just adds a nice effect to the music, while is actual singing voice is nothing short of phenomenal and gripping. He sounds every bit as good live as he does on their albums, probably even better. Both Brett and Dominic came off as being masters of the axe, shredding almost nonstop, while Cameron could command the audience every bit as good as Dennis did, and Patrick was a true machine on the drums.

It was really an off the wall show they put on, and in terms of energy and showmanship, there’s no reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t be headlining much bigger venues in Dallas and elsewhere. Of course they might not have the necessary fan base for that yet, but they’ll get there. After all, this was (surprisingly) their first ever headlining tour, and for a Thursday night, I’d say their Dallas stop turned out to be a monumental success. And whenever they come back through, I know I’ll make a point to attend the show, and you would be wise to do the same.

At this point, their tour is almost over, with the remaining dates being March 6th at Live 59 in Plainfield, Illinois and the 7th at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. That’s not all their shows, though. They have a few in later March in the states of New York and New Jersey. They’ll also be on the road for a lot of April, hitting cities in Virgina, New York, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. For full details on when and where they’ll be, go HERE. Also, check out both of their full-length records, plus their cover of “The Final Countdown”, in ITUNES.

Congrats to Torch for putting on such a successful show. It was definitely one for the books, and I feel there’s a pretty good chance this will be one of the best shows I see all year.

All photos were taking by Danny Motta of Danny Mota Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him. Visit his OFFICIAL WEBSITE and to see all of the pictures from this show, go HERE.

Wake the Dreamless
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Light the Fire
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Solice
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Cull the Heard
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Deaf Angel
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Affiance
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Thursday, June 7th, 2012 – The Never Sleep Again Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 13th, 2012 – Clepto

For any routine readers of my blog, well, you’ve probably gotten a good idea as to the type of music I like and you know that punk or metal are two genres I’m not really into.

Well, a few months ago I received an email from a band by the name of Clepto, who original formed in Saudi Arabia, moved to Canada, and more recently embarked on a tour of the US that has lasted the better part of two years. They had been referred to me by Up to Eleven Entertainment and wanted me to do what I could to drum up some promotion for them since they have never played the area before. I did everything I possible could, and tonight the date of their Dallas show had finally arrived.

Reno’s Chop Shop in Dallas was the host venue and the show was presented by one of Dallas’s premier entertainment companies, Torch Entertainment, and Up to Eleven Entertainment also played some role in doing the show.

When I got there however, “Torch” informed me that one of the bands had backed out and then Clepto had yet to arrive, as their van broke down after they got outside of Austin. They were on their way though, and that was the most important part.

This was a real different show for me, because for the first time in a long time I was seeing bands I had never seen before, and really didn’t even have any prior knowledge of. The first of these bands was the trio, Horror Cult. Guitarist and backing vocalist, Chris Ortiz, began the show by shouting, “ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”, as they ripped into their first song. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of them and the other acts, but as soon as they started this 37 minute set, I found myself enjoying it. It’s very fast paced stuff that had their fans thrashing their heads around to it. I don’t really know any of their material, but I do know that earlier in their set one of the songs they played was “Lose”, and closer towards the end did the very intense, “Junk Bucket”. Don Vowell had a much better voice than what I had counted on, which isn’t to say it was great, but it was good enough that I liked what they played. The only song I was on the fence about was one that drummer and backing vocalist, Rodney Mullins, sang lead on, because what he did was just a little too hardcore for my tastes. He’s an incredible drummer, though. In fact, the show was the best thing about them and it’s evident they put everything possible and then some into their performances.

Also, their stage props added a nice element to the show, as a skull set atop one of the amps, while they had severed heads wrapped around each of the mic stands. You can find their record, “Loosely Based on True Events”, on iTunes and they have several shows coming up, too. May 4th, 5th and 6th they will be at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Irving performing as part of the Texas Freightmare Weekend. Also, on the night of May 5th you can see them at the Rail Club in Fort Worth. The on May 19th they will be at the Curtain Club in Dallas.

Next up this night was China Kills Girls. What little I had listened to them online they sounded good, and I had heard good things about them from both “Torch” and Katie Boyd, who runs another production based in the area. Actually, a note about Katie, she had told me for the last week or more how excited she was for this show because she loves CKG and really wanted to see Clepto, but then at the last minute backed out because, she had a toothache. I only mention that because I told I’d call her out on this.

I didn’t see all of China Kills Girls set, but I did catch most of it, and what I saw, they KILLED it. The only song that I can find online that I know they played at this show was “Fuck Machines”, which was actually stood out as being one of my favorite songs of theirs. And it may well be one of the most badass things I’ve heard. I found frontman, Johnny Wenger, to be the most high-energy performer of their set, though it could because the stage at Reno’s is rather small, so guitarists, Chris Carriker and Mike Norcutt, as well as bassist, Angela Westendorf, didn’t have much room to work with. Johnny more than made up for it though, stomping around the stage. He has a lot of piss and vinegar to his voice, sounding very angry, which was displayed in one song as he sang, “…If I had my way I’d see you…” and then saying something about seeing this person basically dismembered and cut up, with the pieces in a “Ziploc bag” along the side of the road. It was just great, and they definitely know how to command attention.

I didn’t see what was probably the last ten minutes or so, because at this point Clepto had arrived and one of their singers, Alex, had seen me, so we went out on the patio to talk. Apparently though, towards the end of CKG’s set, Johnny left the stage and hopped up on one of the tables, which “Torch” seemed pretty impressed by, and from the picture I saw, it does sound pretty cool.

You can find some China Kills Girls tunes on their Reverbnation page, and if you want to see them, they have a show on May 4th at Tradewinds Social Club in Dallas.

I was outside for awhile talking with Alex and Nick of Clepto, as well as some other people I met, and when I finally went back in, The Me-Thinks were on stage. They were the only band on the bill that I just didn’t care for, and it was mainly because I didn’t care for the voice of Raymond Liberio, who also played bass.

I just didn’t like them, and was glad when they finished, because that meant Clepto would soon take the stage.

Since they had that issue with their van, the vehicle they rented wasn’t big enough to haul all their gear, which meant they had only brought their instruments and used the amps and such of The Me-Thinks. Before they began, Niko and Alex talked about how glad they were to be in Texas and Dallas for the first time, also mentioning that they had been touring in the U.S. for over a year and a half. “…And we’re still going to fuck up our songs.” said guitarist and occasional vocalist, Niko Chantziantoniou. Other singer and guitarist, Alex Cabral, agreed, “Yes, we will still fuck up our own songs.” That little bit of comedy was a nice way to start things off, as it helped build a good little rapport with the crowd, before Clepto launched into their loud, in your face punk rock. “Marhaba” from the band’s latest release, “Kebab: Live Off the Grill”, opened their 44 minute long set, as Niko sang the first half of the song or so, while Alex handled the last half. Then at the end, bassist, Freddie Al-Hajj, let out this throaty but agonizing sounding scream, almost like he was dying, which adds a nice element to the tune. Just as the album does, they went right into the next song, as Philip Al-Hajj beat down on the drums to start “Frappe”, which begins with a pretty heavy sound. They stopped at this point and discussed what song to do next, deciding to draw further from “Kebab…” by doing their reprise of “Pervert Song”. I don’t think it was at this point, but during their set they mentioned not having a set list, and someone said, “Maybe y’all left it in your van.” “No…” replied Alex, “…We haven’t used a set list in about six weeks or so.” Afterwards, Niko said for their next song they were going to do “Pink Guitar”, which Alex wasn’t sure if he could do right or not. Niko set it up, saying there was a band they knew, I think he said their name was No Victor, who “…is pretty shitty. “So we wrote this song about them.” he added. Alex still seemed hesitant, and Niko told him, “Don’t worry, we just have to play this less shitty than them.” “That should be easy, cause they do, do it pretty shitty.” Alex replied, as they blazed through this song that lasts barely over a minute, and upon finishing it he admitted he messed up on some of his guitar lines. Next they did a song from the “Sonic Rape” record, as Philip counted them in on what is the first song of the record, “The Bastards”, which has some blistering guitar lines. “How many of you like sex!?” Niko asked when the song was done. Only a few people made an noise, prompting him to ask, “…What the fuck!? Are the rest of virgins or something!?” That’s what the next song they had planned was about, and easily the best part of “Through the Night” is the instrumental intro. The structure of it is nothing short of amazing and sounds fairly intricate. This was definitely a highlight of their set for me, and towards the end of it Alex, Niko and Freddie sang “Through the night.” a few times in unison. The next tune they did was about pirates and aptly titled, “Pirates”, and then they made everyone reminisce of the emo phase music went through. “…Does everyone remember that?…” Niko asked, though no one responded. “I think they’re all trying to forget it.” laughed Alex. I wondered where this was going, because what Clepto does is far from emo, but then they announced the song as being “Cry Me a River”, which is one of my favorites. They followed with a song that Niko said has become the bands motto, “Get Fucked, Lets Rock”, and then concluded the show with “Not Dead Yet”.

I found the set to be great, and while their recordings sound really good, it’s clear the live show is where they excel, as they can and do just go all out, leaving everything on the stage. Honestly, I would have understood if they canceled the show due to their problems with the van, but I liked what Alex told me, which was that “…Canceling shows is a shitty thing to do…”.

It’s nice that there are bands out there like that, because I recall one I saw a couple months ago who could really take some cues from Clepto. (If you want to know what I’m talking about, read this post HERE.) That’s the right attitude all musicians should have, because there was only about five people or so who were actually there solely for Clepto, yet they still felt that playing this show was the only option.

The band is slowly making their way back to Canada. Find all their tour dates HERE, but they will be stopping in New York and Massachusetts. Then, come June, they will head over to Europe and already have a few shows booked in the UK.

You can find their albums “Sonic Rape”, “Acousticide” and “Handmade” on iTunes, and if you like them definitely buy their music. They were rolling their own cigarettes and I commented about it, saying you don’t see many people who do that. Alex’s response, “You don’t see many people as poor as we are, either.” So, whatever you purchase of theirs will definitely help them out.

This was a great show, by pretty much all the bands, and one last round of kudos to Torch Entertainment for helping orchestrate it. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and keep tabs on the other upcoming shows they will be presenting.

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NOTE: If any bands want me to A.) write a review of their album or B.) wish me to play their music on my podcast, than email me. Also, some amazingly talented individuals and myself have partnered up to create RYA Entertainment. We give you all the benefits of working with a major label (booking and promotional experience, industry connections, strength in numbers) without the hassles and cost associated with signing to a label. If your band would be interested in working with us in any of those aspects or performing at a future show of ours, contact me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@GMAIL.COM

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A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!

July 29, 2011 - A Farewell to Calling All War

Eventually, everything must come to an end. And, sadly, it was time for Calling All War to call it quits. It was the bands hometown farewell (their final show was in Austin the following night) and they were making a little extravaganza out of it. Reno’s Chop Shop was where it was happening at (which I’d never been to until tonight), and Torch Entertainment had put together a nice line-up of bands leading up to CAW.


I got there at 9 something, as the duo, I Am Warbird, was on their next to last song. Their tunes featured some lengthy instrumental intros, which at first had me thinking they were an instrumental band. Then drummer, Matt Bardwell, finally started singing. That was supposed to be their last tune, but the crowd was wanting one more, and they convinced the sound guy to let it happen. “…How ‘bout we do Bag of Bones, real quick?” Matt said. And so they did, and the vocals for this one were handled by guitarist, Kevin Dueer. Neither of them could sing all that well, but their music was pretty good. Especially taking into account it was just the two of them.


Next up was a trio, called My-I. For the first few songs vocalist and guitarist, Scot Nicholson’s voice was pretty rough sounding. Unrefined would be one way to put it. But either he started sounding better or I just got used to it, cause about midway through their show it started sounding better. Aside from the voice issue, their second song was pretty good, “Pay the Piper”. And they followed it with “The One”, I think it was called (if I heard him correctly.) Which was personally dedicated to everyone who hates their job. I found their next to last song, “These Chains”, to be their best. And they ended their set with one (I think) called “Never Better”. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again, but I didn’t like them to the point to get their CD, which they were releasing this night, either.


Next up was a band I saw almost two weeks ago. The all female, hard rock band, Faded Grace. And in performance terms, I thought this show topped that one, hands down. Vocalist, Tracy Vibrock, was more mobile on stage, unlike the Boiler Room show where most of the time she appeared glued to one spot. At that show, her incredible voice stole the show in my opinion. But tonight, the show just as much belonged to guitarists, Jessica Bruns & Diana Contreras, and bassist, Laura Paleczka, who flat out killed it! They seemed more into it tonight, and their stage performance was exactly what a rock show should be. They ran through all seven songs from their forth coming EP, with “Unworthy” and “Side to Side” being the only titles I was able to catch. (They were the second & third songs, respectively.) Tracy mentioned the process of the EP during the show, saying they would finish it up on Sunday, then send it off for pressing. “So next time, we should have copies…” she said. Next time will be at The Rail Club in Ft. Worth, on Friday, August 19th. They’re also set to play at Trees on September 9th, opening for Kittie.


Powderburn was up next. I’d listened to them several years ago on Myspace, and remembered they were WAY to metal and hard rock for my musical tastes. So instead, my dad (who often goes to shows with me) & I left and went to Club Dada, where The Will Callers were playing.


The O’s were finishing up their set when we got there. Recorded, I don’t much care for their music, but the few times I’ve seen them live, they’re pretty fun. And for just two guys, they totally succeed at creating a full band sound. Then The Will Callers quickly set up their gear, and a little after 12:30 got going. I didn’t stay too long, only 25 to 30 minutes, but even though I’m a pretty new fan of the band, I got to hear the majority of songs I really like. Including their second tune, “House of Falling Cards”, and “Dirty Water”. Think I heard six or seven of their songs altogether. Country isn’t usually the type of music I like, but these guys aren’t true country either. They’re a bit rockified. Their next area show will be at the Glass Cactus in Grapevine on September 8th.


It was one in the AM when I got back to Reno’s, and the members of CAW were getting their gear set up. Then, at 1:18, they began. “We’re Calling All War. And this is the last time we’ll ever play in Dallas.” said vocalist, Martin Caudillo. And, as drummer, Jonathan McGuire, laid into his kit, guitarists, Matt Culpepper & Lynyrd Stogner, and bassist, Millard Hasbrook came in as well, to start their first song. It was “Bottom Feeders”, and when it ended Jonathan kept the drum beats going, as they brought it into the next song, “Pass It Down”. For the next song, they welcomed Faded Grace’s guitarist, Jessica Bruns, on stage to help them. Also, Lynyrd had some trouble with his axe at this point, so he went and grabbed Jessica’s instead. “Oh, me and my guitar get to play on this song!” she exclaimed. What was the song? It was a cover of the Deftones “My Own Summer”. In terms of the song, they did a great cover of it. Martin can definitely scream when it’s required. Like in the previous song, when he sings, “…Pass it down…” three times, each time progressively working his way from singing to screaming. But Jessica certainly was able to give him a run for money, as she, too, let loose some violent sounding screams during the chorus. Like I said, that was terms of the song. Personally, I’ve never been able to get into the Deftones music, and this was my least favorite song they did. To really make this last Dallas show memorable, they had gotten past members of CAW to return for a song or two. So, next up they reverted to “…Calling All War 1.0…” as Martin referred to it as. Original singer, Brad  came up on stage, and Lynyrd was replaced by Justin. “This is the original Calling All War…” said Martin, as he handed the mic off to Brad and left the stage. This did look a little familiar, but I only saw them like this once, barely over three years ago, at Firewater Bar & Grill. They seemed to take their time, not only for Justin to make sure his guitar was tuned, but building up the suspense as well. Finally, they tore into the song, the epic, “Solmeso”. Brad started jumping up and down, motioning to the crowd, trying to excite them. Then he began singing the song, “Breathe into the fire dear. Plow into the war zone child. Stand inside your self-indulgent, mindless interaction of the world. Dive into my world of pain. Yell it at the top of the strains. Welcome to my self respect of what I’d like to call routine…” For whatever reason, I love the lyrics to that song, and it’ll always be one of my all-time favorites. And they kept this original line-up for one more song, “Inside My Sin”. As I said, I only saw them once like this, and I’d forgotten how great Brad’s voice was. I mean no disrespect to Martin, but he is a bit more of a screamer, while Brad’s styling’s are more along the lines of what I really like. Afterwards, Brad and Justin left, as they returned to the final CAW line-up. I don’t remember how it started now, I think it was with Matt joking, saying “Thank you, Cincinnati!” Then Martin started in, “That’s in Idaho, right? No? Ohio. That’s where they grow all the potatoes isn’t it?” Then added, “I don’t know, I failed US geography.” And, when the joking was done, they started their next tune, which was one I didn’t know. “Alright, this next one is a cool one.” Martin said, “It’s called Lust.” as the band began the song, and he soon sang, “Taste. I can taste your scent across the room…” For their next song they welcomed back another past member, guitarist, Ryan Maynard (currently of ReDefine). And he helped them rock out “Blood Tears”. And when it was done, they continued with their joking from earlier, this time, about history. “This is how we defeated Nazi Germany.” said, I believe, Matt. “Yeah.” said Martin. “I joined at some point, then Maynard came in. And then we got Lynyrd, and he finished them for us.” This may’ve been their farewell show, but at least there wasn’t some somber, sadness to it. Before starting the next song, Martin mentioned they had a new song to play at the end of the show. And after that tune, he asked this question, “What kind of band writes a new song, right before breaking up?” He then added, “Calling All War does…” At this moment the sound guy said something. “…And y’all won’t get to hear it.” he finished. What a tease! Thankfully, they quickly talked the sound guy into giving them more time. “This one is called new jam.” Lynyrd said, “That’s as far as it got.” This was the final song of their 51 minute long set, and it was great. Instrumentally, it was the best, most original sounding CAW song I’ve heard. And the way Martin’s voice flowed with the music was fantastic. Too bad they didn’t write this one sooner so they could’ve gotten it on their EP.


And that did it for Calling All War’s time in Dallas. “Thank you.” said Martin, as the show ended. “You’ll never see us again, but we love you.” Well, we’ll never see them again as Calling All War. But new, future projects are guaranteed to come from these musicians. So, keep your eyes and your ears peeled…

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