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

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

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

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

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

More dates to be announced soon!
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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 - Moving Atlas Makes Their Return to the Stage

Shortly before nine, Trees was already as lively as it usually is on a weekend. The amount of people who had showed up early was impressive.

Most people were probably there for the headliner, Nothing More, and just showed up early. Others were probably there to support the local openers, like Moving Atlas.

The thing that made this special however was that it wasn’t just a regular show for the band: this was a comeback show.

It was December 2012 the last time Moving Atlas graced a stage, and as different members were sidelined by life, the band wound up taking an extended hiatus. A hiatus that after twenty months was finally coming to an end.

“We’re Moving Atlas, thanks for having us,” frontman Dunagin Gaines spoke; the curtain of the stage still drawn as guitarists Ricky Dansby and Ben Scott, bassist Geoff Lucke  and drummer Ross Rubio exploded into the opening number. After nearly two-years, it made sense that they’d tweak their setlist a bit, and now opened with a song that was often reserved for the middle/latter part of their shows: “Muse Accuser”. The opus of sorts (it lasts more than six minutes) created an epic beginning to their show; and on the second chorus of it, Dunagin got a clap along going in time with the beat. The lull then brought things down, allowing him time to readjust his mic stand, and after doing so, he backed away from it and placed his hands in the air, telling it to stay, much like you would do with a dog. It was entertaining; and when the track roared back to life, he began jumping around.

The five-piece rock outfit played material from all four of their albums, with the Elephant Gun EP receiving the most attention, and next they did the lead track from it: “Parachute”. This was where they got into the raw rock they’re known for. “Parachute, don’t let me down inside these killing fields!” Dunagin belted on the chorus, with Ricky adding some heavier screams into the mix. The track ended with Ross delivering some rapid and tight beats, and Dunagin struck his chest with his fist in precise time to them.

“It feels good to be back,” Dunagin remarked, stating it had been a year and a half since they had played at all. While he spoke, Ross started into the next song, with the guitars and bass soon being layered over it. The title track of their nearly three-year old EP, Machina, was one song I had really missed hearing during their time away, and it sounded every bit as good as always. Perhaps even better. On the second chorus, Dunagin was making various motions with his hands that went along with the lyrics; but the best part came when he grabbed the mic stand (a boom mic stand), picking it up and carrying it back by the drum riser, all the while screaming, “…You will not stop, won’t lay down for anything. I’m willing to bet that you are the one!”

At another point, while swinging the microphone around by the cord, Dunagin did drop it, and that’s the closest thing I could find to a fault during their set this night. Still, that’s more just an accident.

Geoff now approached the mic, thanking their friends in Nothing More for having them on this bill. With that, they tackled the second longest song in their catalog: “How We’re Infected”. Given the time constraints they had this night, that was one song I hadn’t expected to hear, though was glad it made the cut. Ricky has a sweet little solo during it, and Dunagin used that time to sit on the drum riser, getting a break of just a few seconds before getting back to business and finishing the song.

“This song’s called 5280,” he announced afterwards, drawing some cheers from their fans who were in attendance. “It goes. Like. This,” he finished, stopping shortly after each word as he gazed back at Ross, waiting for him to make a move. He soon did, and the massive track that is “5280” assaulted the ears of everyone there.

“…Johnny, if you’re coming, come down,” Dunagin stated as they moved right on to the next number. He was speaking to Jonny Hawkins of Nothing More, who was most likely busy with other things and didn’t make it to help sing “Red Shelter”. That was arguably the coolest song of their set, all because of the effects Dunagin made for himself. “And the hours,” he crooned, repeating “hours” a few times, making his own echo/reverb effect, before continuing, “pass without consequence.”

They even dug back to Et Al, their 2006 debut record, pulling out “Bread and Meat”. The intro to it was thick, so heavy I could feel my chest cavity vibrating. This triumphant return was kept at just 35-minutes, and they concluded it with “Year of the Rat”, the roaring guitar riffs and thunderous beats proving an excellent note to go out on.

Honestly, I was most excited about seeing Moving Atlas this night.

I love Nothing More, and they are one of the best bands in existence. However, I’ve seen them recently, and multiple times within the last year or so. But Moving Atlas, well, I had started to have doubt that Moving Atlas would ever grace a stage again.

In talking to Ricky afterwards, he was quick to say it was rusty, which is understandable, given it had been so long. However, I didn’t think they missed a beat. They were still as tight as they always have been, and performing is just second nature to them. That was proven this night.

It shouldn’t be another nearly two years before Moving Atlas plays again, and at least one more show should (hopefully) happen by year’s end. If you don’t have any of their music, fix that by going over to iTUNES and picking it up.

I’ve got to say, that was a nice way to get warmed up for the main course that was soon coming.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 – The Suffers Bring Some Soul to Dallas

The main focus (genre wise) at Trees this night was Americana and roots rock, but Somebody’s Darling had put together a diverse lineup for their CD release show.

The Houston-based soul band The Suffers made just their second trip ever to the city, preparing to follow up a standout performance from the Homegrown Music Festival just three months prior.

The nine members fit comfortably on the spacious stage, and all of them got warmed up by yelling at the top of their lungs. It’s a battle cry of sorts, allowing them to all get in tune with one another. Trees was already pretty crowded at this point, too, and plenty of people there joined along with the shouting.

Everyone appeared to be caught up in the spell they cast with their first number; the soulful sound being perfect to dance to, while others just slightly swayed as the band did their thing. Cory Wilsons’ saxophone solo delighted the listeners; and the band rolled that song right into the fun, catchy, and even steamy, “Make Some Room”.

Vocalist Pat Kelly was really getting into the groove now, making little motions with her hands from time to time to help in expressing the lyrics. “Come on, let me cook for you, baby… I love you like I’ve know you forever…” she belted in her powerhouse voice on the chorus. At other times, when the trumpet, guitars, bass or anything else was getting it’s moment, she just danced along, completely embracing the music.

“Thank you, we’re The Suffers,” she informed everyone afterwards, as the audience roared with approval. She also mentioned this was their first evening show in Dallas. As of right now, they only have a few singles to buy, but she also pointed out they were getting ready to release a full-length, saying she was thought January would probably be when it comes out. With that, they tackled one of their singles from 2013, “Slow it Down”. The keys (which were manned by Steve Wells this night); the brass section of Cory and Jon Durbin on the trumpet; and additional percussionist Jose “Chapy” Luna (who rocked what looked like a couple of djembe drums, as well as a floor tom) were each prominently featured on that song that did everything but slow down the mood.

By this time, they had a full-fledged party going on. It was really neat, actually, to see a band who has such little experience playing Dallas, but has already become so well received.

They kept the feel good vibes up with another song, this one featuring a trombone solo at one point; and then Kam addressed something. She pointed out that those who had seen their set at Homegrown might remember that Pat Kelly wasn’t behind the drums then, but the keys. Turns out, their usual drummer, Nick Zamora and his wife had just welcomed a child into the world. So, fairly last minute, they had Pat fill in on the kit, and recruited Steve of the band Featherface to do keys for them.

They moved on with another infectious dance number, one that had Kam removing the microphone from the stand, as she strolled around the stage; and while bassist Adam Castaneda and guitarist Kevin Bernier were hidden behind the brass section, you could see them bobbing about from time to time.

Jose got the audience to participate in a clap along at the start of “Gwan”, as they built up to the beginning; and later on, guitarist Alex Zamora got another clap along going, while Jose slapped away at the djembes. “Thank you again. Just thank you. This has been great,” Kam said once it was over, overwhelmed by all the love that was being showered upon them.

They slowed the mood down a bit with “Giver”, before doing one final song to cap off their 39-minute long set.

It was next to impossible to not get completely lost in this show. It radiated positive, feel good vibes, and simply listening to the music made you happy. You can’t forget about the solid performance, either. I imagine a lot of effort has to go into making a nine-piece band so cohesive, but it pays off, ‘cause they killed it this night. That includes Steve, who had to use sheet music to know what to play, but still fit well with the band.

They offered a fun change of pace for the night, and everyone took to it.

The Suffers will be back in Dallas on September 27th for Index Festival. They’ll be playing plenty of other festivals, too. From Houston No Limits Cityfest on September 6th, to Untapped Fest on the 20th and Lone Star Festival in early November. All of those are in Houston, and they also have a show in late October at CMJ in New York. You can also grab the few songs they do have over in iTUNES.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 – Wesley Geiger Tells Some Tales at Trees

The show at Trees this night was all in celebration for the new record Somebody’s Darling was releasing, and they had orchestrated a great bill that involved some friends of theirs. Friends like Wesley Geiger, who had been charged with opening the show.

Seeing a solo artist on the stage at Trees is a semi-rare sight; but even by himself, Wesley easily reeled in the crowd, which grew gradually as he mesmerized people with his opening number. He addressed the audience after that, mentioning what an “honor” it was to be sharing the stage with Somebody’s Darling. He also noted that he did not have an album out yet, but would be releasing one come November. “…I’m going to be playing some songs off it…” he said before doing a song I believe he said was titled “Shine On”. “…Sometimes it looks dark, but it just needs a spark…” went one of the lines.

It was already clear the common thread between his songs was they all focused on telling stories, all of which were rich in detail and emotion. “How y’all doing tonight?” Wesley asked once he had finished that tune. He informed everyone that he had lived in California for a while, and had actually just moved back to Texas recently. “I don’t know why I ever left,” he remarked, drawing a lot of cheers from the crowd with that one. He added he had spent a lot of time in the desert during his travels, which was where most of these songs came from. He proceeded to pluck away at his acoustic guitar, an anguished look spreading across his face on the little intro he gave “As the Crow Flies”. He was quite expressive during all of these songs.

He kept the sort of storytellers vibe up by noting this next song was one of the first he ever wrote, back when he was still in high school. If I heard correctly, it was titled “Tired Town”; and once it had been completed, he again told the onlookers he didn’t have any merch, but encouraged everyone to go get the new Somebody’s Darling album. His forthcoming debut record will be titled El Dorado, and now he did the title track from it. “…It’s a mythological city…” he said, which everyone surely knows. “It’s also a real city in Arkansas,” he finished, which was something probably not everyone was wise to.

I thought “El Dorado” was the best track he did this night. It told a story of searching and longing, about people who just wanted to find something to help make them complete. Already, his set was nearly over, and he finished with a song he said was real special to him. “It’s done me a lot of good spiritually. Emotionally, mentally, physically,” he said, chuckling a bit as he said those last two words, which appeared to be added more for fun. You could tell it was another song he really connected with, and it was a good end to his 35-minute long set.

Wesley Geiger was a perfect opener for this bill, and the Americana singer/songwriter spun a series of songs that intrigued you. You got the sense he has already lived a long life, and he’s put his experiences to pen and paper in a perfect manner.

Again, his debut, El Dorado, is apparently due out in just a few months, and judging by the taste everyone got this night, that will be an album well worth having.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 – Somebody’s Darling Rolls a Homecoming and Album Release Show into One Grand Event

This night wasn’t all that different from October 6th, 2012.

Well, it was considerably warmer than that October night nearly two years ago; but the other circumstances were quite similar.

Back in late 2012, Somebody’s Darling finished up a tour in their hometown, a show that also served as the album release party for their sophomore record, Jack City Shakedown.

The venue was different this night, and Trees can accommodate far more people than the club they did their last CD release at. The space was needed, too. This was also their first show back since completing a tour, which included some dates in Wisconsin and Illinois earlier in the month, while this Dallas show was their fourth straight, after doing a run through Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

Trees was pretty packed even during the main support act; and when 10:30 rolled around, people were already claiming their spots in front of the stage. By the time the curtain opened at 10:50, you were pretty much stuck where you were at, as folks stood shoulder to shoulder with one another.

The band had promised to play everything off the new album Adult Roommates, and they began tackling the release with the sixth cut off it, “Vowels Flow”. “Where’s your honey? Where’s your soul?” singer and rhythm guitarist Amber Farris crooned at the start, adding a lot of soul into the roots/rock number. Their performance exploded before the final chorus, when the quintet went all-out on the instrumental section, and Amber hunched over her guitar, tearing it up, as she first walked over to lead guitarist David Ponder, and then went to bassist Wade Cofer on stage left, before returning to the main mic.

“Alright!” she shouted in her twangy voice, as if to say they were just getting warmed up. With that, they went into the newly released single and lead track, “Bad Bad”, with Nate Wedan laying down a beat that was perfect to bob your head to. These songs may be new, but they have been worked into the live shows for months. Even back in January and February (the last two times I saw them) they were doing large amounts of new material. So, their fans are familiar with them, and that was what was cool about tonight. People already love these songs, and “Bad Bad” was one that received some mighty cheers as they started it.

The night wasn’t entirely about the new stuff, though.

“Where you at, Dallas?! Where you at?!” Amber asked, getting a loud response from everyone. “Let me tell you something,” she added. Nate had already started on the drum bed for the next song, and Amber then jumped right into the lyrics. “Well, I believe God made a lover for me…” she sang on “Back to the Bottle”. They played half of the songs from that previous release, and this one raised the excitement level considerably, especially during the instrumental jam, where the keys Mike Talley was playing where highlighted. David and Amber stood back to front with each other as they cranked out some notes, and shortly after, she and Wade were face to face with one another, rocking out. Her face was seldom seen during that time, as it was shrouded by her long, curly locks.

“Thanks, goddammit!” exclaimed Amber after brushing the hair from her face. “How you doing, Trees?!” she then asked, getting another rise from everyone. “That feels good. I love you guys!” she remarked with a warm smile on her face. As she spoke, a large cloud of smoke billowed out from the stage towards the audience; and then they went for one of their heartbreakers. Upon hearing it back in January, “Come to Realize” was an instant favorite of mine; and I do believe they made some tweaks while recording it. It sounded more fleshed out than I recalled, though it’s still wrought with emotion. “So I think about the morning, the way the coffee fell, and I came to realize I was by myself. And I wanted to know, was it me? Was it you?” goes the second verse of the song that epitomizes heartache. Wade lent his voice to the track, helping with some backing vocals on the chorus, and together, he and Amber sounded quite impressive.

“We’re selfish, and we like to throw parties for ourselves,” Amber joked afterwards, saying that was why they had The Suffers open up for them (that soul band from Houston had a party going in their own right.) “Let’s do it!” Amber finished, informing everyone this next song was titled “Set It Up”. David served up a superb solo during it; and upon finishing it, Amber mentioned that everyone in the band had done some writing on this new album, something that hasn’t happened in the past.

Mike was responsible for writing the next one. “It goes like this,” stated Amber. Mike and Wade crooned along with her on the profound chorus of “End of the Line”, “This is the oldest we have been; this is the youngest we will ever be.” There were many haunting elements about it as they slowed the pace down; and upon reaching the final chorus, the crowd burst into another round of cheers.

“Where you at, Dallas?!” Amber again asked, before informing everyone they had got home at five in the morning after their show in Austin. “This is why we do this,” she said, beaming at all the North Texas residents who had come out to support this night. David showed off his skills with another slickly done solo during “Same Record”; and once it was over, Amber asked for everyone to give it up for Wesley [Geiger], who had opened the show. “Once again, we’re selfish. We like to throw parties,” she joked.

“Alright, now here we go,” she said, as they brought out another oldie in the form of “Weight of the Fear”. The one thing with older tracks a band has been playing for a few years is that they have done it so many times, it’s just second nature. That was highlighted with that staple from Jank City. The clap along that came at the lull made everyone a part of the song; and David was killing it, often capturing everyone’s full attention.

“Cheers, Dallas!” Amber shouted, making a toast to all their friends and fans. “…We’ve been a band for a long time, and we’re excited to still be doing it,” she said, speaking of having a chance to put out yet another record. That said, they kept going with album number two, by doing “Keep Shakin’”. The amount of cheers and whistling that followed the end of that song was unreal. Everyone here was a die-hard Somebody’s Darling fan, and they were making it well known.

“Can I introduce the band?” asked Amber, who then took a few minutes to introduce “Red Pants on guitar” (AKA David Ponder), as well as Nate “Grizzly Bear”. “I stole the best bass player in town, and I don’t feel bad about it,” she remarked before naming Wade. Once that was taken care of, Amber swapped out her electric guitar for an acoustic. She said a few of them had a hand in writing this next one, as did Jonathan Tyler (of Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights.) It was the next to last song off the album, “Smoke Blows”, and despite the acoustic, it wasn’t that slow of a song.

The five-piece even dug all the way back to their first album, and the lone track they did from it was “Cold Hearted Lover”. Even now, it’s still a beloved tune, and peoples reaction to it this night proved that. Afterwards, something surprising happened. Wade, who is usually silent sans the backing vocals, spoke. “You guys know how to bounce?” he asked. “Come on, we need everybody to bounce,” he said, trying to get some movement going before one of the singles off Jank City Shakedown, “Cold Hands”. There wasn’t much jumping about, though Amber did try to get another clap along going. It started off slow, with few participants, though. “I see you in the back. We’re not starting till you’re all doing it,” she told the audience, prompting some more people to get involved. “I need this!” she shouted enthusiastically.

No sooner had they finished, and then David started them onto to the next one. Amber just laughed and shook her head. “We weren’t gonna do it, but let’s do it. Screw it,” she said. In the last year plus, they’ve made Faces’ “Stay with Me” into a staple of their longer sets, and I don’t think anyone would have viewed the night complete if they hadn’t done it. It became a massive sing-along, not just with the crowds aiding them, but also some of the many musicians who had come out to support their friends this night. Most of Goodnight Ned got up on stage and helped on the choruses, as did Corey Howe, from Dead Flowers.

“We’re happy that Trees let us party here tonight,” said Amber, thanking the venue one last time before they wrapped their 68-minute long set up with the final track, “Keep This Up”. More clapping was required as they gave their set a fun sendoff, as was singing. Even if people didn’t know the lyrics, the refrain of, “How can I keep this up?” was easy to pick up on.

If there hadn’t been a couple of songs missing, you would have thought they were done. But everyone knew better, and after a couple minutes of shouting, Amber ran back down the stairs from the green room and out on the stage.

“We got to get the boys out!” she said, looking that way. David returned, as did Nate, who simply sit behind the kit and watched his band mates during “Two Lords”. Amber had her hands free, and David grabbed the acoustic. “…It’s super meaningful to us. We wrote it about a buddy of ours,” she said before the song, which deals with two fellow musicians who took their own lives. “…I wish I could have told them I’d hate they way they leave,” went one of the lines of what was a chilling song, and one only those familiar with the D/FW music scene will truly understand and appreciate.

The full band was intact now, and they had saved their biggest two for last. “Wedding Clothes” was one; and as Nate rolled them into the last song, he proceeded to clap along to the beat he was delivering on the kick drum. Much of the crowd joined along. “Generator” was the final song they had to do off Adult Roommates, and it has been a routine closer for many months now. “Thank you again Dallas for coming out…” Amber said during the instrumental break, pointing out that the album wouldn’t be available digitally until September 16th, so everyone here was getting the “exclusive”.

That powerhouse number concluded not only their 14-minute long encore, but also one epic night.

This was what an album release show should be. A club packed with fans who are anxious not only about getting their hands on the latest release from a band they love, but also seeing them pull out all the stops to make this something more than just your average show.

The last few times I had seen Somebody’s Darling they were clicking on a level that affirmed they were one of the areas’ best. That was still holding true this night. The showmanship, the musicianship and even the way it was all executed was no different from that of a bigger ticket act you’d pay good money to see here at Trees.

That’s why Somebody’s Darling has built such a solid reputation not only here in Dallas/Fort Worth, but even in the Mid-West — where they often tour. That’s why they can pack out pretty much ever show they do: because they deliver an experience each time they take the stage.

It’s only been five years since they released album number one, and each follow-up they’ve put out in the last few years has proven to be a cut above their previous material. With Adult Roommates, they’ve crafted something that has more depth and feeling and in a more mature manner than their previous stuff; and in a couple of years, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be talking about another album, where they have outdone themselves yet again.

“Bad Bad” is available as a single, with the full album dropping on September 16th. In the meantime, if you don’t have their first two records, you can get them in iTUNES (as well as pre-order Adult Roommates.) Their next show will be on September 13th at Panther Island Pavilion in Fort Worth (as part of The Toadies Dia de los Toadies music festival). They also have a short tour planned in October, with shows in Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Raleigh, NC, on October 17th, 18th, and 19th, respectively. Specifics can be found HERE.

Wayne Static Announces Co-Headline Tour with Powerman 5000

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Wayne Static, the founding member and leader of Evil Disco innovators Static-X will be hitting the road this fall on a co-headline run with Powerman 5000. American Head Charge will provide support on most dates. The tour will kick off November 6th in Waterloo, IA and is currently scheduled to run through November 30th in McCallen, TX. A complete list of dates can be found below. More dates will be added in the coming weeks.

STATIC on the upcoming tour:
“2014 has been an awesome year! We just finished up the 15th anniversary Wisconsin Death Trip tour. I’ve got the best band behind me that I’ve ever had, and I am very excited to round out the year with a co-headline tour with Powerman 5000. It’s another 15th anniversary tour! It’s a testament to both bands that we are both still going strong and the timing is perfect for us to tour together again. I am equally excited to share the stage with American Head Charge again. I believe it was 2005 when we toured together last. This is a great line up and this tour is gonna kill!”

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Wayne Static w/ Powerman 5000:
11/6: Waterloo, IA @ Spicoli’s Rock Garden/Reverb* 
11/7: Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon 
11/8: Kimberly, WI @ Savagefest @ Tanner’s Entertainment Complex 
11/9: Fort Wayne, IN @ Piere’s 
11/11: Joliet, IL @ Mojoe’s 
11/12: Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theater 
11/13: Flint, MI @ Machine Shop 
11/14: Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon 
11/15: Stafford, CT @ Palace Theater 
11/16: New York, NY @ BB Kings 
11/17: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage 
11/19: Wilmington, NC @ Ziggy’s 
11/21: Atalnta, GA @ 120 Tavern 
11/22: Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy’s 
11/23: Knoxville, TN @ The International 
11/26: San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live 
11/27: Tyler, TX @ Clicks 
11/28: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar 
11/29: Dallas, TX @ Trees 
11/30: McCallen, TX @ Metropolis

*No American Head Charge

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Friday, March 7th, 2014 – A Stellar Night of Local Rock at Trees

Most days now, Trees plays host to a slew of bigger name national touring acts who happen to be passing through Dallas. However, this night, it was all about the locals.

Nothing More was the main attraction, and after two months of downtime (and eight months since their last Dallas show), the San Antonio based outfit was making their return, while a lot of great area talent had been tapped to open.

In Memory of Man was charged with getting the show going, and hit the stage right at nine.

Guitarists Chad Beck and Johnny McConlogue, bassist Marcus Gonzales, drummer Javier Garza and keyboardist Matt Langley jammed on their instruments briefly, before Alex Lilly strode on stage as they wound things in to “Wanted”. The force behind that song is something else, and it beckoned those who had gathered around the stage towards the front for the impressive show that was just getting started.

Alex used Johnnys’ mic for one of the final lines of the track, just because, before Javier knocked out some drum beats to lead them into another action packed tune, “Headshot”. “We are In Memory of Man.” Alex informed the decent sized crowd, before continuing to try to hustle through what ended up being a 36-minute long set.

Those classics from their first EP were peppered in, but now they got back to their newly released full-length with “Something in the Taste”. “…And I wish I could go…” sang Alex, almost whispering at times, before the song roared back to life. “HOME!” he bellowed, throwing a fist in the air, before convulsing towards the end, during which he tripped over the drum kit, losing his balance for just a second, though he never fell.

With the headliners drums already occupying the drum riser, they had to set their kit up on the stage, which didn’t give them much room, but they made it work with ease.

“It’s good to be back at Trees.” remarked Alex, while his band mates started the subsequent track from their self-titled record, “New Eyes”. The song has a nice ebb and flow to it, exploring the bands softer side on the verses, and surging to life on the choruses.

Following it was a somewhat similar song from their first EP. “This song’s about a dream that changed my fucking life.” raid Alex, right before pouring some of his Miller Lite on his head. Chad and Johnny were creating some subtle guitar notes, before Javier began banging about on his kit, starting the amazing “Paper Planes”. “Where will we go when…” sang Alex on the chorus midway through the tune, being accompanied by Marcus, their two voices mixing brilliantly while the band dropped out for this fleeting a capella moment. They kicked it back in quick, though; and as it came to an end, Chad raised his guitar in the air, holding it as high as he could while still being able to strum it.

The flow of those last two songs were pretty good, going from a semi-slow song to one that begins that way, and now that they were back into full on rock mode, they kept the pace up with the darker track, “The Spider”. Alex got pretty into the aggressive drum beats at the end, banging his head to them, while Chad and Johnny knocked out the final chords, before making the seamless switch into “My Sweet”. “I found this down the rabbit hole…” Alex sang on the second chorus, his pristine voice completely taking the spotlight for a moment, as the instruments fell silent, but only for that one line.

Javier then got a little drum solo at the tail end, during which time Alex wrapped the microphone cord around his neck a few times in preparation of their final song. Matt’s skills on the keys were highlighted on “Picture Box”, especially at the start of what is probably the most epic song currently at the bands disposal, and it makes for one helluva way to end a show.

It’s too bad every concert can’t get off to this good a start, and it goes to show how much other talent was on this bill, when a band like In Memory of Man (who can and does headline) was giving the opening slot.

They owned it, though, being both precise and calculated, while giving themselves up completely to the Rock ‘n’ Roll spirits who coursed through their veins.

Next up on their calendar is a couple of album release shows. Sure, their new record has been available for a bit, but these shows will be for the release of a limited run of vinyl copies. One is March 22nd at Lola’s Saloon in Fort Worth, while their Dallas dates is slated for April 5th at Double Wide. They’ll also be back in Fort Worth on April 26th, this time at The Grotto.

If you want to sample In Memory of Man’s music, check out their REVEBRNATION PAGE and download their first EP for free. If you like, go buy their new album in iTUNES, or for you vinyl collectors, pick up a copy at one of the shows mentioned above.


Werewolf Therewolf was the second band up, and I ended up missing them completely, due to being out on the patio chatting with different people. In fact, I even missed the first little bit of The Raven Charter’s set, ‘cause time simply got away from me.

I think it safe to assume they began with the instrumental “Survival Kit”, as is their typical fashion, and has been for some time, now. When I walked in they were deep into a new song that hasn’t been played too much live. I wish I had caught more of it, but maybe next time. I enjoyed what I heard, though, and it served as more proof that the new stuff they’ll soon be laying down is their best yet.

They never took much time in between songs, and soon started the title track from their current EP, “Kidnapping”. I really enjoy the way they’ve been doing the past few times I’ve seen them, with lead vocalist Garrett Bond backing up singer and guitarist Daniel Baskind for the first line or two of each verse, before giving it all up to Daniel. The chorus of “Be quiet and don’t move, and we promise not to harm you…” belongs all to Garrett, though.

They followed it up with another semi-new one, the sample track for “No Direction” starting first, before Daniel and fellow guitarist Brandon Bond, along with drummer, Brian Christie, bassist Anthony Sosa and keyboardist Erik Stolpe laid their instruments over it. Brandon and Daniel (especially Brandon) rocked out on the instrumental break halfway through the song, slamming their guitars in a downward motion and quite aggressively, all in synch with Brians’ drumming.

Next came another new one, and I’m pretty certain I’m repeating myself when I say this is my new favorite song from The Raven Charter. “This won’t last forever; we’re on borrowed time. If this is our last night ever, I’m gonna make you mine.” Garrett shouts on the chorus; the music bed and his faster paced singing giving it a cool urgent vibe. Anthony killed it during that one, proving that as far as bassists go, he’s one of the top ones, and afterwards Garrett joked a bit with the massive crowd. “That song’s called Borrowed Time…” he said, adding, “…’Cause we only say that like eight fucking times.” He was enjoying basking in all the love they were already getting, and waited just a second for his band mates to get ready for the next song. “Oh, shit!” he suddenly exclaimed, before hurrying to get an acoustic guitar.

The sinful “Freela Deela” was one of their songs that had some co-singing going on, with some exceptional two to three-part harmonies even thrown in at times, and afterward, Garrett thanked Trees for having them out. “Bullshit, you like it more than that!” he retorted after not getting a loud enough reaction.

Those last two songs have at least been released as singles, but now they got back to some of the brand new material, doing one of their slick sounding songs that sees Erik playing a slow, lovely part on the keyboard midway through, giving the impression the song is over, before it kicks back in hard. Garrett even busted out his harmonica for a short stint on the track, and during a break, Erik picked up an acoustic guitar in preparation of the next song.

“Let me find this on the pad…” Garrett said while searching through his vocal effects pad. He noted this next song was one they hadn’t done in awhile, and that could mean only one thing, and I was excited by it. It had been some time since I last heard “Unfolding”, and Garrett wasn’t quite ready when they started it, missing singing the first word, but that was it. “I’m on my way to my destiny…” he crooned, while Erik stepped up to the forefront of the stage, plucking the strings of the acoustic.

There set had passed by too quickly (or maybe I’m just used to seeing them play a little longer), because now, they were on their final song, which was none other than “Denton, TX”. Anthony viciously stomped his feet on the stage during the brief break before Garrett belted out, “
Now I’ve gone and done it, so point the finger at me…”, as Erik lifted his keyboard of the stand and held it up in the air for all to see.

In some ways, this was the best show I’ve seen them do recently (and by that I mean out of the two other TRC shows I’ve seen this year). Part of that was probably because this was fairly high profile show. Not only were they playing Trees, they were also opening for their good friends in Nothing More, and you could tell they stepped it up from the A game that usually bring in the first place.

The show this night just had a more polished feel to it then even those others in question, and by the time they were done, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand.

They’re just more of a unique rock band, from the blend of harmonies found on some songs, to just the interesting twist on rock music, and their new record is going to turn some heads. I’m not saying it’ll be on a national scale (though that would be great), but I sense it will.

With recording starting next month, they’ll be laying low on the shows for awhile, and March 29th at Rubber Gloves in Denton will be their next show (they also have a June 6th date booked there). As of right now, they also only have one show in the month of April and one in the month of May, and both will be at Tomcats West in Fort Worth (April 18th and May 4th). They also have a Dallas gig slated for June 28th at The Boiler Room.

Head over to their REVERBNATION PAGE to download their two newest singles for free, and if you like that, then check out their two EP’s in iTUNES. They should whet your appetite for their debut full-length that will be dropping later this year.

Now it was time for the band everyone was waiting for, Nothing More (and if you want my review of their show, it was an exclusive for On Tour Monthly, and can be found HERE.)

Friday, June 22nd, 2013 – Nothing More

Trees was the place to be this night, as the venue played host to a night of local bands, some from the Dallas area, and others were more regional, hailing from other parts of Texas.

One of those regional bands was The Last Place You Look, a band that primarily sticks to their hometown of Houston, making this Dallas show a rare one for the group.

They had brought some lights with them, as four panels set scattered across the pitch black stage, while the four instrumentalists produced some notes and beats to lead them into their first song. Then, vocalist Nava strode on stage as they exploded into a track from their “See the Light Inside You” record, “Don’t Make it so Easy”. Being relatively early, there wasn’t much of a crowd, but those who were there seemed instantly captivated by the raw rock sound and Navas’ booming bass voice, which is one of the most unique ones out there. “…We’ll all change the world someday, just don’t forget what we’re fighting for…” he belted out on the chorus of that killer track. As soon as it came to an end, guitarists, Derek Young and Richard Sherwood, drummer, Mikey Garcia and bassist Kevin Pool wound them into another dynamic track from their most recent album, “Just Let it Go”.

“It’s been about three years since the last time we played Dallas.” Said Nava, adding, “We’ve written some new stuff in three years.” With that, they did a couple of newer tracks, both of which were every bit as aggressive and fast-paced as their older songs, though there might have been a little more of an edge to the new stuff. The audience barely had time to applaud the band of that second new song when they launched into “Lie to the Silence”, and afterwards slowed things down a bit with “Band to Save Me”. It’s hard evidence that they are capable of more than just roaring guitar riffs and heavy bass lines and drum beats, as it has more of a slow acoustic vibe, before cresting to a point that can rival their other stuff.

During one last conversation with the crowd, Nava mentioned they shouldn’t wait another three years to come back to Dallas, a sentiment everyone seemed to agree with, and then noted they had two songs left. “Come on, Dallas!” shouted Mikey as they tore off on another song, which was arguably one of the best of their set, then ended their 35-minute long set with “I’ve Got a Question for You… Why Are You Still Here?”, which is one of their most brutal songs, and brought things to a fantastic finish.

I understand why The Last Place You Look was relegated to the first slot, since they aren’t that well known in these parts, but they deserved to go on much later than what they did. Every aspect of their performance was very well calculated, and there’s no way you could watch them and just think they are your run-of-the-mill band.

Nava was electric, storming about the stage, making the most out of the little room he had, and did everything from jumping up on the drum riser to standing on the monitors, towering over the crowd. Richard, Derek and Kevin were a little more confined with their movements, but their musicianship managed to balance it out, as they shredded on their instruments, often in pretty tight synchronize with the drums, which Kevin was playing like no one’s business.

Honestly, they’re show is every bit as good as many national touring bands, and hopefully they’ll bring that lively performance back to Dallas sometime soon. At least sooner than three years from now.

Now that their tour with Nothing More is done, the calendar for The Last Place You Look is empty, but keep an eye on it, ‘cause they’ll surely be doing something soon. In the meantime, they have an LP and an EP you can and should check out in iTUNES.

Following them up was Dallas’s own Ursa, who I hadn’t seen in about a year, and they had been laying low as of late.

“Let’s do this.” You heard singer Michael Keeney say, before the lights dimmed and the curtain was drawn open.

“This Is Your Captain Speaking” began their brief 32-minute long set, and it served as a good warm-up song for the band, while being one that actively engaged their fans. The quintet had some new songs peppered in throughout their set, and did one here, and it helped them hit their stride as they found their performer personas. They had just seemed a bit rigid during that opening number, but now guitarists Jovan Santos and Dave Perez sprang more into action, commanding the audience better, while Michael started to more prowl about the stage as he does in a way that is completely unique to his character.

They solidified their footing on one of their fan favorites, “Aim to Please”, where Michaels’ voice soared on the chorus, “…I will break your fall to absorb your pain…” Considering their long absence from a stage, they had gotten back in the swing of things pretty quickly, and their next two new songs, which were segued together, were the best of their show. The first of the two was very percussion driven, and the credit for that goes to the talented drummer Ross Rubio, and bassist Pat Llull helped round out that rhythm sound. The next tune featured some catchy guitar riffs, and was just all around a killer song.

Their set wound down just like their self-titled debut album does, with the next to last track from it, “Buffalo”, which is equal parts instrumental music and vocal parts, and at around six minutes (give or take) in length, it’s easily their most epic song. It was followed by the subsequent and final song on the record, “Apogee”, which brought their set to a mighty finish.

It was a pretty great, though it seemed to pass by all too quickly. Not that, that’s necessarily a bad thing, it just means it was so enjoyable it didn’t seem as long as it really was.

They really took charge of things and owned it, and honestly, this was probably the second best show I’ve seen the band put on. Aside from that, they just have some well crafted music that is sure to get your attention, and Michael has a more distinctive voice than most singers do.

You can download their first album for free by going to their REVERBNATION PAGE, and while there you can also have a listen to one of the new tracks from their forthcoming record.

Moving Atlas was supposed to have the main support slot this night, but a family emergency with one of the band members meant they had to cancel. Picking up the slack for them, though, was Little Sisters of the Poor, which does happen to feature one-fifth of Moving Atlas, and this was only the bands third electric show.

The super group ripped into their 45-minute long set with one of the two singles they had released thus far, “Spires”. The driving drumbeats Gabe Muzquiz was playing at the start definitely called everyone’s attention to the band, and things only got better as the guitars and bass lines were laid over it. It thrust everyone right into the music, giving everyone a pretty good idea of what the band was about, and they continued their barrage of music as Jason Jones wound them right into their next song, which I believe was “Love, Money and Death”, with some sweet licks. From it they transitioned directly (and smoothly) into their next song before taking a break after finishing it.

“We are called Little Sisters of the Poor.” Said front man Dunagin Gaines, who soon announced the bands next song, “Ruins”. I recalled it being one of my favorites from their first gig, though it got off to a slower start than I remembered. It soon exploded into one of their best songs of the night, though, with Dunagin aggressively shouting part of the chorus, “…Structures turn to ruins. Ruins turn to bones…” Afterwards, they changed the mood up with a song that got off to a bit of a slow, eerie start, which was rather behooving of the song and set an excellent mood. Eventually, it rose to life, though, and at one point during it Dunagin even hopped up on the drum riser than leapt off it.

“This is what we call dead air.” He said in the silence that followed that previous song, which occurred because his band mates were tuning their instruments. They ran through a couple more songs, one of which was a much lighter song than most of their other stuff, though had a nice vibe to it. “I know most of these songs are new to you, but this one’s new to us.” Dunagin stated before they tackled “Truck Stop Heaven”. I dug the song at their acoustic set the previous Friday, but it sounded much better now, being fleshed out with the electric sounds from Jason and Jackson Dunn’s guitars, and bassist Joe Becker was able to get more into it now that he wasn’t having to hold back.

That led them to their final song, which was another one they laid down on their first trip to the studio and have since released. That song was “Cooker”, and it’s quite possibly the best song in the bands arsenal. It’s raw and volatile, just like any good rock song should be, and it was one last opportunity for Jackson, Joe, Jason, Gabe and Dunagin to cut loose and give it their all. Actually, on that note, Jason could be seen letting loose a few moves on his guitar that any FEDS fan would remember from that band’s song, “Housefire”.

It was one hell of a way to end one hell of a set, and before the curtain closed, Dunagin made sure to thank Moving Atlas for letting them fill the slot on this bill.

They might not have much more live show experience together as a group, but it was evident they seemed a little more cohesive then they were at their first show. But on the flip-side, with each of them being longtime veterans of the scene, it doesn’t matter much that this is still a new band for them, because they’re all completely comfortable on stage and now just how to act as performers.

They may be a very young band, but I already think they are worthy of being one of the best rock groups currently in the D/FW metroplex, and if you haven’t seen one of their shows yet, go check them out and you’ll surely end up agreeing with that.

Their next gig will be at the Curtain Club in Dallas on July 26th, and if you go into iTUNES you can find a few of their singles, and they should be releasing a few more in the coming months.

Bringing the night to a close was San Antonio’s own Nothing More, who was headlining Trees for the first time ever.

This was a big show for the band, because after touring on their last record for about four years now, they were finally getting around to releasing a new album. An album they’ve spent the last few years working on and they had been touring the region heavily since releasing it just a few weeks prior to this. In fact, Dallas was the seventh stop on the tour that encompassed various parts of Texas and the neighboring states.

At 12:08 the lights dimmed and the rather large crowd roared with excitement as the band eased into their massive set…

An instrumental prelude started off their set, and Daniel Oliver was seen strumming the strings of his bass rather than plucking them, which made a very fluid sound. Some guitar riffs and slight drumbeats were eventually added in, courtesy of Mark Vollelunga and Paul O’Brien, respectively. Mark even raised his guitar to his mouth, plucking a few strings with his teeth, resulting in a killer, ear piercing sound, but it wasn’t until the backing track kicked on that the song was revealed. It was the lead track from their new self-titled record and one of the small handful of new tracks that has been in their live set for a while, now, and that was “Ballast”.

“When did we become these sinking stones? When did we build this broken home?…” roared singer Jonny Hawkins at the start of this newer and immediate fan favorite, which had a majority of the crowd already singing along and pumping their fists in the air as things got off to a ferocious start. They followed it right up with one of many songs that made their Dallas debut this night, and one I had been anxiously waiting to hear live for a very long time, “Christ Copyright”. Jonny belted out the chorus, “They’re selling heaven tonight. Sign on the dotted line. They got your Christ on copyright.”, as did the throng of passionate fans who were obviously already very deeply invested in the bands set.

Sure, this night was all about the new album, but some older stuff was still sprinkled throughout the show, and bridging that song to the next was an instrumental from the old “Save You/Save Me” record, “Under The Eyes of Selene”, which is dominated by Mark as he shredded on his axe. It soon gave way to the song it is a prelude to, “Sixty Second Affair”, a song that I’m glad still has a place in the bands setlist. The song is just one of a plethora of examples of how tight a unit Nothing More really is, with Dan and Mark adding some backing vocals on the chorus, “I feel, I feel.” With Jonny chiming in right after, “I’m going out of my mind.” Granted, many bands utilize backing vocals in a similar way, but it’s just different with these guys and it seems more precise than most. It was the ending, though, that took the cake, as Jonny put his drum kit to use, adding some additional percussion to the rapid beats Paul was already producing. He tore it up on his smaller three-piece kit, alternating which drum stick he was playing with and the one not in use at the moment got flipped in the air before he struck it against one of the drums.

Not long ago you could expect to hear most of “The Few Not Fleeting” record at a NoMo show, but this night only a handful of songs from it were touched. They managed to hit the highlights, though, and from that previous song wound it right into the in-your-face and emotionally charged song, “Gone”. Afterwards, they did another somewhat emotional song, though in a far different way from that previous song about Jonnys’ mother’s battle with cancer. Instead, the next song took a look at today’s society, and at the start of “Mr. MTV” Mark again used his teeth as a pick for his guitar. “…Just one bite to understand, even Eve couldn’t live without the iPlan”. That was one of the lines of that song I found the most intriguing, then, towards the end, Jonny revealed he’s still unearthing different qualities to his voice, screaming/bellowing in a very low register, reminiscent of some metal bands, on the line, “Do this, buy that. Get my drugs and sex. More drugs, want sex, need sex.”

It was then time for another oldie, and one I longed to hear, though had kept my expectations low. But as soon as Mark fired up “Bullets And Blue Eyes”, I reached a state of euphoria (or rather got more euphoric than I had already been). Even after hearing all their new stuff that one still remains my favorite nothing More song. “…You never hold me when you’re sober. To hell with our love. You drink the blood…” sang Jonny on the song’s bridge, before holding the microphone out towards the audience, allowing them to finish the line, “And I’ll drink the wine.” Sensational. Absolutely sensational.

Most times I would say that song was the pinnacle of their set, but not this night, and they weren’t anywhere close to letting up, either, as they new song that they’ve been performing for well over a year now, “First Punch”. “I’ll throw the first punch, because I’ve kept my mouth shut for far too long…” goes the chorus, setting a great mood about being fed up with a situation and taking matters into your own hands. As the song trailed off, Jonny walked over to stage right and grabbed the stand that fits into the wrought iron framework that his drums fit into, going back to his kit and placing it in its slot. Then, with the stand facing the crowd, Dan removed his bass and placed it on it. Their stunt with the bass is part of what captivates a person who witness their live shows, but a majority of their North Texas fans most likely missed the bands last stop through town, when they were on tour with Adrenaline Mob, having no clue they were about to see a whole new spin put on an old trick.

Dan ran his fingers along the strings, up and down the neck, and Mark soon joined him, standing on the opposite side of the bass and tapping some string, all the while Jonny worked Dans’ pedal board while Paul rocked out on the drums. After that had gone on a few minutes, Dan spun the rod that held the bass, causing it to do a 360 plus a 180, then was set into place upside down, with the neck pointing down at the crowd. Throughout the course of this the fans were chanting along, “HEY, HEY, HEY…” over and over, and at this point Jonny joined in, grabbing some drum sticks and jumping on top of his bass drum, using the sticks to play the bass as Mark and Dan held down the strings. Periodically, they would even quickly spin the bass over. It’s truly one of the most original things I’ve ever seen any band do, and that alone is worth going to a Nothing More show. Seriously, everyone should experience that moment firsthand at least once, and to get an idea of what I’m talking about watch THIS video.

Once they got back to their positions, Dan thanked the crowd, going as far as saying as this “ is the best night of our lives.” That’s saying a lot, and even if that might have been an overstatement, this was no doubt the best night they had ever had in Dallas.

They got back to album tracks with the extremely catchy “If I Were”, and like every other song of theirs, it’s a powerhouse tune.  “Here’s To The Heartache” was another killer number and was also quite uplifting, with the basic message being that everything happens for a reason. So far, things had been pretty standard, but they ended up having one major surprise up their sleeve, and they unveiled it now.

“…If you’ve seen us a lot, you know we never play this song…” said Jonny, a sentence that can be uttered by any band in existence in any variation and it’s guaranteed to instantly pique the interest of every fan in attendance. He added it had probably been three years since they last played it, and out of the many years I’ve been supporting these guys, the only time I ever heard this song performed live was up in Denton at the now renamed Boiler Room, probably around three to four years ago.

“You’re the ghost in my mind, thorn in my side. Sober in my dreams, you’re dead in real life…” Jonny crooned as they played the short prelude known as “Dirge”, which set up the seldom heard “Fell in Love with a Ghost”. “It’s the seasons for reasons to justify treason, you’re leaving and letting me die alone. The spirits you wear show the sins that you bear, with every drink you’re letting me go…” he sang, spitting the words out at a lightning pace. It was awesome getting to hear that song, which I look at as being one of the best tracks form their ’09 release, again, and it was one of the many highlight songs of their show.

Bridging that song to the next was a soft bass solo, as most of the stage lights dimmed, while Dan was bathed in bright white light. That served as an unexpected segue into the extremely heavy and thick, “The Matthew Effect”. It was on this song that they, specifically Jonny, made the only mistake of the show, or at least the only one I caught. He flubbed a portion of the first verse, tripping over the words and losing his place and had a brief look of disbelief, like he couldn’t believe he had done that. That makes sense, since that’s another song they’ve been doing for a while now, and every time I’ve seen them it has been flawless. It wasn’t a total disaster, though, as Mark stepped up to sing a few words before Jonny got back on track, and it was smooth sailing from then on.

During the next break in between songs, the guys made sure to dedicate this show to singer/songwriter Paco Estrada, a man whom they often said is one of the reasons they are a band, as he helped them in their formative years. Now they also thanked him for all the work he put in with helping them on this new album, and he helped co-write several of the songs they did this night. Once that was out of the way, the band welcomed Nava of The Last Place You Look on stage, saying he lent his voice on the next track, and he was going to do the same thing for the live version.

The two dynamic front men somewhat co-sang “Sex & Lies”, a song about being cheated on, and is filled with wonderful lines like, “…I wanna to hear it from the whore, the horse’s mouth…”, and, “…Now that you’ve slept with the town, I’ll burn this damn place to the ground…”. As they reached the end, the rest of The Last Place You Look ran up on stage, and just about every single one of the musicians harmonized on the final part, “Ooooh, oooh…”, which was really set off by Nava’s deep voice. Upon finishing it they joked that when they first wrote that song they never thought they’d get Nava to add some vocals on it, let alone be able to tour with the band and have them sing it that way live. “…We did imagine that when we did that song live we’d be joined by a bunch of drunken pirates, though…” Mark added laughing.

I knew they had been playing for a while, simply because of all the songs they had squeezed in, though the time had flown by, and now they had just one more left. In typical Nothing More fashion, they concluded their 66-minute long set with “Salem”, complete with one of the variations of their drum solo that they do. After the second chorus, both Dan and Mark grabbed the tom that sat on their respective sides of the stage, meeting at center stage, allowing Jonny to not only play his kit, but also bang on those two additional pieces, as the two flipped the toms around, constantly moving them to different spots in the air. Then, in closing, they got some more fan participation, as the audience shouted “BURN!” each time the mic was held out to them.

That had been one hell of a show, but there was one fan favorite that had gone un-played, and the fact that the curtain remained open gave hope that they might do it yet.

Only a few seconds passed before they returned to the stage for what they made clear would be their final song. “I used to be a slave to the cookie.” Said Dan, offering that short sentence in place of the lengthy speech that used to set up the following song, which was “Fat Kid”, and with it they rounded out the night perfectly.

Best Nothing More show ever? Possibly, at least out of the dozen plus that I’ve seen.

The time and effort they put into learning all these new songs for the live show bled through during their performance, and you could tell they had rehearsed everything to a tee, and the final payoff was these songs seeming like they had been played live hundreds of times. It was all so tight, so precise, but never to the point of coming across as mechanical.

Their show is something to behold and marvel at, and with all the energy they pack into each individual song, let alone the entire show, they can easily upstage most big name national touring bands, and that’s a standard expectation of their shows, and one they never fail to meet. In fact, and perhaps it was just for these CD release shows, but all the same, they pushed themselves to a new level this night, which is an impressive feat.

As for this new album, as much as I hated waiting for years to get it, it was worth the long wait. In all there are seventeen tracks on it (some of which are preludes and such), and minus those preludes there are thirteen amazing songs, none of which you’ll skip over.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy, and for the time being it’s only available from their STORE or at live shows. You can also purchase their older stuff on iTUNES. As for shows, they’ve wrapped up their CD release tour and are taking a little break, and for now their only upcoming dates are August 1st at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas and September 14th at the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, California.

This was an amazing night, and one of the best shows I’ve seen in some time, or even ever for that matter, and I bet it’ll be a little while before this one gets topped.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 – Dope Stars Inc. Invades the U.S., but The Rabid Whole Steals the Show

I hadn’t originally planned on going to Trees this night. In fact, I wasn’t even aware the venue was hosting a show this night, until about a week before when a friend forwarded an email along to me from the PR guy for one of the bands. Long story short, I offered to go to the show to review it and got guest listed to do just that.

The only hometown act on this bill was the first act, Sinsect, who started their set at 8:20.

They were a duo, and set up like a DJ would be, with both James Ashley and Joe Virus operating a few synthesizers. Their first few songs were all instrumental, as cranked out their electronic pieces with various sample tracks intertwining with them. Things got even worse with James began singing on their last two songs, doing some full on singing for their final number, while he just added the occasional line on another. His voice was essentially auto-tuned and had a very digital sounding effect to it, which I disliked it because you couldn’t tell what he was capable of on his own.

All of that resulted in me not liking their set a whole lot, and at least it was short, even though it felt like it lasted forever.

I guess I should say I’m not a huge fan of the kind of music in the first place, but still, I have seen a band or two who are completely electronic like this, and then their singer has blow my mind with his voice. That wasn’t the case with Sinsect, though, and not only did their music do nothing for me, but James, or rather his voice, hid behind all the effects. Who knows, maybe that was for the best, but then again, what does that say about you as a singer?

If you’re curious to listen to their stuff, well, they do have an album, “A Broken Hero”, which can be purchased in ITUNES.

Well, at least the night was bound to get better with the next act, and that was The Rabid Whole from Toronto, Ontario.

This was the band whose PR guy I had been in contact with, and after listening to their stuff online, I was ecstatic to see what they were like in the live setting.

As the curtain opened on them, a cloud of smoke engulfed stage left, then slowly billowed out towards the crowd, making it easier to see bassist Oscar Anesetti. The band bills themselves as a 21st Century Alternative Rock outfit, and they definitely looked the part with their jackets and other attire which had a futuristic look to it.

They waited on the sample track to lead them in to their first song, while Chalsey Noelle laced some beautiful piano notes over it via her keyboard. It was the calm before the storm, though, as guitarist George Radutu, drummer JJ Tartaglia and Oscar soon ripped into “Stargazer”. “I’m still expecting you to break my fall, assuming everything goes wrong…” belted out frontman Andreas Weiss on the chorus, who was racing about the stage and often propping one leg up on the monitors, gazing out at the crowd while he sang. Before the final chorus, he placed the microphone back in the stand, picking up his guitar, shredding on it while signing the remainder of the song. That was the extent of his guitar playing, at least for the time being, though, and he placed it back in its stand once the song concluded.

With that one song they had pulled almost everyone up to the front of the stage, even if everyone was only about two dozen people, and after allowing just enough time for the crowd to applaud and cheer for them, they fired up “Delusion”. It was followed by another song from their “Refuge” album, “Corporate”, which was a infectious and powerful number, partly about chasing your dreams. “…It’s the day that my friend turned corporate. Hard to think that this shell was once a man…” Andreas sang on the chorus. There were also some moments of the song where he softly whispered a few lines, giving it somewhat of a chilling tone.

They let up after that one, at least long enough for Andreas to mention that this was their first ever time in Dallas and that they were excited to be here. He of course also noted that they had some stuff for sale back at their merch table, and then they got back to it with a song from their 2009 debut album, “Autraumaton”, called “Selfish Nature”. Afterwards, Chalsey left her keyboard station which had kept her slightly out of view, joining her band mates at the front of the stage with what I will call a keytar. There was no real neck to it, so instead it looked like just a keyboard with a strap on it.

“We have a video for this next song. It’s called Future.” Andreas said hastily, as they started the lead track and single from their latest album. Maybe it’s because in listening to their stuff online it had become my favorite song of theirs, but I found it to be the best song of their set. It’s just a perfect blend of sheer rock with more electronic tones that can put you in a mood to dance, and Andreas and Chalsey’s voices fit well together as they each sang a few lines on the chorus, his having a more forceful, raw quality to it, while hers was more delicate and had a very pretty tone.

Following it was a slower song, at least slow by their standards, and that was the title track from their 2012 record, “Refuge”, which was another song that saw Chalsey doing a fairly good bit of singing. Once they finished it, Andreas walked up the stairs at the back of the stage, while Chalsey disappeared in the shadows of far stage right, as JJ took the spotlight, doing a killer drum solo. Really, a lot of drum solos are less than awe-inspiring, but he played a great piece that held your attention throughout. As it wound down, Chalsey got back behind her keyboards, while Andreas descended the stairs. He informed everyone they had one song left, maybe two, depending on if they had enough time.

In case this was their last song, they were going to go out with a bang with the aggressive, “Metro”, which featured a thick and heavy rhythm section. As luck would have it, they were able to do one more after that, and they chose to close their 38-minute long set with another older song, “All The Same”. Andreas again thanked everyone for coming out to the show while he put his guitar on. Near the end of it he asked everyone to help them out and repeat after him. “What does it take to make you bleed?” he sang, with only a few people shouting it back at him afterwards. He wasn’t too impressed, saying it was even worse than what the people of Portland did to try to entice everyone to get more into it. It worked, and the shouting grew stronger and louder as a few more people joined in. After the sing-along portion was over, Oscar proceeded to attack his bass, viciously slapping it as they finished up the song.

Their set was phenomenal, and even though there was a VERY sparse crowd at Trees this night, it still speaks volumes about The Rabid Whole that they were able to pull nearly everyone up to the stage and get them actively engaged in the music.

Speaking of their music, that’s what initially drew me in. It’s fun yet serious with a nice space rock sound, and while I wouldn’t say it’s original in the sense that what they are doing has never been done before, it is more unique, and I doubt you’ve heard many bands that pull of this musical style as well as they do. Aside from the music being easy to get into, you also have the lyrics, which are very well written and come across as telling fairly personal stories, which makes it easier for them to get behind it.

As impeccable as their music is, though, and as well as their energy translates onto the recordings, it’s their live show where it’s all at.

From the moment they started, they were going ninety miles a minute, never letting up for even a moment. They didn’t care that they were only playing for about thirty people, and I have a feeling they could have only had an audience of three and they still would have been putting on the same show. Why? Because they were obviously all having fun on that stage, and I think everyone quickly picked up on and was reeled in by that.

The only complaint I have is more of a technical issue, and that was that the main mic could have been a little louder out in the crowd, because at times I had trouble hearing Andreas while he was singing.

Aside from that, everything was perfect, and The Rabid Whole ended up stealing the show right out from under the headliner, as unintentional as it was.

Their current tour may be over, but keep an eye on their tour dates, either on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE or their FACEBOOK PAGE, especially if you live in Canada, since that is the bands home territory. You can also find their two albums in ITUNES, plus a remix of their first album. I would highly urge everyone to check out the “Refuge” record, as it’s one of those rare albums where every song is exceptional.

The headlining band for the night was Dope Stars Inc., who had traveled all the way from Rome, Italy to be here, and despite having been around for ten years now, this marked the bands first U.S. tour.

Traditionally, the band is evidently a five-piece, however, on this tour they were a trio, consisting of singer and guitarist Victor Love, bassist Darin Yevonde and drummer Mark Madhoney.

Oddly enough, they entered the stage to a good deal of fanfare, and evidently, most of the people were here for Dope Stars Inc.

I didn’t know what to expect, because I hadn’t even listened to their music beforehand. They had a real industrial rock sound, and were even alternative rock, and like the two bands that opened for them, they did have an electronic sound to an extent, even though that was all supplied through sample tracks.

Honestly, after their first song, I contemplated leaving, because I just didn’t care for it a whole lot, but I decided to stick around at least through the next couple of songs.

“…This is next one is called Vyperpunk!” Victor shouted, which resulted in some members of the crowd cheering with excitement. Like most of their songs, there was almost a techno sound to it, but in the most rocking way, and I found myself getting a little more into the music. Before starting their next song, Victor dedicated to Michael J. Fox, or at least that’s what I thought he said, but his accent was so thick (both when he was and wasn’t singing), I thought surely I had misheard him. Turns out I had understood him well enough, as they stared “Save the Clock Tower”, from their newest album, “Ultrawired”, a song that is a bit of an homage to the Back to the Future film series.

“It’s Today” was what did it for me, as it piqued my interest and ensured I’d stick it out for the rest of their set. It’s a riveting song, an anthem in a way, with Victor encouraging everyone that, “It’s today that we have to wake up all the energy we own…”, which is the first line of the course, before ending with, “…Our time is dead. Our time is now. And now is past.” They really seemed to hit their stride with that song, too, Darin pacing around the entire stage while he effortlessly tore it up on his bass. Actually, I had to look several times to make sure it was a bass he was playing, because as quickly as he was strumming the strings, it looked like it was a guitar. Aside from that, Mark was devastating it on the drums, often standing up from time to time as he continued to lay into his kit, while Victor was shredding on his guitar.

“It’s hot here in Texas.” Victor proclaimed, before they started their next song. They followed it with “10,000 Watts of Artificial Pleasures”, which got the biggest rise from their little fan base, as Victor first told everyone the song title, than asked something like, “Are you ready for the pleasures, Dallas?”. The aggressive “Bang Your Head” came next, which found Victor often snarling and yelling the words, and once it was over he set things up for Mark to do a drum solo, as he and Darin left the stage. The drum solo didn’t impress me to the extent the other one from the other band did, but it was still a great solo.

Once he put the finishing touches on it, Victor returned to the stage, with Darin eventually following suit, as they continued their barrage of songs, first with one I wasn’t able to figure out, and then doing what I believe was “Banksters”. They kept moving right along with “Make a Star”, from 2005’s “Neuromance” album, and then another track from their latest record, “Blackout”. Those songs weren’t slow by any means, but they really picked things back up with “Self Destructive Corp.”, while “Defcon 5” began to wind things down. At the end of that latter song, Darin, who resting a leg on the monitor, let his bass dangle in the air as he plucked one of the strings, then Victor announced they had one last song left. It was the title track of their 2009 album, “21st Century Slave”, which ended their 69 –minute long set. Now, a lot of their songs make statements in one way or another, most of which seem more social or political, but this one is probably the most notable. It deals with being a slave to the corporate world and being “brainwashed” by various forms of “propaganda”, with the message being that technology is the key to freeing our minds and bodies from all of that.

Yeah, there’s songs carry a message with them.

While watching them play, I wasn’t all that crazy for their actual music, and was more watching them for their performance, which is definitely an area they’ve perfected in their ten-year existence. However, after listening to their stuff a little more, like while trying to identify the songs they played this night, it has really grown on me.

It’s good rock music with a twist, and something well worth listening to. I’m still not all that crazy about Victors’ voice, which frankly, isn’t the best in the world. I wouldn’t call it bad though, either, which puts it in the spot of being one of the most unique voices I’ve ever heard, and he writes some fantastic lyrics that can be rather thought provoking.

I went from not being sure I’d even stay for their set, to watching it all, and now I’ve gone from not having a real interest in seeing them again, to liking them enough that if they ever get back to Dallas, I’ll most likely be there.

Yeah, they won me over is a fan.

Check out all of their records in ITUNES, and you can even get a free download of the “Ultrawired” record on their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

It was a fantastic night of music (with the exception of the first band), and I love shows like this where more independent and small time bands tour through, because I like getting a little taste of what else is out there, outside of the local North Texas music scene.

Monday, April 29th, 2013 – The Joy Formidable

Earlier this year the London based The Joy Formidable released their latest record, “Wolf’s Law”, and this night the band was making a stop at Trees in Dallas as part of their tour in support of the record.

I got there later, missing the only opening act, IO Echo, and at about 9:20 the venue appeared packed almost to capacity, with all the fans anxiously awaiting the bands arrival on stage.

A little over ten seemingly long minutes later and the lights went out as the fans cheered. The main mic stand, which was wrapped in lights and something that looked like tinsel, lit up, while a chilling wolf’s howl filled the venue. There was also a backdrop on the stage, which was a large white sheet, and hanging in front of it was a black silhouette of a wolf’s face, which lit up with LED lights that lined it.

Moments later Matthew Thomas made his way down the stairs from the greenroom, taking a seat behind his drum kit on stage left, which happened to be set up sideways. Rhydian Dafydd followed, picking up his bass when he made it on stage. However, it was Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan who received the most fanfare, as she took the stage flashing a delightful grin at the audience.

There was a little bit of feedback going on over the sample track that was their intro, before Matthew and Ritzy suddenly fired up “Cholla”, much to the fans excitement. Things suddenly fell silent closer towards the end when they took the pause in the song, and I’m fairly certain in those few seconds you could have heard a pin drop, as little noise was made from the crowd. They jumped back into it, though, and after finishing it up, Matthew wound them right into their next song, as he kept laying down some beats. While he was doing that, Ritzy mentioned how “lovely” everyone looked, and also said she was almost certain this was the first time they had ever done a headlining show in Dallas. With that, she and Rhydian began singing in to their mics, “Ohoo, Ohoo…”, again getting a burst of excitement from the fans, who quickly realized it was a song that is featured on their first two albums, “Austere”.

Both of those songs, especially back to back, got them off to an electric start and they were holding everyone’s attention with complete ease. Not only that, but there was also a very fun atmosphere to it, and their gleeful persona’s were rubbing off on the crowd, or at least me, putting me in a pretty happy state of mind.

Hearing the older stuff was great, but this tour was mainly about the music from “Wolf’s Law”, and after a brief break where Ritzy switched guitars (for the first of many times this night), they tackled another song from their latest record.

“THIS LADDER IS OURS!” Ritzy shouted rather defiantly, almost as if they were preparing to go to war and she was proclaiming it to a fictitious enemy. They then started the song of the same name, and that lead track from “Wolf’s Law” was a highlight of their set. The best part of the song though, was seeing them really rock out to it during the instrumental portions, especially Ritzy who just attacked her axe. “The Greatest Light is The Greatest Shade” was another older they song they broke out, and afterwards, while this Rock/Pop outfit regrouped, something interesting was played over the sound system. It was a reading of Henry Longfellow’s poem, “The Arrow and the Song”. “…And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend.” it finished as Rhydian and Matthew opened up “Little Blimp” with a thick rhythm based intro. That short song little track become the most intense of their set thus far, and was a powerhouse of a song, at least once it took off, and they weren’t ready to let that energy they built with that fade just yet.

They kept things rolling with an instrumental piece, which climaxed with some pulsating bass riffs, roaring guitar notes and powerful drumbeats, before suddenly subsiding. “Come on Dallas!” Ritzy cried during this moment of silence before they launched into “Cradle”. “I can’t say what he means when he says that, I’ll pretend, pretty pretend…” sang Ritzy near the start of this high-strung beast of a song. That one was sure to have everyone’s adrenaline flowing, and I don’t see how anyone who was in attendance couldn’t have been fully engaged by the band at this point.

“I think this is what you call a sweaty rock show.” Rhydian said as they took a break after that song. Ritzy then chimed in, asking everyone if they were having a “sweaty good time” with them so far, to which the fans cheered. Her focus then turned to the weather. “..Fuck me!” she exclaimed, “…I mean, this is April isn’t it, and it’s already this hot. How hot must it be in August?” She continued, “…Do you all just leave for the hills during August? But, where are the hills?”

As a native Texan, I didn’t think it was all that hot, especially not in the club. Then again, I wasn’t up on the stage going all out, and all three of them had worked up quite a sweat now. Maybe it was just the way the lights were hitting them, but it looked like because of all that Ritzys’ makeup had began to run just ever so slightly, which in turn seemed to give her more of a raw Rock ‘n’ Roll persona.

During all that banter, their stage hand moved a keyboard out on the stage, specifically in front of Rhydian, as they prepared to slow things down just ever so slightly.

It’s not accurate to call “Tendons” a slow song, but it has its moments, and is a rock song it was utterly mesmerizing. Near the end Rhydian put the keyboard to use, but only for a few seconds, before tearing back into his bass as the song returned to its rock glory. They really brought things down with their next song, which required Rhydian to play an acoustic guitar in lieu of his bass, while Matthew pretty much set the song out, watching his band mates from behind his kit. The song was “Silent Treatment”, and Ritzy really didn’t even play her guitar during it, and since her hands were free, she used them “talk with” in a way, making all sorts of motions with them while she softly crooned, “…I’ll take a quiet living, but I’m hotwired and quick feeling. So, I’ll take the silent treatment…” It was a gorgeous song and showed off a totally different side of the band, but they were in the homestretch now, and it was time to reinvigorate the crowd once again.

After his little break, Matthew got to put his skills back to work on “Maw Maw Song”, pushing his drumming into overdrive at times on the somewhat chilling number. The most amazing part of it was the instrumental break, where each of them cut loose, allowing the audience to see what phenomenal musicianship they have. Upon finishing it, Matthew patched them right into their next song with some steady beats on his floor tom. It was a heavy hitter from 2011’s “The Big Roar”, “I Don’t Want to See You Like This”, which worked everyone into a frenzy of excitement.

“You’ve got good lungs, Dallas.” Ritzy said, her British accent as thick as good be when she spoke, yet barely noticeable while singing. She was about to move them along to the next song, when she had a request from a fan. “You want me to sign your arm?” she said, sounding surprised. “Should I do it?” she asked everyone else, before deciding to. She bent down at the edge of the stage then leaned out a signed this persons arm, and when she returned to the mic said she didn’t know if she’d ever to that again, but that it was an experience. She chatted with everyone for a moment more, before saying the title of what would be the final song of their 61-minute long set, “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie”, which brought their set to an incredible close.

Very few people moved after the band left the stage, all awaiting the impending encore, even though it took them several minutes before they eventually returned.

Ritzy asked everyone if they wanted to hear a song or a joke, but quickly reneged on the offer, saying, “Let’s not go there.” Instead, they did two more tracks from “Wolf’s Law”, and beginning this 22-minute long encore was “Forest Serenade”. The song possesses a very upbeat quality to it, and is just another one of the band’s songs that is sure to put you in a more positive place than you were in before hearing it. Afterwards, Ritzy commented on what a “lovely venue” Trees was, again mentioning that this was their first ever headlining gig in Dallas and thanked everyone for coming out and being a part of it. “…So, Dallas, this is Wolf’s Law.” She said, as they started the album’s title track, which wound up being one of the most captivating songs of their performance. For awhile it was the softest song of their set, but it really roared to life, and could be described as beauty personified. No sooner had it ended and then they started the final song of their set, which was of course, “Whirring”. Like some of their songs before, it was the instrumental portion where they really shone, and at one point Rhydian and Ritzy stood back to back, before he playfully began pushing her over a bit. As they got closer to the end, she removed her guitar, then approached the fans , holding it out above them, allowing them to hit the strings, before eventually putting it back on as they brought the show to a spectacular finish.

Ritzy again removed her guitar, looking like she might slam it on the ground, but instead turned it parallel to the ground before dropping it, then waving by as she retreated to the greenroom. Rhydian followed suit, though he set his bass down, and after high-fiving several of the fans who were in front of the stage, Matthew, too, left.

 This was about as good as a show can get, and as great as the band was when I saw one of their free shows during SXSW the month prior, what they did at Trees this night was enough to leave your jaw on the floor.

They were going full throttle the entire night, coming out of the gate like that, and even on their slower stuff, they were still giving it their all. That resulted in their show being constantly enjoyable, and there certainly was never a dull moment.

The rapport they had with the crowd was excellent, and I think a large part of why their show was so successful, because the fans fed of the band and vice versa. If you weren’t there, you might not be able to understand it, because The Joy Formidable managed to create one of those rare moments that was complete unique to this show.

As amazing as their music is on the albums, it’s definitely the live show where The Joy Formidable excels, putting on nothing less than a stellar show. Rhydian’s a killer bass player, and while he has a little bit of the typical bass player persona of being all casual and nonchalant about it, he can (and does) throw down. Matthew’s a fantastic drummer, and I liked the fact that his kit was set up on the side of the stage, which made it a little easier to see him and take in his drumming. The you have Ritzy, who, when allowed to focus solely on her guitar playing, will be one of the best guitarists you ever seen, and she has a unique and heavenly voice to boot.

The only complaint I have about the show was the visuals that played on the backdrop behind them. It wasn’t always playing clips, and when it was just the wolf’s head silhouette flashing various colors, it was very cool. That part should stay, but other times, when there was stuff being broadcasted on the screen… Well, I was none too crazy for it.

Sure, some of the stuff can fit with the songs, and for a song or two it was the music videos of the song playing. Was it cool? Some may say so. I however zoned it all out in the first place.

I personally find stuff like that to be a distraction, and prefer to see a band doing what they do best, especially when you have a band like The Joy Formidable.

Their show is in their passion they exude. Their show is in the sheer joy they so obviously derive from performing their music in front of people. Their show is in watching them dominant the instruments they’ve dedicated so much time to perfecting. Their show is not in videos playing behind them.

Now, that was nowhere near enough to make this a bad show, nor even put a blemish on it, I’m just voicing my opinion.

And for the record, all those traits I mentioned that they have are something about 98% of bands could greatly benefit from adopting and trying to emulate.

The band is continuing their tour in support of “Wolf’s Law”, and for a schedule of all their tour dates, go HERE. If you have the opportunity to see one of those upcoming shows (especially if it’s a headlining one) take, because it’ll will be a show you’ll remember for years to come. Also, be sure to pick up their records in ITUNES.

Sunday, March 24th, 2013 – Adrenaline Mob

I seldom see the larger national touring bands that come through Trees, and honestly, I didn’t have much interest in the one that was playing this night, but the lineup of local talent was superb.

There were four opening acts on this bill, which meant the show was getting started early, and shortly after 7:15, Thrown took the stage.

I had seen the band before a few years back (2010, or maybe even 2009), and recently they seemed to have fallen off the map, making me think they had disbanded. That’s not the case, though. Rather, they had been regrouping, and tonight was their first back.

They had some new material under their belt, but this 28 minute long set consisted mainly of stuff from their debut record, “The Beautiful End”, like the lead track which was also the show opener, “Bleed Like Me”. It was a supercharged rock tune, and while Trees was pretty vacant at this point, the people who were there were gathered around the stage, obviously being drawn in by it. They followed it with another track from their old record, “Nothing Left”, which was another heavier rock number. “The One” came next, which was heavy on the rhythm, with bassist, TreVice Layne, and drummer, Brent Matthews, dominating the song, but also featured a blistering guitar solo from Brad McFarland, which helped balance out the song. The highlight of their set (at least in my opinion) was “Ignorance”, whose lyrics are even better than most of their other stuff. “…My eyes grow tired of seeing all the shadows that you cast…” shouted singer, Greg Vinson, on the chorus, his voice perfectly fitting the style of rock they play, and could easily compete with the best of them. They cranked out another song, and as their set neared the end, they pulled out their newest songs that they have released for their fans to listen to. One of those was “Back to Stay”, which shows they’ve kept with what works best for them, sounding similar to their other songs, but there’s a little bit of growth also noticeable in it. Their final was “Drunk On Hate”, which is arguable the most powerful out of those new ones, and brought things to a strong finish for them.

I really don’t remember much about them from the first time I saw them, other than really enjoying their music and their live show. The music was still great this night, even better than what I recalled, but the live show… Well, they did what they good, and it wasn’t really their fault. There was a full backline this night, and out of all the bands, Thrown had the least bit of room on stage, and Greg, Brad and TreVice were pretty limited on where they could move, and basically had to stay in the same place for their entire set.

You could tell they were wanting to do more in terms of their performance, too, but just couldn’t.

That aside, it was a really good show, and I’m glad to see that the band is back in action. They had a lot of promise when I first saw them and they still do, so if you have a chance, go see them live. Also, you can buy their first album in ITUNES.

The second act of the night was Awake In Theory, who hails from all over the D/FW metroplex, and honestly, I was surprised they were going on now, because I thought they deserved the third slot. Oh well, they’ll get there in due time.

The band through me for a loop by beginning with a song that is atypical when compared to the other shows of theirs I’ve seen, “Playing the Villain”. It worked better than I thought it would, throwing everyone right into their barrage of Alt/Rock sounds, and for a show like this, you do need to get people’s attention right off the bat. As it ended, guitarists, Brad McCain and Terry Kimmel, drummer, Raymond Chambers, and bassist, Adam Garcia , fired up their next song, while Eric Hawkens offered an explanation of sorts about it. “This song is for anyone who had to do what I had to do this past year, and that’s taking someone you love to rehab.” Said the bands frontman (or at least something along those lines), as they got underway with “Let Go”. It was with that song that deals with some of the hardships of life where their show really came to life. As with all the opening acts, they suffered from some cramped conditions on stage, but they utilized what little space they had, with Eric stepping back when he wasn’t singing, allowing the instrumentalists to get to the front of the stage and entertain the onlookers. After finishing it, Eric mentioned that this was their first time playing the Trees. “…But we’d play here every single night if it meant we could play in front of all of you…” he added, before stating the title of their next track, “Innocence for the Innocent”, a song where Raymond gets to really show off some of his drumming skills. Before their next song, Eric informed the crowd it was one they don’t play too often, which had me curious as to what it was. He couldn’t keep a straight face for long, though, soon admitting, “I’m just kidding, we play it all the time.” Terry then opened up “Barely Breathing” with some haunting and stellar guitar notes. This is the song they’ve opened with the two previous times I’ve seen them, and it’s still my favorite of the bands, plus I just love the line, “…I’m barely breathing, but I’m still healing from this war…”. Their next song was dedicated to everyone who serves in the military, and Eric asked everyone if they see a member of the service to go up and tell them how much they’re appreciated. That led them to “Hero You Hate”, and upon finishing it they had one last song in their 28-minute long set. It was their single, which they recently laid down in a studio, becoming the first song they’ve recorded together, and it’s called “Daddy’s Little Girl”.

It was an incredible show they put on this night, and while they’ve been very solid before, you could tell they stepped up their game for this show. They were wanting to make an impression, and they most certainly did.

They’re a badass rock band who puts on a strong performance, and if you haven’t heard of them already, take a few moments to get acquainted with them.

They have a few shows on the books, beginning with April 27th at ARNETIC in Fort Worth. You can catch them at Six Flags in Arlington on May 4th, and they’ll be in Dallas on May 10th at Wit’s End. They also have another gig at Tree’s scheduled for June 15th.

After their set, I wondered out onto the patio, running into Marc, who plays in the band, The Circle, whom I talked with for a little while.

By the time I went back in, the instrumental trio known as Son of Swan was into the last half of their set.

I’ve only seen the group once before, and even though I only caught a little of their set this night, they managed to blow my mind even more.

Band founder and guitarist, Neil Swanson, is a virtuoso on the guitar and plays it with sheer ease. I’m not even a fan of instrumental music in the least, but music this spectacular doesn’t need lyrics to entertain. And along with the out of this world skills that he, bassist, Steve Wilson, and drummer, Billy Walker, posses, they also can put on an exciting live performance.

I never thought I’d even remotely enjoy, let alone love an instrumental band, yet those are my feeling for Son of Swan.

This show also served as their CD release gig for their debut album, which you can purchase at any live show. That said, they have a few coming up, including April 26th at The Curtain Club in Dallas and May 24th at The Rail Club in Fort Worth.

Serving as the main support band for Adrenaline Mob (not only at this show, but pretty much every single date of this leg of the tour) was San Antonio’s own, Nothing More, and out of all the bands on this bill, I was most excited about seeing them.

When the curtain opened on them, it looked like it was going to be interesting given the bands setup, specifically singer Jonny Hawkins’ drum set, which took up a lot of the space at the front of the stage. They didn’t act like it was much of a hindrance, though, as Jonny  ripped into it, while primary drummer, Paul O’Brien, was seemingly inches behind him, also delivering some hefty beats, which led into “Gone”. That song is always a great one to get started with, but they seemed to be putting more effort into it than usual (which I didn’t think was even possible). Perhaps it was because after being on the road for a while, they were glad to be back in their home state, where every show they did was essentially a hometown show. After all, they’ve been cutting their teeth in the clubs in this area for the better part of a decade, and had several fans singing right along with every word, which I’m sure just added full to the fire. They finished that tune much like it began, with some more epic, aggressive drumming, until Mark Vollelunga suddenly took the spotlight with his roaring guitar riffs of the brief instrumental number, “Under The Eyes of Selene”. Unfortunately, he was stuck on far stage right, out of the way from where I stood and it wasn’t easy to see him, but that was one point of their set where I made sure to give him my full attention. It quickly gave way to the song it’s a prelude to, “Sixty Second Affair”, and while it is the oldest song they currently do (it’s from their ’05 album “Save You/Save Me”), it’s also one of the most forceful of their set. “…Through all the tears, these wasted years, my phoenix fears in you rise again…” Jonny sang, spacing the words just far enough apart to add a real gravity to them. It, too, ended with some duel drumming, and after announcing to everyone who they were, they pulled out one of their new songs, which surprisingly enough was the only new one of their set. I believe the song is called “Friendly Fire”, and you know you’ve seen a band a lot when you can sing (mostly) along to a song solely from hearing it at their past shows. The audience seemed really into this one, and how could you not feel the adrenaline rush while Jonny shouted/sang the chorus, “I’ll keep breaking, breaking, breaking your pride… Until you realize you are no J-J-J-Jesus Christ…” (Note: Those lyrics could be wrong, but that is what I hear at least.) Thus far it had been a very abbreviated NoMO set, but there were two things that I knew would be staples, one which would come later, and the other was their little bass trick. After walking into Tree’s this night, I saw and talked with Mark for a bit, who casually said, “Oh, we worked up a new bass line.” “Cool.” I thought, thinking it would be pretty much the same old thing… It wasn’t. The rod that holds the bass was placed in the wrought iron case that surrounds Jonnys’ drums, Daniel Oliver put his bass in the holster and, with the bass facing the crowd, proceed to play some notes while standing beside it. It was cool, and while Dan was doing that, Jonny was manning the pedal board for the bass, adding some effects to it, while Paul kept some beats going throughout it. It started getting good when Mark stood on stage left of the bass, also plucking at some strings, but that was all still similar to what is done at every Nothing More show. As much of a spectacle as it is, I still was under the assumption I knew where it was going. A few minutes into it and they suddenly both jumped back, as Dan swung the rod holding the bass, sending it spinning around, before stopping with the bass now straight up in the air, but upside down. Jonny then joined them, standing on his bass drum, while Dan stood on a, I’ll call it a small step ladder to reach the bass, and while Mark and Dan held down the stings, Jonny played the bass by using some drumsticks. I should also note they kept the notes from it in perfect synch with the beats Paul was churning out at times, before spinning the bass in a complete 360 a few times, then finishing the piece. Not only was it the highlight of their set, but it was the highlight of the entire night. I also loved it because I had gotten used to the old piece they did, and while it still dazzled me, it felt fantastic getting to watch it through brand new eyes for the first time in a VERY long time. (Note: Check out that action for yourself in THIS video.) By the time they finished that, they were down to their last song, which was the fan favorite, “Salem”. They weren’t done blowing the crowds minds just yet, and near the end both Dan and Mark grabbed some toms, moving towards center stage, while Jonny spun around, playing those two drums as well as his kit. It was a little different from what they usually do, simply because they didn’t have room on stage to go all out, but it still awed. And is the song wound down, they even got the audience to shout the chorus, “Burn the witch!”, back at them repeatedly, concluding their 26-minute long set.

Being completely objective, Nothing More was hands down the best band on the bill. Every band this night had different degrees of passion, but with Mark, Jonny, Dan and Paul, their passion bleeds through every single second of their time on stage, putting it on display for all to see, which makes it very easy to see that this is what they love doing. Hell, it’s obvious it’s what they were born to do.

To me, that’s what always makes them so enjoyable, and I didn’t see any of the other acts leave it all on the stage like they did.

You can find their records in ITUNES, and they also have a few shows coming up, starting with April 24th at the Lizard Lounge in Wichita, Kansas. The 26th they’ll be at Click’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the following night you can see them at Rock ‘n’ Blues in Covington, Louisiana. Oh, and be back at Trees on June 21st. Why? Because that’s the day they’ll be doing a Dallas CD release show for their new album.

You usually don’t think of an opening act topping the headliner, especially when the headlining band is comprised of veteran musicians, all of whom have been playing for at least two decades if not longer, but Nothing More did in my opinion, and I doubted that they could be topped.

Now it was time for Adrenaline Mob, who is of course a super group featuring Mike Portnoy, Russell Allen, Mike Orlando, and John Moyer. They had definitely brought the people out this Sunday night, and it was next to impossible to even move around in front of the stage.

Perhaps I’m being a little too finicky, but I felt too much time passed before the band finally took the stage, at which point what excitement I was feeling had turned into just wanting them to hurry up and just get it over with.

Let me explain. A stagehand issued a reminder that video recording was not allowed during the show. That was said after the sound check was pretty much complete, which I took as meaning the band was going to start in mere minutes. Instead, no less than fifteen minutes passed, and then the bands intro song started. It wasn’t just one song, though, and part of another followed it, before suddenly stopping as the curtain opened and the band members descended the stairs from the green room.

I was probably the only person there who felt this way, but at this point I was fed up with waiting and felt like they had stretched things out too long. I realize it might not have even been the bands felt, but regardless, that process should have been sped up a bit.

They played practically everything from their 2012 debut album, “Omerta”, kicking off their 70+-minute long set with “Psychosane”. It was great song and a good opener, and upon finishing it, Mike P. hopped up from his stool, standing on his massive drum kit and surveying the crowd. It was a cool moment to say the least. The fans were pulled further in with “Feelin’ Me”, where Mike O. and John raced around the stage, and while performing his guitar solo, Mike held it so the fans could see as his fingers danced up and down the fret board. “Down to the Floor” was my personal favorite song of theirs, but by the time it was over, I was starting to feel like it was the same old song and dance. The songs were sounding fairly similar to me, and they all had crazy guitar solos in them. I thought maybe they were free styling the live versions of the songs at first, which would have been fine, but after listening to their recorded music, I learned the songs are like that, which gives the impression that the solos are there for the purpose of being flashy and showing off. This was also the third song that after finishing, Mike P. again jumped atop his drum kit. I’ve never seen any drummer to that, and it really was cool the first time, but to repeatedly do it, especially so close together, it makes it lose appeal, and rather quickly at that. They did a couple more original songs, which were “Angel Sky” and “Indifferent”, and after the latter Russell turned things over to Mike Portnoy, who talked with the fans for a few minutes. One thing he did was call attention to his drum tech, who slowly stood up from behind the drum riser. “…Did anybody see my first ever show in Dallas twenty years ago?” he asked, informing everyone that this guy set up his kit then, and has stuck with him for all these years. It turned out it was the tech’s birthday, and at the request of Mike everyone sang happy birthday to him. Soon after, Mike got to talking about their newest EP, “Coverta”, saying that each night they had been playing different covers from it, and also mentioned that Tree’s was the first ever venue to get the Adrenaline Mob “hat trick”, or in other words is the only venue in a city to host them three times. When they got back to the music, Mike O. started them in on a very Metal rendition of the Heart classic, “Barracuda”. It was a good cover, but I felt they more just put their own spin on it, rather than taking it and making it completely their own. That was the only cover they did at this point, returning to their original stuff with “Believe Me” and the fast paced “Hit the Wall”. Once they finished it, some acoustic guitars were brought out for Russell and Mike, while John and Mike P. left their posts, retreating up the stairs. Before their next song, Russell told a detailed story about his son, and how one day he and his wife realized something seemed off about him, and after taking him to the doctor found out he had autism. That’s what their next song was about, and he said he wanted to write a song that was meaningful and dealt with something real, which was when “All On the Line” was born. It was a very moving song, and the acoustic beginning made sure the words carried the weight they deserved. That’s not to say it was lessened when Mike P. and John rejoined them, though, turning it into a full-blown rock song. After ditching the acoustic guitars, they got back to the specialty, loud Metal, by cranking out “Come Undone”, while the lead track from “Omerta”, “Undaunted”, ended the main set.

By this point, they had played about thirty minutes longer than I would have liked, and I had pretty much checked out at this point, but of course, an encore was coming…

Mike Orlando walked back out on stage first, but no one else followed. The stage belonged to him for a minute or two as he shredded on his axe, doing a guitar solo that everybody ate up. Soon, his band mates joined him on stage, for an encore that was all covers. Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song” was first up, which was were Russell showed his vocal chords do have some range to them, singing in more of a soulful/bluesy voice, rather than the one tone yell he had used for the majority of their other songs. They had a special guest join them on their next song, and John left the stage, turning the bass duty over to Rex Brown, best known from being with Pantera. He helped them tear it up on Van Halen’s “Romeo Delight” and he’s got some serious chops, slapping the bass and rocking out the riffs with ease. John came back out on stage when it was finished, and after they all thanked Rex for helping them out, they closed their show with the song that I believe was the first one they ever covered as a band, “The Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath, which, given the band’s name, is an appropriate track for them to cover.

That was that, and I was glad it was finally over.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, I felt like a vast majority of their material (covers included) sounded pretty much the same. As seen on that cover song, Russell is capable of an extraordinary range, but they never really explored that, and instead he maintained pretty much the same deep tone on every single song, to the point it got rather monotonous. I also felt that both Mike’s were a little too flashy. There’s beauty in subtlety, and while Mr. Portnoy did get a little better about not always standing on his kit at the end of each song, he still did it too close together at times. Make people wait for it, instead of having fans (or at least me) thinking, “Oh, cool, he’s doing that again.”

Then you have Mr. Orlando, who did a guitar solo during every single song (covers included), and it didn’t sound like they were thrown in there, but rather that the entire song was built around the solos. Again, there’s beauty in subtlety, and if you do a solo of any type (bass, drums, guitar, etc.) during every single song, it quickly becomes overkill. Besides, personally, some of my favorite guitarists are the one who strum with precision and ease, only cutting loose and shredding periodically, instead of going all-out all the time.

I want to point out I’m not at all questioning their musicianship. I know many drummers who cite Mike Portnoy as one of their biggest influences, and after seeing him live, I can see why. About the same can be said about Mike Orlando, and despite what my thoughts were, there’s no way you cannot think he is one of the best guitarists of this era.

And even though my statements speak to the contrary and are my personal thoughts, being totally objective, I have to say they succeed at putting on an entertaining show.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering why I’ve neglected John Moyer, it’s because out of the whole bunch I thought he was the most well rounded. His talent was impressive, but never over the top, and he just had a good aura about him.

The band’s current tour may be over, but I believe they will be tackling the West Coast in the near future (keep an eye on their TOUR DATES page), and to purchase their music, head over to ITUNES.

Well, the local openers were by far the best in my opinion, and as much as I hated paying $20 to get into a show, Nothing More, Son of Swan, Awake in Theory and Thrown made it more than worth it.

Friday, January 4th, 2013 – Meridian

After nearly two weeks since the last concert I saw, I was itching to go somewhere to hear some live music, and this night, Trees was the only place to be.

Though it had been out for a couple of months, Meridian was finally getting around to doing an official CD release show (there’s a long story behind that), and they were headlining this night of all local rock to celebrate the release of their debut record.

Oddly enough, this was a three band bill, but while this night was lacking in numerous acts, there was an overabundance of rock, and The Circle was first to deliver it.

They got right down to business, and opened with a pretty heavy number where frontman, Don Mills, did a fair bit of screaming while he sang. It was a beast of a song, and a solid opener, though the most impressive thing so early on was how tight they appeared to be. I had seen them once before, shortly after Don had joined the band when they played a show for RYA Entertainment (co-founded by WhiskeyBoy Radio and myself). It was a good show then, but you could tell were still finding their groove. Well, it was noticeable right of the bat this night that they have since found it, and have become quite the cohesive unit. After that song, Don made a little speech about the local music community, thanking everyone for coming out to support all the bands this night and that it wouldn’t be possible without them. Afterwards, they started another pretty intense song, “Beggars Can’t be Choosers”. Afterwards, Don had a question for the audience. “…Who was the last band played on the [radio station] The Eagle in twenty-twelve?!” They had some devoted fans out this night, who yelled in response, “The Circle!” “That’s right. And only one band gets to say that.” He added, as his band mates started into their next tune, which I think they said was a fairly new one. As they finished up what was a slightly slower song for them, they wound it into another rocker, “My Trip to the Desert Sucked”. Upon finishing it, Don referred to this as “church”, which effectively made the crowd their congregation, all of whom seemed anxious as to what would continue their “sermon”. Next up they did one which I believe Don later added they had not played since their show at the House of Blues, all the way back in June. “How many of you were there?” he roared, and was answered with some applause. Drummer, Marc Berry, led them into their next song, “I Am”, which quickly exploded Craig Nelson and Alan Sauls, the lead guitarist and rhythm guitarist, respectively, and bassist, Kenneth Henrichs, tore into it. After another song, which, if memory serves me correctly, was another one they hadn’t played live in awhile and had dusted off for this show, they started to wrap up their set with “Somewhere”. The song has some sweet guitar licks from Craig, and towards the end of the song he indulged everyone with a stellar solo, where he really shredded on his guitar. During the brief silence that followed after that song, one fan made a request, shouting out, “Sleep On It!” It’s the bands newest single, and so far the only one they’ve released featuring Don at the helm. It’s also arguable the best song in their arsenal, and like any professional, national level touring band, they had saved the best for last. It’s hands down an incredible song, and while it was acted as a nice conclusion to their set, it also left you wishing they could have done more than just a 36-minute long set.

You could tell the band has done a lot of growing during the last six months, which can no doubt be attributed to a great deal of practice at rehearsals, and subsequently honed their live performance with their consistent schedule of shows.

They were a fine tuned machine, and every bit as good as the two acts that would go on after them. In some aspects, even a little better, and because of that The Circle should be a band you familiarize yourself with, and do it pronto.

They have some songs you can download from their REVERBNATION PAGE, all of which are live cuts, and most of them feature Don as the singer. Then you have the single, “Sleep On It”, which you can purchase in iTunes. Now once you do that, you’ll probably be wanting to see a show, and they do have a big one coming up in February. On the 2nd they’ll be at the Curtain Club in Dallas, as one of the acts opening the reunion show for the band Advent. That’s going to be an impressive night of music so, don’t miss it.

After them was the only out of town band, and that was Austin’s own, Dawn Over Zero.

It’s well documented on here how much I love that band, though it had been about ten months since the last time I had seen them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to hear what they had in store this night.

Their 39-minute long set began with the lead track from their “Unity & Division” album, “Caricatures”. It’s one of the most fiery tracks from the record, and was a good choice as an opener, as it immersed everyone into the straight up rock sounds their ears would be enjoying. Bassist, Jonathan Boyce, quickly gave a shout out to The Circle for opening, and before he could completely finish, singer and rhythm guitarist, Mike Mears, and lead guitarist, Steven Abbenante, fired up “Catapult”. I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that tune was absent the last time I saw them, but either way, it was good to hear it again, as it is one of their catchiest. Steven didn’t even take a break, switching the final note of that song into the first one of their next one, a classic from their self-titled EP, “Take You Under”. Nothing against their new stuff, because I do love it, but there’s something about those older ones that are downright amazing. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that I like the chorus, “Well you take another trip, crossing the lines and now it’s time to stray from all the steps that may take you under…”. Of course the bulk of their set did come from their new album, though, and they pushed on with “Kidney Stone”, which is much more enjoyable than the name might suggest. They did pause occasionally between some of the remaining songs, but only long enough to thank Trees for hosting the show, the people for coming out, or the other bands on the bill. And it was after that, that they began a favorite of mine, “Short On a Dime”, followed by one of their best songs. “This sounds like a workout video, doesn’t it?” Mike asked, doing something that resembled a jumping jack and looked like it belonged in a jazzercise video, all while Steven played his part of “Give and Take”. Those chords alone sound incredible, and the fact that he cranked it out for a few seconds before his band mates joined in only enhanced the tune. The show then took a turn and got a little humorous, as Mike stated that the day before he had been threatened on Facebook. Saying he had been told that if they didn’t do this song, than their trailer would be vandalized. It probably wasn’t a credible threat, since it came from a member of the previous band, but he joked that he didn’t want to take any chances. The song that had been requested was a cover of a Johnny Hates Jazz tune that can be found on their record, and that song is “Shattered Dreams”. Mike sang the first verse (or maybe a little more) almost a cappella, with only Steven adding some very soft guitar notes over his voice. It was a stellar extra touch, but soon, fill-in drummer , Kevin Abbenante, (their master drummer, Mack Linan, was ill with the flu) busted into it, and really got the song underway. “How much time to we have left?” Mike asked the sound guy when they finished. Ten minutes was the answer, giving them enough time for two more, one of which is my favorite DOZ song and one I had not heard in an incredible long time. With all their new(er) material, “The Confidence” has become a deeper cut, and one that, at least based on the last few times I’ve seen them, has been seldom heard. In fact, I was afraid it may have been cut from the live show all together, so I was ecstatic when they started it. And for the record, it sounded even better than I remembered. Only one song remained at this point, and I assumed it came down to one of their two lead singles. “…This is the single from our first record.” Announced Mike, as they oddly (though thankfully) decided to end with the epic, “Circulation”.

This was as solid a set as any band could hope to do, and while I was surprised that “Carry Me Home” (their most recent single) was missing from the setlist, I’m okay with that, because I enjoy everything they did do so much more. Plus, it was just an amazing selection of songs.

I’ve seen more than a few DOZ shows, and this was the best in my opinion. It exemplified what the band is all about, and that is a high-energy live show (with tons of racing and jumping around the stage) that engages the listener, regardless of if they’re already a fan or are having their first ever Dawn Over Zero experience.

They’re a great band, and one to check out. One way to do that is of course by purchasing their music in ITUNES, and you can also find a couple of free downloads on their REVERBNATION PAGE. You can also go out to a live show, and while they don’t have any scheduled at this moment, keep a check on their Facebook or Reverbnation pages.

It was a little after eleven o’clock at this point, and approaching time for Meridian to take the stage.

They originally had a CD release show booked here in late October, but due to Trees being double booked, their show got cut. And while they had not done an official CD release show any time since, their EP had been available at both shows and online. In some ways, maybe that did diminish the excitement level that usually surrounds CD release shows, but still, this was a CD release show, and those are always ones for the books.

They ripped right into it, opening with “Re-digress”. I’m still not used to the new version of it, and couple that with the fact that I hadn’t seen the band in months either, and I didn’t even remember what song it was at first. I only recognized it when frontman, Tim Ziegler, sang the final line, “…Fuck all your politics. Fuck all your stupid tricks. Fuck all the things you say, words only get in the way.” Killer opener, and while I do still miss the original version of the song (which used those last few lines as the chorus), this new incarnation is more polished and has some sweet notes courtesy of guitarists, Mark Sims and Shannon Nedved. Following it up was their first song of the night from the EP, and that was “All Hands”. It was the best I’ve heard the song sound, and somehow it was also the first time I really took notice of the chorus, “I heard you call for me, but I could not be there, and you are wanting something that I forgot so long ago. And I have found the next best silhouette to take the place of you…”, which Tim crooned quite well, considering he was ill with the flu. Chris Gentry stepped up as the song concluded, and kept riffing on his bass, doing a brief solo which segued it into their next song, which was a newer one. Upon finishing it, they took a break, during which Tim mentioned his sickness and pulled out a bottle Singers Saving Grace throat spray. “…Let’s see if this works…” he said, testing it out, and also making a few wisecracks about it. They got back to it with their most aggressive song, “Nights Like This”. I’m not sure if the throat spray helped Tim or not, but it couldn’t have hurt either, because he sounded basically as good on it now as he has every other time I’ve heard them play it. A couple more tunes followed, the latter of which was an incredible sounding new one, while preceding it was what strikes me as being a fan favorite, and the chorus goes something like, “…This is war. The city is going to burn tonight…” Before moving on, Tim took a moment to plug their album. “…Let me tell you something about it. It cost eight thousand dollars to make. So go buy a copy. I think they’re only, like, five bucks… So at the very least you’ll have a cool coaster…” I already had plans to buy the CD, but hearing that only reinforced why I needed to. After he finished his speech, the sample track began for their next song, “The fire starts and ends.” It repeated a few times, with Tim adding, “With you.” to it to officially begin “Starts & Ends”. I said once before that was unsure about their tweaked version of this one, since the lyrics were what really drew it to me. But after hearing the recording of the new incarnation, I can say I still love it just as much as the old one… Maybe even more so. His voice may not have been one hundred percent, and while Tim has always been capable of a goofball personality on stage, he really seemed to let it shine through now, almost to compensate for the other areas. For example, during that song, he began thrusting his hips and humping the air. It was a nice dose of comic relief so to speak, and it only got better with their next song. “Lazy Eye” is another newer addition to the live set, and is not only a remarkable song, but was also the best one of their set this night. It just sounded better than anything else during their set, and while belting out the lyrics, Tim made his way around the stage, first to stage left to hump Mark, then over Shannon, where he proceeded to grind against his band mate. It was wrong, but oh so funny. “We have a couple songs left…” Tim stated, leading them into their “slow” tune, “Train”, which is also rather beautiful. That then took them to the final song of their 41-minute long set, as Mark began the song, before drummer, Joe Maurer, busted them into “Hey Lover”.

Considering Tim’s illness with the flu, it was a good show. Though I’d be remiss if I said it was flawless. There were just a few times I heard his voice crack, or you could tell he wanted to step it up on a part, but just couldn’t take it to where he wanted to. I can’t really fault the guy, though, because how many singers would still perform if their instrument was compromised like that? I doubt many would.

In every other aspect, though, it was pretty solid.

You can find the bands EP on iTunes, and by all means, go buy it. You’ll be glad you did. They also have at least one show coming up, and it will take place on February 9th at Tomcats West in Fort Worth.

The only bad thing about this show was the lack of people. It was an amazing lineup, but there were maybe fifty or so people there throughout the entire night. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but pathetic is the best word I can think of to describe the turnout, and it should have been much better than this. Oh, well. It’s too late to do anything now, and at least those who did show up where true, diehard fans of the bands.

The Circle

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Dawn Over Zero

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Meridian

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Friday, November 30th, 2012 – Drowning Pool: Version 4.0

It’s always risky when a band, especially a well established band, welcomes a new member into the fold, particularly a new singer.

Not to say the other members in any band aren’t integral parts of it, but a singer has the ability to completely change a bands sound. Because of that, I’m usually a little worried when any band changes vocalists, because there’s always that chance that it could turn me (and other fans) off of the music.

It’s something the Dallas Metal band Drowning Pool knows all too well, though, having been through a couple vocalists since the death of the bands original singer, Dave Williams. They recently found the latest addition to Drowning Pool, after former singer, Ryan McCombs, left the band late last year.

This night marked their first hometown show with Jasen Moreno in the lineup. As usual, they were performing at Trees, and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this would probably be one of the biggest hometown shows the band had done.

Several acts were opening, including one I didn’t even know was on the bill. I’m not sure who they were, though they were not from Texas, and I’m relieved I only saw the last minute of their set.

They were very Metal, which is a good fit for this bill, but with the excess screaming that I heard, they were too Metal for my taste.

The Fort Worth based, No Scope was on after them.

I had seen them a little over a year ago, when they also opened for Drowning Pool, and didn’t much care for them then.

That held true this second go around, mainly because I just don’t dig their singer’s voice. It’s more of a borderline scream (again, that’s just not what I’m into), but even when he does sing, he doesn’t have a very strong voice.

On the other hand, they do put on a good live show, and it was better than what I remembered it being. And whereas the last time I couldn’t wait for them to get off stage, I did at least find some enjoyment in the performance this night. It probably didn’t hurt that they didn’t even get a 30-minute set, though.

They have a few records that you can purchase in iTunes, and for more information on the band, check out their FACEBOOK PAGE.

There was one local act after them, and it was Serosia.

I had missed their CD release show a couple months ago, so I was pretty excited to finally get another chance to see them.

As the curtain opened on them, guitarist, Derek Troxell, was hitting the back of the guitar’s neck, creating a killer sound. Soon, drummer, Anthony D’Agata, ripped into their first song with some hefty beats, while Joseph Kuban proceeding to attack his bass and Derek started thrashing about. The song was one from their new “Variables” EP, “Friendly Fire”. It was an explosive way to start the show, and they didn’t let up, following it very closely with “Criminal”. “I am concealed…” sang/shouted singer, Lucas D’Agata, upon starting the song. They did another tune after it, and afterwards Lucas announced they were now going to play some stuff from their new EP. “…We recorded it up in New Jersey with some guy named Cristian Machado…” he said, adding, “If any of you know that guy. Oh yeah, he’s in Ill Nino.” That got a roar from the mass of people, most of whom seemed more excited about seeing Ill Nino then Drowning Pool this night. “This song’s called The Architect.” Lucas finished. It’s one of the bands slower songs, in the sense that he sings on the entire song, but he brought out his signature brutal scream for parts of their next song, “Sway”. Sadly, they only got a 24-minute long set, and at this point, they just had one more to go. “I feel a war… A war’s going to start tonight.” Lucas said to the crowd, who seemed unsure of what he was talking about. The Serosia fans knew, though, and it was the song I had been most looking forward to hearing from them. “I feel a war, fast approaching like a storm…” he sang, while his band mates tore into “Superposition”. Lucas tired to get some audience participation towards the end, asking everyone to join him and shout, “I FEEL A WAR!”, though not enough people did to really make it audible. After a few times of that he resumed command and finished out the song by flailing around while producing some violent screams.

Honestly, even though I’ve only seen Serosia a few times, I’ve seen much better shows from them than this one was. Lucas’s voice was off. It was worst on the first song, and while it did improve steadily throughout, it never hit its full potential. But what they were lacking in sound was more than made up for by their performance.

Very few bands in the Dallas are (or probably the world for that matter) bring it like Serosia does, where everything is left on the stage. And even them on a bad night is about then ten times better than what most bands could ever hope to do. Really. It’s the raw energy and passion they all put into it, and more often than not, it’s hard to figure out who to watch, because they are all very intense performers.

They have a show coming up on December 31st, if anyone wants to ring in the new year with them. It will be at the Boiler Room in Dallas. And to listen to/purchase their music, go to either ITUNES or their REVERBNATION STORE. A few of their records are on iTunes (including their newest one), but the latter has their earlier stuff.

So, I mentioned everyone was pretty pumped for Ill Nino, and I overheard countless conversations by people talking about they couldn’t wait for them to take the stage.

I wasn’t one of those people, though. I knew the band was pretty hardcore Metal, and while I may like Serosia and Drowning Pool, what I listened to of Ill Nino seemed to push my tolerance for the genre. But I was just going to have to suffer through it.

Now not being a fan, I obviously don’t know the band’s music, but I think I may have pieced part of the show together. And if correct, they opened their 45-minute set with “If You Still Hate Me”. I hated the screaming Cristian Machado did on this and every other song, and the music was much heavier than I care for, but even with all that, I found something odd happening. I was enjoying it. All that aside, they were excellent performers and just that one aspect was more than enough to keep my eyes glued to the stage. They continued with “This is War”, and upon finishing it, Cristian thanked everyone for coming out. “…We’re just a little Latino Metal band from New Jersey…” he said, seeming to sincerely mean that, though I think that bands history and achievements speaks to the contrary. They did a couple more songs which I didn’t know, and before starting the second of those two, Cristian got a Texas flag from somewhere and draped it over his back, proclaiming how glad they were to be back in Texas. It was also that song that had an acoustic guitar part, and a roadie of the bands brought what appeared to be a mic stand out on stage, though it had a acoustic guitar secured to the top of it, which one of their guitarists proceeded to play for a few lines. I can honestly say I had never seen anything like that before, and it was pretty cool. They got back to some really heavy material with their next tune, which I think was “I Am Loco”, and was my favorite of theirs. “Does anyone here have our new record, Epidemia?” Cristian asked before they started the next song. Some people seemed to, though it was awfully silent. “…This one’s called The Depression”, he said, starting the lead track from their most current record. One of the most interesting things about Ill Nino to me was the fact that they used two drummers. The mere idea of that seemed like overkill to me, but then I heard it. Oddly enough, both full drum kits meshed well, and I believe it was the secondary drummer, Daniel Couto, who even delivered some of the beats by slapping the cymbals and drums with his hands. Anyway, at this point in the show, drummer, Dave Chavarri, tore off on a short solo. It was just the right length, long enough it showed off the skills he posses, but short enough it never got boring, and shortly after finishing it, they fired up their next one, which might have been “How Can I Live”. “Alibi of Tyrants” followed it, which sounded like one of the heaviest, most aggressive things they had done thus far, and then came yet another song from 2001’s “Revolution Revolución”, “What Comes Around”. That album seemed to be the main focus of the night, and before doing one of the earlier songs from it, Cristian asked if it’d be okay if they took everyone back to 2001. “…Eleven years later and you are all still coming out to shows and singing along to these songs…” he said, sounding humbled by the peoples dedication. It’s also worth noting a later conversation he had with the audience, saying back in his day people “had the balls” to go into a record store and walk out with an album, not pirate the music, which is so easy these days. He went on to encourage everyone to keep buying music, one way or another, to keep them and other bands, like Deftones, alive. There time was almost up after that one, having just enough time for one more, and I think it was “Liar” that concluded their set.

I said I thought I’d have to “suffer through” their set, but that was proved very wrong.

There’s no doubt about it, Ill Nino is a beast live, and their performance was impeccable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like nor can I appreciate their style of music, but some things transcend music and can appeal to everyone, and that was what happened with their show. And looking at it in both my unbiased and personal opinion, they were the best band of the night.

They have a few show dates scheduled, and to see where and when, check out their OFFICIAL WEBSITE. And to purchase their albums, go HERE.

It was getting close to the moment I had been waiting for, and I figured I’d either really like this new incarnation of Drowning Pool or really hate them. And at 12:08, after their intro song played, the curtain opened and it was time to find out.

Guitarist, CJ Pierce, bassist, Stevie Benton, and drummer, Mike Luce, were at the ready, and as they tore into their opening song, “Step Up”, Jasen Moreno removed his microphone from the stand, and they were off. It got the excitement going, with its untamed, aggressive sound, and to follow it up, they had a classic and the title track of their 2001 album, “Sinner”. The crowd went crazy upon realizing what song it was, and sang along to almost every word. “…You look at me but you don’t see, understand I’m a sinner. Don’t corner me, don’t lecture me. Raise your hands, you’re a sinner…”.  Most of their set this night was comprised of songs from that release, but they of course had to add in some other stuff, such as one more song from the “Desensitized” album, “Think”. It didn’t do much for me, but I grew more interested with the next one, as Mike started them into “Let The Sin Begin”. It was after all the song that got me interested in the band in the first place. It became apparent with it, though, that I was not digging Jason’s voice, which was a mix of a growl and a scream. I thought (and hoped) it was just those first few songs, but here you had my favorite Drowning Pool song. A song that they opened with when I first saw them a little over a year and a half ago and it had me instantly enthralled. A song that I loved so much it caused me to go to a store and buy their most current record (2010’s “Drowning Pool”). A song that both previous times I had seen them sent me into a state of euphoria. Yet now, I felt nothing. It was just another song. Oh boy, that couldn’t be a good sign for how I was going to enjoy the remainder of their set. Pretty much the same thing could be said about their next song, “Children Of The Gun”, which lacked the edge it did, and afterwards, the sirens from the sample track revved up, beginning their anthem for the people who keep this country safe, “Soldiers”. The talk was kept to a minimum during their set, but after that song, Jasen said they had some members of the service at the show this night, and asked everyone to make some noise for them so they’d know how much we appreciate what they do for us. “…Do y’all want to hear a new song?” he asked after that, which the fans seemed eager to hear. I found it to be so-so, again, because of the vocals. It was still Drowning Pool, though, and in terms of the music it’s about what you’d expect from them (in the best way possible). It kind of surprised me that, that was only one of two new songs they did (I guess they’re keeping the bulk of it under wraps until their new record is out). But that meant they could do a lot of what people wanted to hear, like “Pity”. I will say this, Jasen’s voice is most comparable to Dave Williams voice than any other singer the band has had since, so he was able to pull of those classic hits quite well, but it still didn’t engage me. So far this night there had seldom been a break, with at least one of the musicians playing an instrument to bridge the songs together, and that held true at this point, as Mike went into a short drum solo. As he neared the end of it, CJ proceeded to lace a few soft guitar notes over it, sounding just enough like a certain song of theirs. It was a cool prelude to lead them into “37 Stitches”. And near the end of it, before the final chorus, CJ ripped into an amazing guitar solo where he really rocked out. Mike again brought them into the next song, one of the singles from the “Full Circle” record, “Enemy”, before hitting a string of classics. “Follow” was one of them, while Mike next got them going on “Told You So”, which was one of many songs that showed off how tight they are, with Jasen and Mike alternating on who sang certain words of the chorus. For example, one shouted “SHUT UP!” then the other would, and it went back and forth. Jasen made a statement before their next tune, encouraging everyone to pay close attention to the lyrics. “…It’s probably the truest rock song you will ever hear…” he said. I think he was referring to the line, “…I don’t care about anyone else but me… I don’t care about anyone or anything…” from “Tear Away”, and he was sort of right about that. They then broke out another new one, and the first single from their forthcoming album, “Saturday Night”. It is a stellar rock song and I am fond of its mantra (chorus), “…I’m gonna live my life like it’s Saturday night. I’m gonna live my life, sleep when I am dead and buried…” I suspected that was a sign their set was nearing its end, and that seemed even more likely with yet another single, “Feel Like I Do”. Then came the part everyone had been waiting for. Mike began pounding out some beats, and eventually CJ and Stevie added the guitar and bass into the mix. Jasen walked back and forth across the edge of the stage, holding the microphone out towards the crowd, who were shouting, “Let the bodies hit the floor!…” over and over again. I believe it was Mike who started singing “Bodies”, of course whispering the first couple of lines before letting out a scream on the third one. That staple song ended their 75-minute long set, and once it was done, before leaving the stage, they took time to shake some hands of some of the people down front and threw out some picks to the people. I think that’s pretty cool, because not every band makes their appreciation of theirs fans so obvious.

In regards to the show, it was not what I was hoping for. I had listened to that single (“Saturday Night”) and liked it. But be warned Drowning Pool fans, Jasen’s voice does not sound remotely the same in the live setting as the recording(s) would lead you to believe.

No one this night seemed to have an issue with that, and I imagine most Drowning Pool fans won’t. His voice is somewhat of a mix between Dave Williams and Jason Jones’ voices, so if you’re a longtime fan of the band, you’ll probably like it. But for me, it was too big a departure from Ryan McCombs vocal style.

I just don’t think he has that good of a voice, and I guess because of it, I won’t feel like I have to see Drowning Pool the next time they stop by Trees (or any other Dallas area venue).

At least I saw two amazing Drowning Pool shows when Ryan McCombs was a part of the band, and I’ll just have to be satisfied with that.

However, this is still a Drowning Pool concert, and they all (yes, Jasen included) go all out. It’s as intense a performance as you could ever see, and even that one aspect makes it well worth seeing a show.

As for now, they have one last date scheduled, on December 21st at The Midland Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. And to buy all their music, go HERE.

The below photos are courtesy of James Villa Photography. All rights belong exclusively to him.

Drowning Pool

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Ill Nino

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Friday, October 26th, 2012 – Part I: Powered Down

Trees was hosting a special all local concert this night, but it was no mere local rock show. It had been dubbed “Powered Down”, and featured a slew of bands rocking the venue… Rocking it acoustic style that is.

An interesting and great array of bands had been tapped to play this show, which was being recorded live for an eventual live CD, and beginning the night was the Electronic based band, Zhora.

Unfortunately, I missed most of their set, because for some reason the traffic going to Dallas moved painfully slow (40 MPH or less, instead of 60+). I was bummed by this, because I had been wanting to see the band for months now and just hadn’t been able to make it to a show, and this night only got to hear their last three songs or so. Alas.

They were the only band who didn’t really to a true acoustic set, instead, it was toned down. The only music was provided by Taylor Cleveland, who makes all the electronic sounds with a computer, and also acted as a DJ of sorts. While Taylor Rea did the singing, and had a little pad attached to the mic stand, allowing her to alter her voice and add various affects to it. They did the catchy, “The Hold”, and I believe did another song in between it and “Sunset”, which I think was what closed their set. (Note: I haven’t familiarized myself with their music completely, hence why I say “think” and “believe”).

What I caught was really great, though. I guess I can’t draw comparisons to their full show since I haven’t seen one, but this sure seemed to show off Taylor’s voice more then I would imagine a full-band show does. And might I add she has quite an impressive voice.

Great set from what little I caught, and it made me more eager to see a full-band show. I don’t when that will be, but keep a check on their FACEBOOK PAGE to find out when they will have more shows. Also, you can find a four song EP on their BANDCAMP PAGE, which is available for FREE.

The bands sets were kept pretty short this night, but they were also able to get them on and off stage very quickly. So, after a twenty minute or so break, Admiral Grey was ready to do a 23-minute long set.

I was surprised to see the band as a trio, rather than just singer and rhythm guitarist, Aaron Pose, and lead guitarist, Krishen Anthony. The other member joining them was Justin Labosco, who added some beats on a cajon. Another thing that surprised me (and pleasantly so) was that they did some of their heavier songs, which frankly, I didn’t expect to hear. That included their opener, “Dead To Me”. It actually translated pretty well into an acoustic form, and in some ways, it even gave it an extra punch, as Aaron belted out the chorus, “There’s no more tears for me to cry, no more loving you tonight. I won’t regret you, just forget you. You’re dead to me…”. Justin tore it up on that song, maybe a little too hard, as shook his hand like it was hurting him. “Oh, did you hurt your little hand?” Aaron asked him, in a tone a parent might talk to a two or three-year old child, resulting in most of the crowd and Justin laughing. They then moved on as Aaron asked the crowd a question. “How many hard working men do we have out here tonight?”. That was the set up for “Just a Man”, which was one of the songs I expected to hear this night. Afterwards, Aaron took time to promote their upcoming CD release, and told everyone who hadn’t heard of them before that they could look up the band on Facebook to find out all the info on those upcoming shows. “…I have no life…” he stated, after informing everyone he was on there all the time, and jokingly warned that he might even become a stalker on your page. There are moments like that in their full-on rock show, but this one did a much more laidback vibe to it, and that played a part in making this show so enjoyable. They then did “My World”, a softer song that was definitely made to be performed acoustically, but not the same thing can be said for “Pulling Strings”. Don’t get me wrong, it still sounded fantastic, but as gritty as the song is, I really didn’t think they’d do it here, but am glad they did. Aaron gave the show a bit of a storytellers feel, stating that, that previous song was about the music business, and how people are always pulling strings, and it was either it or their final song that he said was originally going to be the title track of their forthcoming EP. He continued, saying they then settled on the title “Long Road”, because each of them have been down some long roads in their musical endeavors. And a song that kind of fits along those lines is the one they closed with, “Don’t Know Me at All”.

Their set passed by rather quickly, but you can’t do much in terms of making it longer when you have six other bands on the bill. They were able to hit the highlight songs, though, and I have been wanting to see one of Aaron’s solo shows for a little while now, so it was cool to finally catch one. Granted, this wasn’t solo, but it was acoustic, and that’s the main thing. And after seeing one, I’d like to see more.

By the time I get this posted, the band’s debut EP, “Long Road”, will have been unleashed upon the world, and their Texas tour to celebrate its release will have already happened. So, you might be able to find it online in say, iTunes. They also have another show coming up on November 17th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at the Chameleon Room. Oh, and you can find a FREE download of their single, “Dead to Me”, on their REVERBNATION PAGE.

After them was a band I had not seen in far too long, and even if it was an acoustic show, I was looking forward to finally seeing them again. And that was Exit 380, who was doing a full-band acoustic gig.

Before the curtain even opened you heard vocalist, Dustin Blocker, start playing his harmonica, and if you knew the band’s music, then that made it clear what song it was. It was the final track from their latest record, “Missy Gardner”, which is my personal favorite song from the album. It sounded more fitting being performed acoustic, and while I didn’t the song could get any better, this made it better. I believe Jeremy Hutchison played a mandolin on that song, while Jon Hutchison softly plucked the strings on his acoustic bass, and really, all of the instruments on that song seemed to play towards Dustin, and making his voice even more prominent. Perhaps the best part of that song on the record is the closing piece that comes after a minute or so of silence. I guess it is a reprise of sorts of their song, “Soul Burning Train”, but is just played on the keys with Dustin singing the chorus, and I was thrilled to hear them add that on the end here, as he softly crooned, “I woke from a dream and escaped this soul burning train. A driver or a rider? Either way, it’s a coatless day in the rain.” That served as a prelude to the full version of “Soul Burning Train”, which lead guitarist, Aaron Borden, started, while Jeremy switched out to an acoustic guitar. The pace did pick up with that song, and Jody McCauley was able to get a little more aggressive on the drums, or at least the partial kit he was using. After finishing it, Blocker formerly introduced the band to the crowd. “…We’ve been around for awhile, but tonight we’re playing our newer songs…” he announced, then told everyone what their next song was going to be. “I think it’s called Where Do We Go?” he said, then looked at Aaron. “Where do we Go From Here”, he then said, getting the title right that time. It was another tune that really fit the acoustic vibe, and I also think it was the one that Aaron played with a pedal steel guitar. It was followed by a short little song that was exclusive to a compilation record their record label released, “A Song About Us”, while capping off their 20-minute long set was “Run For The Gold”.

I see these guys so infrequently that I really forget how amazing they are. Even with this acoustic set and even with the abbreviated set time, it was still incredible. Blocker’s voice was nothing short of superb this night (and that can also apply to pretty much every other show they do). And while the Alt/Country sound is a big departure from the bands previous material, they still pull it off with ease, and it really came in handy in this scenario, since so much of the “Townies” record can translate perfectly into acoustic songs.

If you want to listen to or purchase their music, you have a couple of options. They have it for sale on either BANDCAMP or ITUNES, so check out whichever outlet you prefer. And everything aside from “Townies” is more Rock music, if that is more your style. Also, be sure to check out the first Hand Drawn Records Compilation, which features one of those songs from their set, and the label also just released a Volume Two Compilation. Both feature a plethora of artists and can be downloaded for free.

After they finished, I ducked out and headed to another venue one street over. Nothing against the other bands that were playing, but I wanted to see this other band more and if you want to know more about that show, I’ll have a review of it up soon.

I got back right when David Cote was finishing his set, which meant The Orange was up next, and they were the band I was most intrigued to see. If you don’t know The Orange, they aren’t really an acoustic band. They’re high-energy Rock with even a Psychedelic flare to it, so they were definitely going to be out of their element this night.

The Orange began with only three of their members on stage, singer and guitarist, Scott Tucker, guitarist, Kirk Livesay, and drummer, Cody Waits. However, Cody wasn’t doing anything with percussion, instead, he too had an acoustic guitar. They were also joined by the skilled harmonica player and their go-to guy of sorts, Chicago Dan. It sure looked like it was going to be different, and it was, as Scott announced their first song was called, “We’re All Going Down”, and Cody sang it. It was a bit weird to see Scott relegated to being a backing vocalist, but on the flipside, Cody has a really great voice. I was kind of surprised, since it’s easy to think of him as just being a drummer, since that is his typical instrument, but this made it clear his talent goes well beyond that. Their next tune I believe was titled, “Peace of Mind”. Cody again acted as the main singer on it, though it was more co-sung between him and Scott, with the two voices mixing perfectly. I think it was after that song Cody took over his normal role of adding some beats, while they welcomed a guest musician to the stage. His name was Buddy Neighbors, and according to Scott, he’s a legendary Blues guitarist. Scott also said something along the lines of he was the best musician he knew, then added, “…Right after Chicago Dan.” “This is an old Orange song…” he went on to say, telling everyone it was “Kiss, Kiss. Bang, Bang”. For the record, that is one of my all-time favorite Orange songs, like, top three, and it had been years since I last heard it. I never forget about, though, and hoped it would sometime find its way back into the set, as some of the songs off their EP had done after the band got back together. Anyway, the song was every bit as good as I remembered, even done acoustically, and like so many of the bands other songs, it is insanely catchy. At this point, Jason Wessup made his way down the stairs from the green room and to the stage, to add the sounds of his bass to the bands new single, “Mr. Moneymaker”. It was (obviously) toned down, and did lack the high-strung performance that usually accompanies it, but that didn’t mean it was any less good. Upon finishing it, Buddy left the band, while Kirk switched out his guitar for a cello, and Chicago Dan also helped turn the show on its head, by using a rain stick instead of his harmonica. Scott’s sister, Melissa Tucker, also joined them, and she brought a clarinet into the mix. Not that they didn’t have it before, but all of that made sure they had my undivided attention. I missed the name of this last song of their 27-minute long set, but it was truly gorgeous. It didn’t sound like your standard Orange song, but that’s okay, because every band needs to do the occasional song that breaks the mold they cast themselves into, and this one accomplished just that. It was just outstanding, and a most excellent way to cap things off.

I mentioned they were going to be out of their element this night, and while they were, they didn’t at all seem it. Instead, they appeared completely comfortable performing the songs in this setting, like it was something they had done dozens (or even hundreds) of times before. And to be totally honest, I did have some reservations about how this was going to go, but quickly realized I had no reason to have those thoughts. Actually, I’d like to see these acoustic shows become more of a semi regular thing, because in some ways, this was one of the best shows I’ve seen them do.

As of right now, their next show on the books is going to be a FREE one at Sundown at Granada in Dallas on Saturday, December 15th. They are also currently in the studio working on their debut full-length album, so why not go pick up a copy of their first EP, “A Sonic Collection of Stories from La La Land”. That way not only will you have something to whet your appetite for their full-length, you can also help get a little money in their pockets to help with the cost of making a record.

Closing out this show was Paco Estrada, but he wasn’t alone like I thought he may be. Scotty Isaacs (who is a great musician on his own) was playing keys for Paco this night, while Ladrell James made some beats on a partial drum kit. There was also a female backing vocalist that sit in a chair on stage right, though I didn’t recognize her, and I never heard them say who she was.

Paco started strumming his guitar, and with just the first few notes revealed the song to be just what I thought he’d open with, “The Damage That’s Done”. “Been living my life like a ghost in the rain, slowly losing my mind, slowly going insane. Wondering around in the middle of the road. Just another lost soul in another fishbowl…” It was then when the keys and drums came in, and brought that song to life in a way I had never heard it before. It’s a standout track from “The Definite and Indefinite…”, and a favorite of mine, but tonight it sounded as true to the recording as I’ve heard it. The backing vocalist sang with Paco throughout it, adding a beautiful layer to it, as she, too, had a sensational voice. It was followed by another track from that album, “When We Were Made”, which is perhaps the most beautiful love song ever written. “…When we didn’t have to use a stairway to heaven, and you never had to be alone. That’s when we were made…” goes one of the lines before the second chorus. A twenty to thirty second-long instrumental intro led them into the next song, which had me wondering what song it was until right at the end. “I keep my ghost from haunting you. I just let go, and walk away. And when you think that the clouds have cleared, I’m gonna call your name…” he sang, the opening line of “Haunting Me”. It is one of a few songs of his that he usually adds part of a cover to, and sure enough, after one of the last choruses, he broke into the chorus from Whitney Houston’s, “I Want to Dance with Somebody”. “…Oh, wanna dance with somebody. I wanna feel the heat with somebody. Yeah, wanna dance with somebody. With somebody who loves me…”. He’s done that cover for a little while now, and while it does strike me as being an odd fit for the song, I still works, as Paco’s rich, soulful voice is able to tie it into his own song. Once that one concluded, Paco told everyone they were “…going to do a new song…”, and even dedicated it to Scott Tucker of The Orange. That particular song was “American Girls”, which was first played about a month before when Paco did his first show fronting The Last Romantica. That was one of my favorite songs from that other show, and I was glad to hear it again, which made me think it will become more of a regular at shows. It’s an incredible song, that has a real feeling of Rock nostalgia to it, and for the few short minutes the song lasts, you feel yourself being transported to a simpler time. A couple more songs followed, which I suppose were also newer ones and after them Paco announced they were going to end on a sad note. And really, what better way to end a show. “Breaking Down” definitely has a sadness to it, for example the second verse, “My father had a heart attack at fifty-eighty… He told us that if he went under, he didn’t want them to resuscitate. My mom believes that I’ll become that man… She says she’s just awaiting the phone call when they tell her that her son is dead…”. Towards the end of it, he again integrated part of a cover song into his own tune, this one by K’s Choice. “Breathe it in and breathe it out, and pass it on, it’s almost out…” he sang, before belting out the chorus of that song, “…It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive. If you don’t have it you’re on the other side. I’m not an addict…” “Not an Addict” works perfectly with that one, and after singing a few portions of it, Paco returned to his song. “…Can you hear that sound? And if you listen to it now, it’s the sound of my heart breaking down…”, he crooned, as they brought the song and their 42-minute long set to an end.

That was an alright end with me, but there were evidently a lot of Paco fans out there, because they immediately started chanting for one more. It didn’t take long for them to decide to do one more, but Paco noted it would not be one of his. He then went on a brief speech, talking about how “…a lot of guys think they know everything…”, in terms of the fairer sex, when really, they don’t. He then asked for everyone, mainly the guys, to truly pay attention to the next song and it’s lyrics, saying it contained a lesson that everyone could learn from and would help them out. He made it out like this song could be the equivalent of revealing the meaning of life, and I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not what they ended up doing. I couldn’t help but laugh at first when I realized it was a song that Cyndi Lauper made famous, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, but he also hit the nail on the head with everything he had said prior.

Overall, it was a good set from Paco, and that song was a much better note to end on. I also really dug the sound he and his “band” made this night, and in terms of Paco’s solo shows, I think this was one of the best I’ve seen.

Paco has a vast array of music available, most of which can be found on his BANDCAMP PAGE.

It was a great night all around, too, and every band did a spectacular set. Now, to wait for Trees to release the live recording of this show, which I guarantee it will be something you will want to hear.

Now, enjoy some crappy cell phone pictures I got…

Paco Estrada

The Orange

Exit 380

Admiral Grey

Zhora

Saturday, September 15th,2012 – Trees’ 3rd Anniversary

So far I’m two for two at seeing Trees’ anniversary shows, and now after this night, I’m three for three.

It has been a little over three years now since Clint Barlow reopened the legendary Dallas venue, and to help celebrate this year’s event he had gotten Bowling for Soup to return to the club, after playing there four short months earlier.

I don’t know when the show started, but evidently it was early, because when my dad and I got there shortly after 8:30, the first band, The Hollow Empire, had already done there thing.

I can’t say I’m disappointed, because I don’t know anything about them, but hey, if they were playing an event like this, they must be pretty good.

We did at least get there early enough to see one of the bands I wanted to see, though, and that was Ten Can Riot.

I had seen the band once before, but that had been two plus years ago, so I didn’t recall much about them, but once they got going, my memory was refreshed a little bit.

They are a trio that churns out some Punk/Rock music that could easily compete with the best of the best. Singer and guitarist, Scotty, is an Australian, and his accent adds an extra element to the songs, frequently shining through on the songs, such as “Got My Rights”, where he growls out the chorus, “Well I got my rights…”. They tore through their set, and the coolest thing about it was how crowd embraced them. After announcing that they only had one song left, there was an audible sound of disappointment, and I even heard someone say, “Play five more!” Yeah, seemingly no one wanted their set to end, and I was in that group, because Scotty, bassist, Dougie, and drummer, Micko, were killing it. But of course they had to, to make room for the remaining acts.

I think these guys usually play pretty often, but I can’t find any upcoming dates at the moment, so I don’t know when their next show will be. They have a record, which you can order online via their OFFICIAL WEBSITE, but it is not available in iTunes or other such retailers. You can listen to their stuff on REVERBNATION, though, and if you like ‘em, go see a show. They will not disappoint.

I had bought the tickets for this show not long after they went on sale, because Bowling for Soup was more than enough reason to get me out to it. But then I found out that The Orange had been added to the bill, and my excitement grew. And those cool cats were next.

A 37 minute set was all they got, but they packed it chalk full of Indie Rock goodness. Their set consisted of their newer material, with a few exceptions of some oldies that have not been recorded, such as their opener, “Such a Drag”. It was a good way to get things going, and while the band rocked out, Tyler Spears, who plays the tambourine, strutted around the stage. Singer and rhythm guitarist, Scott Tucker, ditched his guitar for the next couple of songs, the first of which was “I Want a Girl”. I didn’t know that title of that song until they mentioned it there, but I remember it from the past few shows of theirs I’ve seen, and is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Like so many of their songs, it has a real infectious sound to it. Afterwards, Scott welcomed “Chicago Dan” to the stage, as he walked down from the steps that lead to the greenroom. He lent his harmonica skills on the next couple of songs, one of which I believe was “Doomsday for Mr. Denton”. During that song, Scott left guitarist, Kirk Livesay, bassist, Jason Wessup, drummer, Cody Waits, and the others, as he hopped off the stage and got lost in the crowd. He soon reappeared, and shortly after pulled a young girl on stage. “This is her first concert!” he said, while the girl appeared a little frightened to be on stage in front of so many people, but after seeing Scott jumping up and down, she followed suit. “Scream!” he said at one point, having her scream into the mic., before she eventually left the stage. “I don’t care what anyone else says, Rock ‘N” Roll saves.” Scott said as the song ended, then added, “Raise your hand if you’ve been saved by music.” The bands guitar tech brought out a guitar for Scott, and while that happened, Jason told everyone the next song was called “Mr. Money Maker”. Scott then added it is the first single from their upcoming record (tentatively due out in early 2013). Chicago Dan left after aiding the band on that song, and they soon started their next tune, and one of their longest, “Cityscapes”. As the song builds, the main line that is often repeated is, “Nothing really matters.”, and right before the band ripped into it, Scott said, “The truth is, when you really think about, nothing does matter.” This was the only song that didn’t go off without a hitch, as Scotts’ guitar had some issues, and he switched out a couple of times during it. They ironed out the problem before beginning “Valium”, which Scott said was simply about, “…Taking Valium.” That brought them to their final song of their night, which once again required the sounds of Dan and his harmonica, while Scott set his guitar down for the explosive (no pun intended), “Blow Up”.

I’d say this was the best show I’ve seen the band do since the last time they played here at Trees. Hell, this is quite possible one of the best shows I’ve seen them do period. They were really on top of their game this night, even by their standards.

As mentioned, they are working on a new record, but until then, check out their first EP, “A Sonic Collection of Short Stories from Lala Land”. They also have some more shows coming up, one of which will be on October 12th at The Doublewide in Dallas. They will be back here at Trees on October 27th. Then they have a show at The Door/Prophet Bar (Big Room) in Dallas on November 2nd.

Obviously, people were most excited about seeing Bowling for Soup, and as it got closer to time for them to hit the stage, the people packed in there like sardines and started to chant the band’s name. Then their theme music started, and a vast majority of the crowd was singing right along to it.

The curtain opened with Jaret Reddick, Gary Wiseman, Erik Chandler and Chris Burney already on stage with their instruments, and once the music subsided, they started rocking out. It was just music at first, but then they put the right chords to it, and truly shocked me by opening with one of their biggest hits, “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”. “Sing with me!” said Jaret when they got to the chorus, having the fans sing every other line, such as, “…Turntables in her eyes…”. After it, they took a little break, to talk about Trees and wish the venue a happy third birthday, and soon something was said about needing to be happy, setting up their next song, “Shut-Up And Smile”. I’ve always liked that song, and it’s cool that it’s found its way into the live set, and when listening to it, it really is kind of hard to not smile… Especially when they started talking about how much they loved ice cream, after the line, “…All we need is some ice cream and a hug…”. The end of that song saw the start of the bands typical banter in between songs. “…I think we found the secret to having a great show.” Jaret said. “Only charge three dollars… At this rate, we’d only have to do ten shows a day and still get to live in a van!” He then started setting up the next song, saying it was about his ex-girlfriend, who caught “The Clap”. That led to a hysterical conversation revolving around, “What exactly is The Clap?” “Don’t ask me, I failed health education…” Chris said. They knew it was either Gonorrhea or Syphilis, but the audience couldn’t provide a definite answer, either. I think they finally decided on the former, and Jaret again said this was song about his ex, “…Who got Al Caponed…”. “He died of Gonorrhea, right?” he said, saying something like that gem of a joke could have just been ruined. They got to the song after that, as Jaret started, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this, another dose of unhappiness…”, begging of course, “Emily”. Around this point it was mentioned that they almost didn’t make it to this show and would have been stuck in Toledo. “…Which wouldn’t have been too bad. There’s stuff to do it Toledo…” said Jaret, in a hesitant voice. “Yeah, Detroit’s not too far from there.” Erik added. “…We were so close to Detroit we could actually hear the gunshots…” he added. Then, after asking his band mates how they were doing, Chris said he was having a “bad pants day”, which led to a little discussion about his pants. As that topic neared the end of discussion, they started softly playing their instruments, doing an intro of sorts that soon gave way to a fan favorite, “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)”. During the sing-along portion, everyone was asked to raise their hands in the air. “If the person next to you isn’t doing this, then they hate puppies.” Jaret told everyone, and after the crowd swayed their arms back and forth for a bit, he then asked them to do “jazz hands”. “Okay, now spirit fingers!” he exclaimed. Afterwards, Jaret took a breath mint or something, saying he thought his breath was bad, and offered Chris one. “…I need some of that ball fresh…” he said, which soon turned into a joke about how much he stank. “Can you smell him out there?” Jaret asked. They said it’s sometimes hard to shower when you don’t have one, and Chris said something like, “…What am I supposed to do? Wash my dick in the sink?” That hygiene topic went on for a few minutes, and then Jaret asked how many “really good singers” were in the crowd. “Okay, how about how many bad singers?” he asked, and they really outnumbered the good ones. “Okay, I’m going to need you good singers to help out the bad ones during this next song.” he finished, as they broke into “Almost”. They got to the bridge, and that was when he said the good singers needed to help the bad ones, as the audience sang, “I almost forgot to say something else, and if I can’t fit it in I’ll keep it all to myself…”. Another random conversation started after that tune, and eventually led to “closet peeers” (is that even a word?). “But there is one man who has peed in more closets than anyone…” said Jaret, who asked that one of their roadies come out on stage, saying he held that title. SO, what’s a good song to play after talking about peeing? How about the delightful, innuendo filled song, “My Wena”. Upon finishing it, they reminisced about when they used to play Trees, back in the day. “We’d play here on Wednesday nights.” Jaret said, noting their audience then was the other bands and the bartender(s). “…And it was so cool. Back then, we used to get to pay full-price for drinks!” Chris chimed in, “So we didn’t drink.” “Yeah, once they start giving this stuff to you, it’s all over.” Jaret added. They then got ready for their next song, saying that for the past eight years or so, “…Which isn’t even half of our career…” pointed out Jaret, they have been credited for doing the song, “Stacy’s Mom”. Jaret said that the song went out to a mother and daughter who had bet about who did the song originally, “…[The mother] wins.” he said, before they began the song. When it was over, Jaret said something about how he thought he smelled toast, to which Erik eventually asked him if that made him worried if he ever were to have a stroke, saying something along the lines of, “…You’d be, like, it smells so delicious, but there’s no toast. I must be having a stroke…” “Let’s All Go to the Pub”, a brand new song, came next, and is a song that is done in true BFS fashion. It’s quick and funny (i.e. the line, “…My girlfriend’s acting pissed at me, but that ain’t nothing new. Could it be a birthday or anniversary? Beats the hell out of me…”). It’s definitely bound to be an instant classic. Speaking of classics, they did another one, “High School Never Ends”, which I find even more funny now. There are SEVERAL celebrity names thrown into the song, and after the line, “…And Katie had a baby, so I guess Tom’s straight…”, I kind of laughed to myself, since that couple is no longer together. At this point, someone passed a note up to the stage, which was a coupon for a 44oz. drink that they joked they could all split and each get 11oz. of it. “Yes, I see the note on the back.” Jaret told the person, then Chris took it from him. “Oh, it says “Chris has a lovely dick.” “Now if you’re going to get a note, that’s the kind of note to get. Saying that you dick is lovely.” Jaret joked. Someone from the audience said something, and Jaret quipped back at them quickly and then they immediately started the Phineas and Ferb theme song, “Today is Going to Be a Great Day”. They didn’t get too far, though, before stopping, and Jaret said he was feeling so good from his joke a moment earlier, he hit the wrong note, so he wanted to start the song over. Another short song followed, which was done after they said they “made mistakes” in their youth and did power ballads, rather than keeping things short and simple, and it was one they “made up” there on the spot. “What should we sing about?” asked Jaret, before asking a girl what her name was. It was Holly, and they said they were going to do a 45 second song about Holly. “…Holly, you’re standing fifteen feet in front of me…” was one of the lines, and they only got so far, before the 45 seconds were up. Chris then said something about rock musician, Sebastian Bach, would probably be contacting them wanting to do that song. “If he did it, it would go like this.” Jaret said, as they proceeded to do the song with an 80’s rock flare to it. Chris then joked they could do it like Dokken. “But see, if we did that, we’d be the only ones who understood it.” Jaret told him, essentially saying everyone here was to young to remember that band. When that was all done, they took a beer break, then launched into “The Last Rock Show”. “Now everybody, put your hands up like this!” Jaret instructed, flashing the rock hand sign. “If the person next to you isn’t doing this, than that means they hate gonorrhea…Which, is a good thing.” he slowly said, and I’m going to guess he botched that joke ever so slightly, though it was still good, and then they tore into “Punk Rock 101”. They (or rather their road crew) had, had some rough moments around this time, as a fat guy somehow started crowd surfing, ended up on stage, and then started trying to fight Tony when he tried to get him off stage. And by fight I mean it looked like blood was about to be drawn. So, during “Punk Rock 101” the band did their photo moment, where they pose on all sides of the stage so fans can get pictures, and Jaret said something like, “For the first time ever attempted at Trees after a fat guy jumped on stage and nearly started a fight…”. After the picture taking, they joked about the situation, which was really funny because they continued performing the song, though all four of them watched as they guy pulled Tony to the floor where they wrestled for a moment. “…You guys are like, “Fuck it, we only paid three dollars to get in here and we’ve already heard Girl All the Bad Guys Want…” said Jaret (or at least something like that), then said that would have to be the name of their Greatest Hits. “…The thing is, we need a lot more hits. Otherwise we’re stuck with a shit sandwich.” said Chris, to which Jaret said they were running out of time. They slowed things down a little with “When We Die”, and then invited Clint Barlow, the owner of Trees, who had gotten on stage before the band started to thank everyone for coming out, back up on the stage for one more speech, which he reluctantly did. Trees does have several Hard Rock and even occasionally Metal bands come through, so to honor that Jaret said they had the perfect song, Britney Spears’s, “Baby One More Time”. Once it was done, Chris took notice of the giant ceiling fan that the venue has, saying, “That’s a big fan… I could use that in my bedroom.” “I’d be worried that if you had that in your bedroom your whole house would float away.” Jaret told him. They stayed on that topic for a bit longer, and then began their final song, which was of course, “1985”. Towards the end, they had the crowd sing the chorus to them while they took another beer break. “That’s right, you do all the work and we still get paid.” Jaret told everyone. Their break wasn’t too long, though, and after finishing it, Chris mentioned he wished they had put a double chorus at that spot. “Well why not do it now?” Jaret told him, and the fans again sang it, before they came back and finished what little was left of the song.

That brought an end to their 81 minute set, and for the first time ever (or I guess second, counting when I saw the band on the Warped Tour in ’04), they did not do an encore. Why? There was a DJ who was filling the rest of the time, right up to two AM, so the bands gear had to be gotten off stage.

For the sheer fact of wanting more, I wish they had been able to do a couple encores, but still, they had done everything that the people expected to hear and then some, so there’s no denying it was an incredible set.

BFS will soon be doing a UK tour, stretching from mid-October to early November. They also have a new record Called “One Big Happy”, which is more of an EP of sorts, featuring music from them, The Dollyrots and Patent Pending. You can find it, and all their previous albums, HERE in iTunes.

All the way around it was an awesome show that Clint had assembled at Trees, and a very good way to mark its third anniversary. Go see a show there sometime and help make the place get to four years.

Below are some crappy cell phone quality pictures I took:

Ten Can Riot

The Orange

Bowling for Soup