Judas Priest/Pop Evil - Nokia Theater, 8/13/09
Judas Priest's Rob Halford
Luckenbach - the largest guitar ensemble
With the recent cancellation of Whitesnake from the bill, Pop Evil had some rather large shoes to fill with their extended set. The band did an admirable job, considering few, if any, in the crowd knew their material. They made the most of their time with melodic hard rock and an energetic show.
Judas Priest started off on a simplified stage set, with the band front and center, simply belting out the tunes. The band celebrated the 30th anniversary of their seminal British Steel record by playing it in its entirety, and making it feel like you were watching them in 1980. It was absolutely electric.
Afterward, Rob Halford replaced his denim jacket with his traditional heavily-studded leather long coat. The stage opened up with bigger lights, multi-levels, ramps and the works. For the next 90 minutes, they slammed through classics like “The Ripper,” “Freewheel Burning,” “Diamonds & Rust” and the best ever take on “Victim Of Changes.” The mighty Priest might just have delivered the best show of their storied career. (Kevin White)
Saxon/Starz/Rick Sanford - Sunken Garden Theater, San Antonio, 8/22/09
Original Legs Diamond frontman (and current San Antonio resident), Rick Sanford made a surprise appearance with his band, the Wolfpack. The crowd-pleasing, three-song set consisted of Legs Diamond classics "Stage Fright," "Walkaway" and "Woman." NYC legends, Starz - featuring awesome vocalist Michael Lee Smith and amazing guitarists Richie Ranno and Bobby Messano - made a rare Texas appearance. Their killer set included "So Young, So Bad," "Fallen Angel" and "Coliseum Rock/It's A Riot." Starz sounded every bit as good today as they did in the 70's.
Saxon has a special relationship with San Antonio fans and always goes above and beyond for them. The band’s extended set featured all the expected big hits but also included favorites "Northern Lady" (a song vocalist Biff Byford said they only play for S.A,), "And the Bands Played On," "Broken Heroes," "The Eagle Has Landed" and "Motorcycle Man." Every Saxon fan should see them in S.A. at least once! It's completely worth the road trip. (Andy Laudano)
Revengeance - O’Riley’s, 8/07/09
It had been quite a while since I’ve seen the band, and my, how they’ve improved! They’ve got the style and all the metal moves down - from leather attire to headbanging and posturing, making for an entertaining show. Vocalist, Taylor Dennis, makes a few trips into the audience, as well as playing his guitar behind his head (on “End of Salvation.”) Others in the band are Curtis Patoni (bass, keys), Sebastain Alverez (lead guitar) and A.J. Carroll (drums). Listen for “Death Before Dishonor” and “Blood Puppets.” Revengeance plays some covers, but mostly original music - all in an 80’s metal style. (Linda Hollar)
The Melvins - House of Blues’ Cambridge Room, 8/26/09
Descending from L.A., the Melvins were readily welcomed by Texans. With no opening act, the band played a double set with a 20-minute break between. Songs included a variety from their impressive and eclectic 15+-album catalog. Although "Kicking Machine" and "Blood Witch" were from their more recent albums, the band showed how well the songs contrast. The former was a bright upbeat tune, while the latter enveloped a distorted down-tempo signature. The Melvins are known for having an idiosyncratic experimental approach, and they do it well. Since the addition of a second drummer in 2006, the original power-trio has even more added depth. The kicker to their unique sound - their looks are equally matched. (Misty Johnson)
Where there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain…
Eric Knudson (EKG), Chris Kiper (Sin Serum) and I took a little trip recently to become a part of history. On Sunday, August 23, we joined 1,856 new friends in the sleepy little burg of Luckenbach, Texas, to set the Guinness Book Of World Records mark for the largest guitar ensemble.
Led by Texas legends like Roger Creager, Monte Montgomery, Gary P. Nunn, Jimmy LaFave and Dallas’ own John Inman, our gigantic hootenanny strummed alive with the first G chord of “Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics).” All the players and the considerable crowd of onlookers sang along as we shattered the record previously held in Germany by a group of 1,809 playing “Smoke On The Water.” Our encore was, fittingly, Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land,” giving the whole event a strange, 60s sit-in kind of vibe.
The only thing cooler than hearing us all hit that first chord together was the sight of nearly 2,000 guitars held toward the sky in victory, after it was announced we owned the record. The event was organized by Voices Of A Grateful Nation, a support group for American soldiers and veterans, with proceeds benefiting the group’s Welcome Home project. It was a great day shared with good friends and good music - kinda the way every day oughtta be. (Kevin White)
The Destro - Rubbergloves, Denton, 8/6/09
That sonic blast you felt 30 minutes up the highway was from our very own group, The Destro, as they cranked out a new song from Harmony Of Discord. The CD is scheduled for release on October 13.
While sneaking in “Bridges Will Burn” and “Beast Burden” from As The Coil Unwinds, Eric Daughtry (vocals), Nick Emde (guitars), Jono Garrett (drums) and Brad Kirkland (bass) cranked out the brutal “Justifiers Of Malice,” the crushing “Face Down In Regret” and the dominating “Persistence Of Ignorance.” Daughtry introduced the hard-hitting “Pestilence Of Deceit” by telling the crowd to “watch what you say to your loved ones.” This was, by far, the heaviest set the band has played. Catch them at Trees on September 25 with It Dies Today. The Destro shouldn’t be just a local band for much longer. (Travis Tutwiler)
Galactic Cowboys - The Door, 8/13/09
After 10 years, the spaceship landed, with the Galactic Cowboys making their return to Dallas for the first of three Texas shows. The main lineup consisted of Ben Huggins (vocals), Alan Doss (drums), Monty Colvin (bass) and Wally Farkas (guitar). The set was a good mix from their catalog featuring songs like “Nothing To Say,” “Sea Of Tranquility,” “It’s Not Over” and “Tilt-A-Whirl.” Halfway through, original guitarist Dane Sonnier joined in on “I’m Not Amused,” “Why Can’t You Believe In Me” and “Space In Your Face.” Sonnier showed he can still deliver the licks, while Huggins’ voice sounded great. Colvin enjoyed stomping around the stage and getting the crowd pumped up. The band had a great time interacting and joking with the small but VERY enthusiastic crowd and, after the two-hour set, they stayed around to meet everyone who wanted to say “hi.” (Travis Tutwiler)
Six Point Hollow - O’Riley’s, 8/29/09
This incredibly talented band (earning new fans at each performance) blends everything great about rock and funk music into an original style. The foursome is Ray Clay (vocals, harmonica), Gary Winkle (guitar), Mike Rogger (bass) and “Sticker” Allman (drums). Performing all originals, their standouts were “Fly Queen” (about 50’s pin up model Betty Page) and “Six Dead Soldiers,” “Last Call” and “Stack It On Me.” They had the house rocking and grooving. Six Point Hollow is a breath of fresh air in the DFW music scene, with a sound that’s right for many different area clubs. (Kim “Kimber” Polen)
Trees Grand Re-Opening - 8/14/09
After sitting as a shell of its former self for what seemed like an eternity, the familiar green neon Trees sign is shining as bright as ever in Deep Ellum. For a moment it was like 1999 all over again - people were milling about Elm Street, vomiting on the sidewalk, and there was a line to get into the place where Kurt Cobain got his ass kicked.
Some might say that Clint Barlow is taking a big chance in a district that the city had once washed its hands of. However, with a Deep Ellum DART Station opening in mid-September, and some other clubs revitalizing, the City of Dallas seems to have changed it’s tune about the area and has begun being supportive.
It’s obvious this is a different Trees. For starters, it’s much cleaner. The building has more of an upscale feel with fresh black paint and the leather couches upstairs. There are even restroom attendants.
Hard Way Down was the first to grace the newly renovated stage this opening weekend. The massive, new sound system pulsated with their blend of alternative and groove metal. Greenville's System Overload followed suit with an energetic set akin to Incubus being bitch slapped by Killswitch Engage.
What made it really feel like old times were Element 80 and Slow Roosevelt, both of whom had some of their first and best shows in the club’s original incarnation.
Element 80 was in top form, as they played old favorites “Broken Promises” and “Scars.” This was Slow Roosevelt’s second and final reunion show, and they played material ranging from their first demo tape to final album, Weightless.
Upcoming - look for national acts such as Days of the New and Kittie along with tons of local talent. (D.J. Ivie)
Weedeater - Doublewide, 8/27/09
On an off-date from their tour with Down and The Melvins, North Carolina's Weedeater swung by Dallas for a well attended Thursday show. These purveyors of down-tempo metal didn't take the stage until the wee hours of the morning, which suited them just fine. It was easy to see why these guys are highly regarded in the stoner/doom scene, because they had a larger than life presence. Singer/bassist "Dixie" Dave sounded as if he gargles with razor blades. Drummer Keko pounded on his skins with reckless abandon while sitting on a road case. If Satan plays guitar, it would sound like Shep's rig did on this night. Most of the material performed was from God Luck and Good Speed - the band's third album and arguably their masterpiece. The slow-driving, hypnotic grooves of this quintessential stoner band left a haze over the crowd. Then suddenly, it was over. These guys are the real deal. Hopefully, it won't take them so long to come back again. (D.J. Ivie)
DevilDriver - House Of Blues, 8/1/09
This year’s Thrash And Burn Tour featured plenty of up and coming bands like Emmure, Veil Of Maya and For The Fallen Dreams. Providence, Rhode Island’s Thy Will Be Done opened the show with a crushing set, and the only band to match their intensity was the mighty DevilDriver.
In support of Pray For Villain, the California quintet wasted no time going for the jugular, hitting the stage with favorites “End Of The Line” and “The Mountain.” They slipped in a few new songs. “Pray For Villains” killed, while “Back With A Vengeance” delivered a hard groove. Guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick dominated the fret board with plenty of leads and smoking rhythms like on “All Who Wander Are Not Lost.” With a high octane set, DevilDriver was on overdrive and never let up the intensity. (Travis Tutwiler)
The Duke Spirit - Superpages.com, 8/22/09
The Duke Spirit's vintage sound paralleled the time when 60's rock and roll was in its prime. Liela Moss' vocal tones were sultry, seductive and reminiscent of a mix between Mazzy Star and Juliet Lewis. TDS plays a stew of instruments. The harmonica and tambourine were woven in nicely with the slide guitar, and together they peppered the set with psychedelic overtones. The openness of the Superpages.com center didn't give justice to this band's overall sound - although, they have the potential to headline big stadiums. Luke Ford (guitar), Toby Butler (bass guitar), Olly Betts (drums) and Liela were all at the top of their game. You can listen to top shelf cuts at www.myspace.com/thedukespirit. (Misty Johnson)
Vains of Jenna - Rockstar Sports Bar 8/21/09
Vains of Jenna has returned to Fort Worth with another in-your-face, ear-splitting dose of rock and roll sleaze done right. Due to the L.A., old school, blistering guitar riffs of Nikki Kin (lead guitar) mixed with front man Lizzy DeVine’s scratchy in-your-face vocals, J.P. White’s (bass) solid heart pounding rhythms and Jackie Stone (drums), you’d never guess these boys are from Sweden and not Los Angeles. The show’s energy level was cranked to 11 from beginning to end, while the guys played tunes from the Lit Up / Let Down album like “Hard To Be Vain,” “Baby’s Got A Secret,” and “ Set It Off.” In the middle of the set they performed an incredibly cool rendition of Tom Petty’s “Refugee,” then immediately Nikki Kin took over vocals and cranked out “Roots Radicals” by Rancid. Another great show you should be sorry to have missed. (Gene Reichert)
The Day God Died - Rubbergloves, 8/6/09
From the Denton area, this three-man metal ensemble - Marco (vocals/lead guitar), Mars (drums) and Brandon (rhythm guitar/vocals) -showed that a bassist isn't always needed. The interludes between guitars complimented each other with technical riffage and rhythmic force, while vocals resembled a crude Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth). The drum section’s solid timing anchored them like seasoned pros. What more do you need? There wasn't much banter between songs, which benefited them. It allowed the crowd to give their undivided attention to TDGD and to enjoy their brand of death metal. There was an older In Flames influence, but it wasn't taken to any extreme. I have high hopes that this band will be making a CD soon! (Misty Johnson)
Beakerfest - O’Riley’s, 8/22/09
A yearly benefit for research into children's diabetes, Beakerfest was once again a success. T-shirts were sold and numerous prizes were raffled off. Seven bands played throughout the afternoon and night - Swan Song, Bebe Le Strange, Rust in Peace, Rip the System, Out of the Cellar, Deneyed and Kevin Stephenson. Swan Song, a tribute to Led Zeppelin, was the grand finale. Members are Richard Pilgrim (lead vocals), Craig Zerba (guitars), Kirk Young (bass /keys) and Larry Lynn (drums). “Good Times, Bad Times.” “Stairway,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Ramble On” were some of the flawlessly played songs, that carried you away to a place in the past. (Jill Jackson)
Reel Big Fish - Palladium, 7/24/09
For a Sunday night show, there was a respectable crowd. The highly age-diversified crowd shook and fluttered like fish out of water to the "Swamp Reggae" jams. When they weren't fluttering, they joined in for a big group pogo session.... an accident waiting to happen, and ya, pretty sure the singer/guitarist thinks highly of Elvis.
We did a little man on the street review after second act, English Beat, and found a couple that had been followers of the band since 1983. It became immediately evident that Swamp Reggae and English Beat specifically represent "the family music" at their home, as the couple’s three children joined in their ceremonious jig. Both acts appeared interestingly eclectic and put on great shows. The Palladium has undergone some renovations since my last visit. It is still a stand-up gig on a concrete floor, but the bars, bathrooms, stage and lighting setup are greatly improved. (Randy Bookout)