Sunday, May 4, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: Jon Benet, Sharks and Sailors, Oh Pioneers, and Closet City @ Walters Dead Roses and The Wiggins @ River Oaks

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:19 AM

Let me just say that doing yardwork and getting covered in a blanket of pollen before heading out to see a Jon Benet show may not be the smartest idea. Nevertheless, a short nap, some Mountain Dew, some Claratin, and I was pretty good to go...well at least for most of the night.

Over at Walters, I got in early enough to catch the opening band, Closet City, who played a short but pretty solid set. Given the heavy riffing, the vocalist screaming, and the loud-ass drummer you'd have thought these guys would move a bit more but no. The guitarist, for example, would run through these great riffs and aside from his fretting hand nothing moved. But performance aside, the music was pretty solid straight-up hardcore with metal tinges. PS guys, you don't have to ask people meekly to come on up closer to the stage, just rock and they will come.

Oh Pioneers were, for me, the biggest kick of the evening. Eric was, as usual, busting his lungs with his vocals and squeezing every ounce of emotion he could out of each song. That was no surprise but with Papermoons filling in as Eric's rhythm section, the songs played as they've never done before. The bass was a revelation as it filled out the sound from the more thin sound and almost Big Black-like crunch of the Chris Ryan era. That's no complaint on those shows (which were great) but the songs clearly needed that low end to give them some color and warmth. Nice surprise guys.

Sharks and Sailors followed with another solid set. I stood in front of Mike's amps and got the full dose of the stereo Marshall/Mesa amp set-up which is really sweet. [ I always wonder how it would sound if those cabinets were more spread out. Would it have any effect? Just wonderin'. ] Phil and Melissa proved why they are such a formidable rhythm section with their great bass lines and powerful drums. The best moment was the closing song (Condor?), which plays it smart enough to hold back and play-up the dynamics for all it's worth. The song swings into this shimmering atmospheric part near the end then roars into a a full force coda that simply kills. When is that new album coming out?

The Jon Benet closed the evening and proved why they have it so tough as a band. Here is the Jon Benet's problem. How the hell do you get what they do onto a recording? Their shows are simply incredible. Micahel Murland is a great frontman. He howls, screams, spits, and flings his body about getting all the boys up in front of the stage in a frenzy of fists in the air and screaming. The guitars are loud. The drums unstoppable. That force that hits you live is why, no matter how great they are as a band, their albums leave me cold. It's like that first MC5 record. Imagine if they'd recorded that in the studio? No way! It's impossible and they knew they couldn't do that! The Jon Benet should maybe consider the same - get the sweat, spit, and bruising of their live shows on a release. That would be incredible. Oh the curse of being TOO good live!

At Midnight, I headed off to the River Oaks Theatre as I heard The Wiggins and Dead Roses were playing upstairs. Mind you, by this time, I was pretty beat but it was on the way home - why not? I got there and found a small wedding party, the Young Mammals, and the Wild Moccasins hanging out. It was pretty low-key affair as the next hour consisted of the bands setting up and, if I was beat when I arrived at midnight, by 1 am (when things started) I was furiously nodding off. The Wiggins' set was, to be honest, a disappointment but it was still an honorable try. His hand, wrist, or arm (I'm not sure which) was injured and he clearly was having trouble playing guitar as his set went on. Finally, after about four songs, he just couldn't physically do it. He apologized, gave it one more failed attempt, apologized again, and sadly ended his set. Well, at least he gets points for a valiant effort.

While I was really dead, I stuck around for most of the Dead Roses set. (Hey, I actually liked them with a drum machine.) Ralph's vocals were outstanding and the guitars sounded great. It was probably the quietest Dead Roses show I'd seen but still solid. Bonus were the Betty Page films running behind them which (along with my fatigue) added a surreal quality. Lovely set but after about 2am I had to turn-in before I fell asleep on the road. Still, it was worth sticking around to see.

One last thing, the 2am departure meant I didn't make it to Dunnock's birthday shindig at the Mink so, hey Dunnock, Happy Birthday.

Closet City: we rock but we don't move much

Oh Pioneers, Your rhythm section kills!!!

Sharks & Sailors: Yes, they has a Tambourine!

The JonBenet: Inciting a riot!

The Wiggins: ...and JEM!!!

Dead Roses rock with Betty Page!


The Jonbenet
Sharks and Sailors
O Pioneers!!!
Closet City

Dead Roses
The Wiggins
More Pics:

Dead Roses & the Wiggins (Flickr Link)
Jon Benet, Sharks and sailors, Oh Pioneers, Closet city (Flickr Link)

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: The Dirtbombs with Kelley Stoltz and Dead Roses at Rudyards 28 March 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 8:22 AM

Welcome to my new live review column for the Free Press' blog in which I recap for you some fine shows in our town under the helpful guidance of Jameson and Lone Star.

Larry Pirkle (aka PRKL8R) is a Houston institution and I got a total laugh when he wrote the following on Hands Up Houston:

"the only thing you didn't get a picture of was the empty floor like 10 seconds after they stopped playing at 20 til 2. did anyone notice that they didn't play "21st century" or "stop"? that's because they were saving them for the encore that no one even gave the energy to ask for. yeah, people texting in the front row, a crowd of ####ers standing in my way (not dancing, standing) with their arms crossed, and an entire crowd that just turned and walked away without cheering for an encore as if they were just happy to have the whole damn thing over with. Houston is weak. "

God, I love Larry because he doesn't fuck around. Damn it, the Dirtbombs came to town, rocked your face off, and you were too stupid to ask for more. I love that! And yes, I was one of the losers who ran downstairs with his friends and enjoyed a few more drinks outside of Rudz on a lovely night. Guilty as charged but, let's face it, The Dirtbombs played a pitch-perfect set. It was like eating some finely prepared meal and you wouldn't dare ask the chef for another course so instead you sit there patting your rotund belly and maybe emitting a burp of satisfaction. Really, they pegged it! I mean unless you were at the warehouse party watching American Sharks and The Young Mammals with Mlee Suprean ripping it up so hard that the yuppie bastards in the townhouses finally called the cops to shut them down, you should have been here. With that one exception, if you weren't in the room as the band ripped through their set with the force of an 18-wheeled semi, you seriously missed out on some serious rock and roll. But let's cut back a few hours and take it from the top...

I swear, I had planned on catching the Dead Roses' full set but circumstances being what they were I had a few drinks and chat with my friends beforehand and time just got away from us. Sorry, that kind if thing will happen. Sometimes you make it on time and other times you sit in a patio hearing gory stories of someones giant puss filled spider bite. Thankfully, I did at least roll-in and catch the last song from the Roses right when it began. Danny Mee on the drum kit was a treat and Ralph was ripping it up front on the bass. You can imagine my disappointment when Ralph then said "Thank you!" and the band started packing-up its gear. The Roses have some great songs and I always get a kick out of watching them play live. C'est la vie.

San Francisco's Kelley Stoltz followed with a great little set even if perhaps only Will Adams, I, and a maybe handful of people stood up front to catch it. Really some lovely bouncy 60's inspired garagey pop. (Attention John Sears and Joe Mathlete you may like want to check this fellow out. ) Smaltz moved from keyboards to guitar in the set which seemed a bit odd as he seemed more comfortable behind the keys but the set never lost its hop. His backing band was nimble and had the nice touch of having one fellow on sax and xylophone which added some very much appreciated texture outside of the standard rock triumvirate of guitar, bass, and drums. Now, don't get me wrong this wasn't a holy crap they rocked that shit out kind of performance; this wasn't a Fatal Flying Guilloteens set. Instead, this was a band that was clearly concerned with presenting the songs for you and doing it right - no frills despite the extended band. Kelly Stoltz was like sitting on your porch on a hot summer day and someone brings you a ice cold drink and right then you get a nice cool breeze. Nothing big or pushy but beautiful in its simplicity and you can't help but admire Stoltz's confidence in simply letting his songs do all the heavy lifting. I was very glad to have caught it.

/bin/kick > jams
or should we say
fsck out the jams!

Let's move on to the main course! The Dirtbombs. The motherfuckin' Dirtbombs. They come in all dual-op - two guitars, two basses, and two drummers - and proceed to pile-drive through their set. Sure Mick Collins didn't run around the stage like a mad man. We'll leave those parlour tricks to people like Ted Nugent. No, Collins didn't need to do that - the man simply owned the stage and, with his army behind him, he was unstoppable. Now, the Dirtbombs' webpages don't really help when it comes to getting some names so you'll have to excuse me but his second guitarist was great - flailing away and ripping it up - while the drummers hit you with the relentless beat of each song.

I mean Larry was right! How were we not dancing?! I was standing on a speaker, snapping pics, and drunk off my ass - I simply couldn't dance unless I wanted to look like some hideous go-go dancer. But really, the floor should have been hopping. What the fuck was wrong with us? You'd think the heat, sweat, and energy coming front he stage would be enough to make the place hop like some perverted whack-a-mole. Me? Personally I think I was just awestruck by the band and like a deer in headlights with a shit-eating grin on my face while they played their set. I mean you simply couldn't move. It was like "holy fuck they are kicking it so hard that I am paralyzed"! Truly we were not ready for what they brought down from Detroit**. Take heed if you are in another city and reading this! If the Dirtbombs are coming your way, you have been warned!

* Unix jokes courtesey of Clinton Heider

** I stupidly put Chicago originally. Thanks Dan for the correction. My Ted Nuget swipe and MC5 reference now make a bit more sense now, huh. I have no clue what happened there.

Pics my me

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