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Texas Is The Reason - Live At The House Of Blues, January 6, 2013 [Review + Setlist]

Texas Is The Reason are: (l/r) Chris Daly, Garrett Klahn, Norm Arenas, and Scott Winegard

One fateful day sometime back in the late 1990s I made my way into Vintage Vinyl to pick up whatever albums I could find from four bands that my friend, Dan Huffman, had played for me a few days before.

I would end up buying Horse Latitudes by The Promise Ring, Four Minute Mile by The Get Up Kids, Finding The Rhythms by Hot Water Music, and Do You Know Who You Are? by Texas Is The Reason. Sounds trivial, but this would end up being one of those life-altering type of events.

I ended up seeing The Promise Ring, Hot Water Music, and The Get Up Kids, as much as I possibly could, even traveled out-of-town - mainly to Champaign, IL - to catch their shows. Sadly, I never had the chance to see a Texas Is The Reason show. By the time I was introduced to the band they had since disbanded. I felt like the only way I could ever hear a live Texas Is The Reason show would be to play the split live album they released with Samiam at a really high level on my stereo. We all know that never even remotely comes close to recreating the experience of a live show no matter how loud you turn the stereo up.

In November 2006, my hopes were raised when the band got together to play a show at Irving Plaza in New York City to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the release of their debut - and only - album, Do You Know Who You Are? This show would prove to be a "one time only" gig and no further dates or plans were made by the band.

Fast forward six more years and Revelation Records started to announce plans to have shows to help celebrate the label's 25th Anniversary. News came around that Texas Is The Reason would be headlining the New York installment of the anniversary shows. And then the news hit, the band would be headlining the second night of the Chicago installment of shows. Without hesitation I snagged tickets to the show. I was finally going to be at a Texas Is The Reason show.

The show would be held on January 6, 2013 at the House Of Blues in Chicago, IL. Reunion shows in the freezing winter months in Chicago must just be in the cards for me. In February, 2008 I went up to see a reunited Hot Water Music at the Metro, and in February, 2012 I got to see The Promise Ring reunite, also at the Metro.

I was pretty anxious to get to the venue and ended up getting in the door with plenty of time to look around before the festivities kicked off. The Chicago House Of Blues is definitely a little more intimate than the Orlando and Las Vegas locations I have been to in the past. Normally, I would not describe a venue that has two balcony levels as being intimate, but the distance between the front of the stage and where the balconies started was minimal and really helped keep with the small theater vibe.

Opening the show were Popeye (from Farside), Sense Field, and Into Another. All three acts put on solid sets and were a testament to the level of quality music that Revelation Records has released over the years. The crowd was really into all three openers and many people were heard singing along during all three sets.  One personal highlight was seeing Popeye cover the Dramarama tune, "Work For Food." The set from Sense Field brought back memories of Mississippi Nights, where I saw the band open for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I admit I felt a little guilty though in wishing that the openers would just hurry up and be done. I was getting really anxious and looking forward to finally seeing a band after a 14+ year wait.

At about 11:20 p.m. my wait would come to an end as the house lights went down and the instrumental "Do You Know Who You Are?" started playing over the PA system. An image of the state of Texas filled with alternating colors, patterns, and pictures was projected onto a screen at the front of the stage. As the song came to an end, the screen slowly started to rise out-of-the-way and the curtain was drawn back to reveal the band as they exploded into "Back And To The Left."

As a cruel twist of fate, Norman Arenas' amp decided to cut out within about 30 seconds of the opening song. The band took the setback in stride and powered their way through the song. Norman held his cool and smiled his way through the gear malfunction and took to firing up the crowd by emphatically clapping along with the band. While the guitar tech swapped out amps after the song ended, Norman quipped about how everyone had been waiting 14 years for this show, so they could probably handle waiting a few more minutes.

Even after this minor delay, the band appeared to be in extremely high spirits. The smiles on all of their faces was infectious and they played just flawlessly. Bassist Scott Winegard seemed to be on cloud nine as a smile stretched from ear to ear for most of the set. The crowd sang along with every song and there was a great energy throughout the room. I found it hard to believe that a band that had been inactive for so long was just absolutely killing it. Garrett's voice sounded great and getting to watch Chris Daly play drums was such a thrill. Seriously, Chris Daly is a beast on the drums. Watching him play, especially towards the end of "Antique", floored me.

The band was playing with such a high energy level and with so much joy that you could not help but wish that they had never ceased to be a band after such a short time. Garrett even joked after playing a little riff to check his tuning that the riff was from a new tune they were writing. This joke brought up the realization that the band has stated that they have no plans to write or record any new material. I really made a concentrated effort to just let myself get lost in the performance and soak it all in and make the most of the opportunity.

In just over an hour, the band played its way through their entire catalog and even included two new songs, "When Rock 'N' Roll Was Just A Baby" and "Every Girls Dream." These two new songs were the last songs the band ever wrote but never recorded. The band went back into the studio last year with Producer J. Robbins to record them. The two new tracks will be included in Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection which will be available in February through Revelation.

Even though the band has a few gigs booked on both coasts, they have stated that Chicago was the only and last Midwest show they will be doing. To me, it was very fitting that the last song they played, and the last song I may ever hear them play, was "A Jack With One Eye." This has always been one of my favorite songs and with the lyric, "Your place is still at the heart of my everything," seemed very fitting it would end up being the last song. I am so glad I made my way up for the this show. Thank you to the band for some great memories and for being part of "my everything."

Setlist:

  1. Do You Know Who You Are? (recorded intro)
  2. Back And To The Left
  3. The Magic Bullet Theory
  4. Nickel Wound
  5. Johnny On The Spot
  6. When Rock 'N' Roll Was Just A Baby
  7. If It's Here When We Get Back, It's Ours
  8. There's No Way I Can Talk Myself Out Of This One Tonight (The Drinking Song)
  9. Something To Forget
  10. Dressing Cold
  11. Every Little Girls Dream
  12. The Days Refrain
  13. Blue Boy
  14. Antique
  15. A Jack With One Eye

Cloud Nothings and 1,2,3 play impressive sets at The Luminary [Live Review]

Cloud Nothings-18

By Lauren Smalley

“Holy shit!”

This was the sentiment shouted by one, but shared by all at the Luminary Center for the Arts on Monday night during and after the incendiary set by Cloud Nothings. I thought it was going to be difficult to top the performance that 1,2,3 put on, but I was completely unprepared for the wall of sound that hit.

I got there early enough to catch the first act, Volcanoes, a local group which I have heard a lot of hype about. For a duo, they project some loud, intense noise rock. I definitely enjoyed the heavy barrage of sound made by the drum-and-bass-soaked-in-synth combo, and the enthusiasm of gregarious “front man” Eric Peters was infectious. Both members shared time on the drum kit, adding a different twist to each song, since each has his own unique drumming style. The highlight of their set for me was “Exploding Hands” with its gritty, fuzzy bass line – which caused the kids in the front to completely lose inhibitions and became dancing fools.

After a seemingly short set up, 1,2,3 took the stage. As soon as singer Nic Snyder stepped up to the mic with his denim shirt slightly teasing hints of sweat, I noticed the girls around me moving a little closer to the stage and sharing those aside looks that only girls share. They opened the set with the hit “Work”, which I first heard on last season’s premiere of HBO’s Hung. After reading numerous tweets touting the greatness of the band from the show’s star Stephen Amell, I checked out their stuff and became a quick fan. 1,2,3’s sound is a perfect confluence of '60s era pop and white boy blues – sometimes with tinges of soul or a punk attitude.

The album New Heaven is a great listen all the way through, but if you want to really grasp what 1,2,3 is about, you need to see them live. No recording can capture how Snyder’s ardent vocals caused the females in the audience to twitter and flush. During “Scared, But Not Scared” and “Wave Pool” he was moaning, sweating, growling, whispering, screeching, oozing passion into the crowd. They finished the set with a new song that will début on their second record (according to their Facebook page) called “Leave Me in the Sky With a Lawn Chair.” It was a definite crowd pleaser, short and sweet, and a great indication of what’s to come.

Cloud Nothings took the stage at 10:00pm and did not stop their electrifying onslaught until after 11:00. I have been to hundreds of shows, but I am not sure I’ve ever been more impressed with a drummer’s live performance. The closest comparison I can think of is David Haik from the post-hardcore, screamo outfit Pianos Become the Teeth. Cloud Nothings have been playing festivals and getting a lot of press for some time, even from acclaimed critics like Michael Azerrod.

After opening with “Stay Useless” and catchy “Fall In”, two tracks from the new album Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings launched into “Separation”; an instrumental breakdown that showcased the tightness and synchronicity of the rhythm section. It was such a frenetic and unexpected explosion of talent, that the aforementioned “Holy shit!” was shouted at the culmination.

“Cut You” was a worthy follow-up with the lyrics “Does he hurt you like I do / Can he be as mean as me / Can he cut you in your sleep” being spit out in a rage by wiry front man Dylan Baldi. In the middle of “Wasted Days” the boys catapulted into another strictly instrumental furor, this one lasting a full 12 minutes. Usually jam sessions annoy me during a song, but I was completely blown away by the skills of this band, as a unit and singularly. Guitarists Baldi and Joe Boyer were the highlights this time, with searing, emotional melodies and solos over a dredging bass line.

By the time the set ended, the crowd was sweaty, exhausted, and screaming the lyrics “No future! No past!” right back at the stage. The encore was the showcase for the older songs, and included a funny anecdote about Baldi’s recent run in with Wilco. Even with the pause, everyone was left with ringing ears and heart pumping. “Holy shit” was the perfect reaction.

A Weekend at Coachella - Part 2 - Saturday and Sunday

By Shelia Moore Coming off the high of seeing Refused for the first time ever on Friday night I went back to the festival on Saturday with very few expectations. We started the afternoon watching Childish Gambino on the main stage. I’m a huge fan of Donald Glover in Community and watching him as a rapper was equally entertaining. I think the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that he used a full band while performing. In an era where electronic music is becoming king and musicians are using their computers instead of real instruments this was refreshing to see. After listening to Childish Gambino rap about his love for Asian girls in “You See Me” (Forget these white girls/ I need some variation/ Especially if she very Asian) we walked to the other side of the grounds to get some food and chill out while listening to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I was unfamiliar with Grace Potter before Coachella. Upon hearing her sultry vocals and watching her wail on guitar I became completely enamored with her soul and funk infused style.

Saturday afternoon and evening became our indie-band portion of the festival- mostly by accident. Having recently seen the Head and the Heart headline their own tour back in March, I was a little bored. That’s not to say they didn’t play well; they sounded great and had great set list (it is kind of hard to have variation when you only have one album). Playing their semi-hit “Down in the Valley” mid-set got everyone singing and clapping along- it was one of the few times during the festival that I could tell everyone watching the band genuinely liked the band. They closed with my personal favorite “Rivers and Roads.” The lush harmonies created by Josiah, Jon and Charity gives me tingling chills every time I hear it. (Not to mention, the song was used during a pivotal moment of this current season of "How I Met Your Mother" making it the song and show that much better). Watching keyboardist Kenny Hensley slam his stool on the stage to the beat of the bass drum was the perfect end to the song and their set.  

Multi-instrumentalist and whistler extraordinaire Andrew Bird was a delight to watch, filling his 50 minute set with songs off his brand new record, Break it Yourself, along with old crowd-pleasers “Plasticities”, “Fitz and the Dizzyspells” and “Fake Palindromes.” The highlight of the set was his rendition of “Bein’ Green” that he did for the Muppet movie soundtrack which had even the oldest of fans smiling ear to ear.

Jeff Mangum, of Neutral Milk Hotel fame, prefaced his set with an audio recording telling people that “taking photos and videos were strictly prohibited” which kind of made me laugh. What made me laugh even more were all the cameras and smartphones I watched shoot straight up in the air the minute he came on stage. Nice try, Jeff. He opened his set with just his acoustic guitar playing “Two Headed Boy, Part 2,” bringing out the drummer and horns for “In the Aeroplane over the Sea” and several other Neutral Milk Hotel songs. Because he played a majority of his set acoustically I became very aware of how close together the organizers placed the stages. You could clearly hear the band on the main stage during the especially quiet parts. I realize that is the nature of a big festival but that didn’t make it any less distracting.

The Shins, Bon Iver, and Radiohead were back to back on the main stage. We lingered far in the back unwilling and unmotivated to push our way through the hoards of people get a closer spot. While I enjoyed The Shins and Bon Iver had an impressive stage set-up and sounded amazing, they definitely were not the highlight of my Coachella weekend. The cold desert night and numb feet got the best of us so we only stayed for a few songs of Radiohead, who I don’t care much for, but my husband assures me they were awesome.

Sunday was my favorite full day of the festival, mostly because all of the bands we cared to watch were all playing back to back on the same stage. After two days of walking around and pushing through hoards of people to get to each stage it was nice to stay in one spot. We made it back to the festival in time to catch Fitz & the Tantrums play an energetic, sassy afternoon set which had everyone dancing to their jazz-inspired hits. I was impressed with how great they sounded live and how vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs worked the crowd the entire time.  Bookending their set with their two most popular songs “Don’t Gotta Work it Out” and “Moneygrabber” was a great way to pull the crowd in and leave them wanting more.

A friend once told us that watching The Hives perform is like watching a ringer leader in a circus. This is probably the most accurate comparison one could make after seeing their performance.  Kicking off with percussive “Come On!” the band walked on-stage in their signature black tuxedo tails and top hats. Frontman Pelle Almqvist proved to be entertaining and hilarious asking the crowd between each song if they loved him and if they loved The Hives saying that he loved all of us. At one point during his stage banter he said “Here in America you have a game called Simon says.  Well as far as you’re concerned my name is Simon and you will do exactly as I say” continuing with “Please, please everyone move in, I didn’t come here to play to grass, fill that area in.” While whipping the crowd into a frenzy during their hit “Hate to Say I Told You So” a young guy in front of us, who’d been jumping around and dancing the entire time, looked back at a nearby couple and asked if they had seen The Hives before and if they were always this awesome before running up front to join a mosh pit that had broken out. Closing their set with “Tick Tick Boom” Pelle stopped mid-song and asked everyone to sit down continuing to call-out those who didn’t comply ripping into the VIP section saying, “Everybody in the fucking VIP you’re not that important! Sit down! I see you over there VIP, you’re not that important just because you spent a little more money on your ticket or know someone in middle-level management at Coachella, sit down. I’m talking to you Tom Hanks,” gaining riotous applause from everyone in general admission area. They kicked back into the song with everyone leaping up and jumping to the beat of song while cheering. Their performance was the second highlight of the weekend for me.

Watch The Hives performance of “Tick Tick Boom”:


Awaiting At the Drive-In’s performance, we had the pleasure of experiencing Justice, our first electronic/DJ of the weekend and all of the fans who came along with it. While sitting and waiting for them to start we watched a few young kids taking swigs out of a sunscreen bottle - assuming (hoping) it was filled with vodka and chasing it Vitamin Water. It reminded me of something I would have tried in college. I can’t say I blame them for going to such lengths to sneak in alcohol considering beer was $9 and cocktails were $10+ and you could only drink in designated “Beer Garden” areas. We also overhead a rather interesting exchange between a self-proclaimed medical professional who spent several minutes explaining to her friends why they should quit smoking weed, but then accepted just half a tab of ecstasy rather than the whole; because she felt like she may have had too much already that day. There are no words.

Justice was exactly what I expected- loud, lots of lights and lasers, good beats and lots of jumping, dancing, and fist pumping. They did an interesting mix of D.A.N.C.E and DVNO- playing only portions and mixing in a few other songs. While watching all the people around me go crazy I started to see the merit in some electronic music. Since nothing is really happening on the stage there is no reason to get a good spot and you can act like a loon and no one cares, but after about 15 minutes I was deaf (those DJs can turn up the amps way louder than any rock musician) and exhausted from sensory overload.

The second reason I decided to fly out for Coachella was to watch one of the few reunion shows At The Drive-In was playing. Much like Refused, I became a big fan after they broke-up making this one of the few chances I was going to have to see them perform. The excited buzz in the crowd exploded into impromptu mosh-pits as they kicked off with the opening track from Relationship of Command, "Arcarsenal." Much to my chagrin, the band didn’t live up to what I was sure was going to be my second favorite performance of the weekend. While the music was played with precision and sounded phenomenal, lead guitarist Omar played with zero enthusiasm Cedric’s vocals sounded rough. After an 11 year hiatus of screaming and playing hardcore/punk shows, I’m sure it isn’t easy to readjust. Between songs Cedric was drinking what appeared to be hot tea which would explain his rough vocals. They continued with “Pattern Against User” followed by “Chanbra” off of In Casino Out filling the set with a good mix of songs from their two most popular albums. At one point Cedric dedicated a song to “all of those who came out to the desert and decided to dress like it is Cirque de Soleil.” They predictably closed with “One Armed Scissor,” the only song that had the entire crowd singing along and ending their set on a high note.

The only time I thought I might actually get trampled to death occurred as we were desperately trying to leave the main stage area after At The Drive-In while everyone else in attendance was pushing their way in to secure spots for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Making our way to safety, far in the back with easy access to the exit, we waited. Earlier in weekend we’d heard rumors that Eminem was going to make a surprise appearance with Dre and Snoop which sounded promising. Little did we know how many other famous rappers were going to make appearances that night. The set started with “The Next Episode” to the elation of the white college girls next to us who started bumpin’ and grindin’. “Gin N Juice”, “Nuthin’ but A “G” Thang”, and a cover of the House of Pain hit “Jump Around” filled the first half of the set along with special appearances by newcomers to the rap scene, Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa. I was ecstatic when 50 Cent joined Dre and Snoop on stage performing, what became our college anthem, “In Da Club” as well the hit “P.I.M.P.” Snoop and Dre performed “California Love” before bringing out the next special guest. Since we were so far back there was some confusion as to exactly who was on stage with Snoop for the next two songs. My husband insisted it was a video of Tupac since the voice was undeniably his. I was insistent that it was not a video, there was person walking around on stage. It turns out we were both somewhat correct. Hologram Tupac had made his debut and it was probably the coolest thing I’ve seen at a concert ever. I was awestruck by the ingenuity of it. Managing to top themselves one last time, Eminem came on stage to perform “I Need a Doctor” and then breaking into “Forgot about Dre,” the song we’d been wanting to hear all night. Eminem teased the crowd saying he was out and had a cab waiting, leaving just as quickly as he arrived. Wanting to beat the crowd, we left Coachella while Dre and Snoop were finishing their set, knowing we would probably never again have the opportunity to see so many rap legends - both alive and dead - share the same stage.   

Watch Hologram Tupac’s performance: 


A Weekend at Coachella - Part 1 [Live Review]

Editor's Note: Obviously the people who write in this space love music. Conversely, we have friends that also love music and go to see great shows. Our correspondent Lauren Smalley had another music loving friend who attended the Coachella festival in California a couple of weeks ago. Please welcome Shelia Moore as she checks in with her thoughts of the festival's first weekend.  - Scott

By Shelia Moore

My experience at Coachella 2012 can really be summed up with three words: Refused. Hologram Tupac.  But I’ll get to that a little later.

Walking into Coachella on the first day I was both excited and nervous. While getting through security proved be a trying experience - one in which I was forced to throw out my Excedrin, walk half a mile through the campgrounds only to have to go through another security check - we managed to find our way to main festival grounds. Although it was a little rainy and quite chilly - low 60s during the day - there was no shortage of shirtless bros, girls sporting high-waisted super short shorts (showing under-butt, no less) paired with shirts that appeared to be made from their grandmother’s doilies, and the occasional group of girls who laughed in the face of pneumonia with their bikini-clad bodies leaving little to the imagination. We were officially out of Illinois and in some weird hipster realm where showing as much skin as possible and smoking a joint in front of security was the norm.

Having attended multiple music festivals, my husband and I have become pseudo professionals in navigating the multiple stages, overlapping performances, where to stand for the best view, finding the quickest route to food/drinks/bathrooms, and most importantly, not losing each other in the process. When we first arrived to the festival grounds we checked out the lay of the land and got our bearings. We had one mission for the day: get a good spot for the Refused performance - which wasn’t until 11:20 that night. For the next several hours on that chilly afternoon we meandered around checking out all the stages and catching a few performances.  We quickly learned that the tent covered stages were where almost all of the DJs were performing and to steer clear of the area - unless we wanted to be swept up in an ecstasy fueled dance party accompanied by seizure inducing light displays. Not really our scene.

We caught the end of Yuck’s set- which I rather enjoyed. I was not the biggest fan before the festival but hearing the last few songs “The Base of a Dream is Empty” and “Rubber” I was impressed and made a note to listen to their album when I got home. We walked over to the Main Stage in time to watch the Arctic Monkeys. My husband is a new-found fan after seeing them at Lollapalooza last year and was excited to see them again. Opening with the fast-paced, raucous “Brainstorm” off Favourite Worst Nightmare they immediately got the crowds’ attention. Even though it was obvious not everyone in the crowd was familiar with their songs they still managed to get everyone bobbing their hands and clapping along. Halfway through their set broke into the hit “I bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor” to jubilant cheers. After their 50 minute set the air was still buzzing with excitement from new and old fans.  

Making our way through the crowd we were able to catch most of M. Ward’s set. Who, if you ever have a chance, go see him even if you don’t know his music. He has worked with a slew of respected musicians and was impressive live. After M. Ward we decided to start scoping out a place to stand for Refused. We still had a few hours before they went on but in our experience it is best to claim a spot early for the bands you really want to see. We got to the Outdoor Stage for Mazzy Star’s set- which we found boring and dreadful. It probably didn’t help that we were tired and didn’t know any of their music but I also think it speaks volumes about a band if they can’t win over non-fans during a stage performance. Explosions in the Sky was up next and while I’m not really into strictly instrumental music I was truly impressed and found them engaging.

After hours of waiting, one of the reasons we flew to California was finally happening. The fucking REFUSED. I can’t even begin to explain the anticipation we were feeling as  the intro to “The Shape of Punk to Come” started. The band had it recorded so it was playing in a loop before the members came on-stage. The lead singer, Dennis Lyxzén, came out first and started in with “Hey baby! you never felt this good” after a few seconds the rest of the band ran on stage and started in with the pulse-pounding drum and guitar parts. It was truly amazing to see them play with the precision and energy that many young bands find hard to muster. I could not wipe the smile off my face hearing how good the vocals and music  sounded given that they haven’t played a Refused show in 14 years. The set list was exactly what you would expect - most of the songs were off The Shape of Punk to Come with just a few off Songs To Fan the Flames of Discontent. I would like to say that the crowd went apeshit and people starting moshing, I probably would have joined in, but everyone I could see from where I was standing was surprisingly nonplussed. Maybe everyone was just taking it in. Lyxzén was charismatic telling the crowd how they wanted to start a punk, anti-capitalist revolution when they started back in the 90s. He was sincere and overwhelmed by fans’ support saying that they helped make the reunion possible. At one point an older gentleman - probably in his 50s - walked up to an equally older gentlemen and said “I don’t know these guys, but they are great!” Indeed sir, indeed.