Guest Concert Review

On January 27, 2010, in Concert Reviews, by admin

Since I get a little lazy at times….I need to scour for additional content. This comes from my concert buddy who went to see some obscure group at Trees in Dallas, Texas.  I post this here as I was trying to see Hinder at the same facility. It is a smaller venue that closed for quite awhile, and now reopened in an ever competitive venue scene in Dallas.  Robert always writes top notched reviews, worthy of these pages….so here you go

I made my first visit to the new and improved Trees club in Deep Ellum on January 22, 2010. For those unfamiliar with Dallas, Deep Ellum is sort of an alternative arts and entertainment district next to downtown. It features restaurants, bars and tattoo parlors, and was a popular place for quite a while. In recent years, though, many urban-oriented clubs and lot of crime moved into the area, killing off most of the rock clubs. Trees was a legendary venue that closed, but which has now reopened as some folks are trying revive Deep Ellum.

The new owners invested a lot of money into Trees, cleaning and shining it up. It is definitely not just brick walls and a run-down stage any more. New tables and chairs are at the rear, and the walls feature flat-screen TVs. Good job, Trees people.

I arrived a half hour or so after the doors opened, so that I was able to snag a table and watch as the fans arrived. I was genuinely surprised by the crowd. At least half were “old” (meaning 35 and up) and of those, quite a few were yuppie types. I even saw some folks in sweaters and polo shirts, which was just wrong. I guess that this development can be attributed to the fancy-pants apartments and condos that have been built next door to Deep Ellum in recent years. The dwellers must wander over to the bars to check out whoever happens to be playing.

Fortunately, a good number of the fans were tattooed, pierced, mohawked and otherwise sported the proper look. Quoting Les Nessman, the crowd was curious but well-behaved. The mosh pit cranked up fairly early in the evening, building momentum with each band. By the time Agnostic Front was on stage, the pit was frenzied for about half the songs. I observed only one fight, and the drunken problem child was quickly booted and peace restored.

The show began at 8:00 p.m., with local trio Preacher. They described themselves as “ghetto thrash” . . . . I do not know what that means. They were sloppy and the songs very amateurish, and they seemed happy just to have a gig. The lead singer/guitarist could do a serious speed metal solo, though. If they could work on the rest of the songwriting and get in a lot of practice, these guys have something.

Next up was another local outfit, Dog Company. Aside from Agnostic Front, these boys were the highlight of the night. It was a five-man act that featured a sound somewhat similar to the Dropkick Murphys in terms of the vocals and singalong backup vocals. The two guitarists played badass hollowbody guitars, which I just love. I will have to try to go see them again at some point.

The Broadsiders were next. Yep, another Dallas band. They had more of an oi! look to them, with two of the guys sporting buzzcuts and the dress-shirts and short pants. They were kind of skinheads-lite. The bass player, on the other hand, wore a fedora and beatnik clothes, while the drummer looked like a chubby Dave Grohl. Yeah, they were an eclectic bunch. They were probably suburban kids, though, as they did not look to be from a lower socioeconomic stratum. I really enjoyed their straight-ahead punk. Who knew that Dallas had so many good punk bands?

From sunny California, the Hellions were band number four. They had more of a rockabilly punk vibe, but did not do anything to really distinguish themselves from the other acts.

As the fans were growing a little restless waiting for the headliner, Death by Stereo took the stage. DBS is more of a hardcore punk band than the acts that preceded it, so they were a better fit to open for Agnostic Front. I could tell that they have played together for a long time, as they were very polished . . . in a punk band kind of way.

Once Agnostic Front finally began playing, the crowd up front went nuts. Unlike some outfits that discourage moshing in this day and age (as was the case with one of the opening acts), AF not only puts up with it, they frequently encourage it. Not surprisingly, the fans obliged.

Throughout AF’s set, fans would jump onto the stage (there was no security aside from the bar’s bouncers), run around for a little while and then stage dive. From my vantage point in the balcony, I could see that on a few occasions, the crowd was too busy to catch the stage diver, who went straight to the floor. Ouch. One drunk girl got on the stage at least ten times, each time staying up there a little longer. I thought that the band might get tired of her at some point, but they put up with her.

AF’s lead singer, Roger Miret, was so clearly a punk veteran and all that punk entails. Many of the fans who charged onto the stage ran up to him, stuck their face in his microphone to scream a lyric or two, or would grab/hug/push him. He took each assault in stride, never pushing away the fan or acting in any way belligerent. He just kept going.

I quickly lost count of how many songs AF played, as so many of their songs clock in at only a minute or so. Miret addressed the crowd several teams, but did not provide any stories. One of the guitarists threw an anti-Dallas Cowboys jab at one point, but the fans barely seemed to notice. They must not be big football fans.

AF is hardcore hardcore hardcore. Their songs are fast screamfests that are intended to incite a violent reaction. As much as I like them, I have to confess that I prefer Miret’s other band, Roger Miret & the Disasters, which is still punk to the bone, while having more of a melodic/catchy side to it.

I will be looking forward to going to a more shows at Trees, as it is a quality venue. Oh, and just in case you are wondering, I made it back to my truck safely after the show. There were a few scary sorts lurking around, but I scooted along quickly and covered the two blocks to my vehicle quickly and without incident.

THANKS ROBERT.  EXCELLENT AS USUAL. Publishers Note: Robert mentioned the changed in the Deep Ellum environment.  Not only was rock killed off there, many funky restaurants closed as well.  Today, the area looks to be 50% empty…the rumour is that it is on the mend, as seen by investments described above.  We will see.  again, there is a lot of competition for venues in Dallas, but there may be an opening for the smaller club scene, as most venues in Dallas holds 1500 and above booking national acts…

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