Saturday, September 27, 2008


As most of you know, I really don't listen to a lot of rock music. Just not my thing. Don't really hate it, just don't listen to a lot of it. The Root Down introduced Wolfmother to the world. They broke up after just one record. The void left from the departure of Wolfmother was hard to explain. They had a good march, set the Gypsy on fire in Dallas, hit it big in America and then just snapped over the follow up record. Yeah, can't say that I have a good ear for longevity. Despite that, I'm always up for something new. And, to me, everything's new.

Hailing from Austin and coming with a number of positive recommedations from the area, The Lions pulled into the Yellow Friday to open for Texas institution, the Toadies. I'll be the first to tell anyone, I never really listened to the Toadies. I heard "Possum Kingdom" in college and that's really all I remember. I didn't even know they were a Texas band until a few years back. It didn't occur to me that "Tyler" was a song about the town by the same name. I just never bought the records and was listening to something completely different about ten years ago. As was made fairly apparent to me recently, the Toadies still carry quite a bit of weight. I initially passed on the show, but then after finding out from Leroy last weekend that The Lions were opening, I found a spot on the list. I had to see it.

Yeah, I realize that most people don't go for opening acts. I don't care. Mag Seven was playing as well. And they killed it.

I waited patiently after Mag's set...wandering around and waiting for The Lions to takeover. And then...

When The Lions hit the stage, the place ignites. Now, for a crowd that, for the most part, had never heard their material, the response was immediate and significant. The horns come up and as you scan the heads of the crowd, all moved in unison with an uneasy tension. Some raised their hands above their head and began clapping in time. Lead singer Matt slithers to the microphone and begins wailing in a manic state through the lyrics of "No Generation." My eyes peel back and mouth drops open.

The boyish energy, the jumps, the spitting, the headbangs, the guitar poses--yes, this was what Leroy was speaking of. The grooves were cut from a sturdy teflon, the guitars zipped up in denim and the vocals wrapped in dingy, stinky concert tee from 1972.

Of course, for a pea-minded Yellow crowd, this kinda stuff needs no hard sell. I hear a guy to the left say, "These guys are actually pretty good," with both obvious surprise and delight. Matt's onstage dancing and nervous outbursts captivated the crowd.About four songs into the set, I could the feel the crowd becoming a little tired. I mean, yeah, they're there to see the Toadies. This was especially evident as you left the front fifty feet of the stage area. Angry Tim just gave me a thumb pointed downward with a fart noise, but he's distrustful of anything that comes with an endorsement. Mayhem seemed to just agree with the strong opinions of others. Seems I pumped them up too much to others as I was getting met with more animosity than any sort of constructive criticisms aside from the fairly unanimous "they're trying to be like Rage Against the Machine" comments. And Rage was just trying to be like the MC5 and Public Enemy. Whatever, all artists bite. And, as a fan of Rage, I didn't hear it except a segment in a song where Matt begin speaking loudly about the "American Dream." I guess anyone opens their mouth and starts talking politics, it'll be a race to be the first to mutter "Zack de la Rocha." Probably lucky no one drew Daltrey comparisons because they have a song called "No Generation."

As they neared the second half of their set, it was fairly apparent they were wearing on the crowd. Then, Matt made a joking comment about, "Well, I guess we could always just play __king Toadies songs. Anyone wanna hear 'Tyler'?" Then, all those they had befriended in the first half, seemed to turn on them. After songs, the applause was dimmed and boos began to surface louder and louder. How quickly they switch on you when you make a light comment on the headliner. Who cares, they rocked.

I think somewhere, The Lions rocked the show off course. I heard two seperate instances where someone had to tell someone, "It's not that kinda show, dude/bro." It's like The Lions got everyone fired up and ready to fight and then Toadies fans had to remind them, "Hey, this is a lovefest. No fighting." I found that really peculiar that people came out of their mind and had to be reminded, "Dude, it ain't that kinda show." I guess The Lions tend to split crowds in two and turn them on each other. Now that's a show.

The Toadies played to club that absolutely adored them. I sang what lyrics I knew. After the show, I passed by the merch table where I purchased a shirt and showed my gratitude to the band in which the drummer cooly said, "Much obliged, man. Much obliged."

Next week, another head-slaying Austin monster comes to town in a supporting role: The Sword...who will be opening for Clutch. I guess, once again, I'll be the prick that cheers for the opening band and then everyone will tell me they sound too much like Black Sabbath. Eh, you can't win when you have little understanding of the music. Can't hate me for being adventurous. The Sword kill.They're absolute monsters of rock. I've taken them on the mountain with me and I can attest to their rock greatness. Nothing like flying down a steep face with "Winter Wolves" exploding your ear drums into dust.

Dale, L'roy and Sarah, thanks for the strong recommendation on The Lions. They did you proud up here in the Yellow. Fun time.

I'm renaming Tucker and Jackson. They'll be Bingo and Buster respectively. No elaboration coming later. That's all you need to know.


sarahsmile3 said...

So glad you enjoyed the show! You will have to see them in Austin sometime when they are not the opeing band (maybe during SXSW). I have never met anybody who didn't thoroughly enjoy a Lions show, though I am not surprised there were a few who didn't in Amarillo. Lee was so happy to see them in Lubbock...I thought he was going to have a stroke from the anticipation. Oh, and your Lions shirt is better than mine....but I have their vinyl. Miss you!

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal.. No one really cares about the opening band, so you have to fight for everything you get. Usually our shows are chaotic and out of that ensues an unpredictable feeling that either goes one way or the other.. No one can be held accountable for someone's bad tastes. And as I remember, that show had one of the most tasteless bands opening up (kinda nu metal / dressed in black / ruining the soul of rocknroll kinda things / nickelback) and they kept thanking the big crowd that was practically singing back all of their lyrics.. wow, twilight zone man. the "I'd like to thank Rock 108 for blah blah" was out of fuckin' control and needed to be stopped! Come on! Dumbing down America in the best way. The guys were nice, but I can't get behind shit like that. I don't rap, so the Rage thing is above my head. Does that guy sing?

Opening up a tour where everyone is there to see the headliner is tougher than most imagine. But in the end, everyone remembers something.. love or hate.. polarizing.. what are we the hillary clinton of rock musicians?!

Chaos is beautiful and people should start feeling something, somewhere.. Don't just like rocknroll.. shoot it.