Returning to Dallas for the first time in three years, hometown heroes the Toadies rocked the Bomb Factory last night. With Pleasure Club and Helmet in tow, it was a fantastic evening of music. It was a great turn-out, too. Fans young and old were in attendance. More than a few fans brought their children along to experience the band for the first time.

Playing Dallas for the first time in 14 years, Pleasure Club warmed things up with an absolutely stellar set. Recently reunited with a couple of New Orleans and Atlanta shows under their belt, the band sounded like they’ve been playing consistently since their last show more than a decade ago. Vocalist James Hall owned the stage as he strutted around, imploring the audience to sing-along and get their asses moving. The audience, who was still arriving during their set, went from lingering around the bars to gradually moving closer to the stage as the bands set progressed. When guitarist Marc Emert-Hutner wasn’t holding down the rhythm, he coaxed some great noises from his instrument as bassist Grant Curry and drummer Michael Jerome anchored the songs. There were a few folks at the bar after their set who were either sharing stories of seeing them back in the day, or asking “Who the hell were those guys?!?”

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New York City’s alt-metal rockers Helmet followed with a well received set of their own. The Bomb Factory had filled up nicely at this point and there seemed to be quite a few fans who came to see them as much as they were there for the Toadies. Playing tracks from their classic albums Meantime and Betty, as well as few selections across the rest of their discography, the band sounded tight; however, whether it was the live mix, or age, band leader Paige Hamilton’s voice was a little buried among the huge guitar riffs and pummeling drums. There weren’t any standout moments in the bands set. They didn’t phone-in their performance, per se. But, they didn’t set the stage on fire either. Nevertheless, after each of the well-known songs were played, the audience responded with enthusiastic cheers.

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Around 10:20pm, the Toadies took the stage. At this point, the venue was packed from the floor to the balcony. When the opening riff to “Quitter” kicked in, the crowd roared. Playing tracks across their five main albums, the band was flawless. Vocalist/guitarist Vaden Todd Lewis’ voice was strong and full, guitarist Clark Vogeler’s leads were razor-sharp, and bassist Doni Blair and drummer Mark Reznicek were spot-on, as usual.

To be expected, the material from their debut album Rubberneck got the biggest charge from the crowd. In fact, they sang along word-for-word to every track. Hell, they practically sang “I Come from the Water” by themselves as Lewis stepped back from the mic and let them take over. Obviously, “Away,” “Possum Kingdom,” and “Tyler” were huge crowd pleasers. A little mosh pit opened up during “PK,” and there were three or four crowd surfers spotted as well. All that said, material from last years exceptional album, The Lower Side of Uptown, was also warmly greeted by the audience. Songs like “When I Die” and the roaring “Polly Jean” were incendiary. “Song I Hate,” from 2008’s No Deliverance was simply beautiful; both a testament to the musicians and the exceptional live sound at the Bomb Factory. Every note was crystal clear and Lewis’ voice soared. Doubtless, it was one of the many highlights of the evening.

After their main set, the band returned for a four-song encore that included “Pressed Against the Sky,” Uptown’s “Broke Down Stupid,” their cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkin’s “I Put a Spell on You,” and Rubberneck album closer “I Burn.” Twenty-four songs later, the crowd was still hoping they would return for a few more as they stood around impatiently. It was that kind of night. The Toadies always give an exceptional performance, but last night was one everyone is going to remember. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another three years for them to return.

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– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Brently Kirksey (photos).

1 Comment

  1. I don’t ever do this type of thing, but couldn’t pass this story up.

    I would probably guess this was the first time this writer has seen these bands live! If the writer knew anything about these bands they would know that Helmet’s sound has always been about driving guitars, bass, and drums. With Paige laying down some subtle, level lyrics. They have never been an out front vocals band. Instead, a level vocal band.

    As far the Toadies went. There were multiple times when vaden made obvious mistakes musically. To the point where he had physical reactions to the mistakes. Either way, they were very solid. Out of the many times I have seen them this was my least impressed. Not a bash, just the truth. They were good, but not at their peak.

    All in all, it was a good night. Well worth the trip and price. My main disappointment was that Helmet didn’t have a longer set. They had much more energy and they had a better overall mix. The drums for the Toadies sounded very thin and shallow compared to Helmet.

    Like

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