Thursday, August 28th, 2014 – The Music Community Rallies for The Phuss’ Trey Alfaro
After being hit by a car while riding his bike a few weeks prior, several benefit shows for Trey Alfaro had popped up around Dallas, as his extended family in the D/FW music scene came together to help raise money for his medical expenses. In terms of the lineup, the one at Club Dada this night looked to be the overall best in my personal opinion, though; and since I had been unable to make any of the others, I had to be at this one.
Three bands The Phuss is close with were set to play, as was Josh Fleming of The Phuss, doing a more rare acoustic show. Then, just a couple days prior to the gig, it was announced that Trey was wanting to play drums and would be making his return behind the kit at his own benefit show.
Getting the show started was It Hurts to be Dead, who had made the drive from Wichita Falls to be here.
The band was a mix of garage rock and punk, focusing more on the former for much of their set. They powered through their opener, and then Kevin Gilmore struck his drumstick together to count them into their next number. “Club Dada, how’s it going?” the drummer (who also provided some backup vocals) asked once they completed the song.
At just a little after nine, there weren’t too many people there, but those who had showed up early made some noise. The band kept the chatter up, establishing a friendly rapport with everyone, like when asking if everyone was drinking, and then Kevin simply said, “Well, keep it up.” Singer and guitarist Sean Snyder dedicated their next song, “Smoke and Mirrors”, to Trey, who happened to be right up front for all of their set.
“…This song’s about ruined relationships and moving on…” Sean informed everyone before one of their tracks, while the following one dealt with “fucking up and ruining apologies.” Fittingly, it was called “Slurring My Apologies”, and it was with that one that their punk rock side started coming out. The pace picked up substantially from even their previous stuff, with Nick Thornton knocking out some aggressive riffs on the bass.
“That’s the disheveled end to that one,” Kevin remarked, as the song did come to a slightly abrupt end. Sean mentioned they would have a new album out soon, and “Suit Yourself” would be on it. They had one song left after that, something about a switchblade butter knife, which brought their 36-minute long set to a humorous and strong finish.
The band really grew on me as I watched them, especially with those last few songs, the ones that stuck true to the punk rock genre, as that was where It Hurts to be Dead really seemed to excel.
They fit well with the rest of the lineup, having that raw sound the other acts possess. By the time they were done, they had made me a fan; and I’m looking forward to this album they spoke of.
The Virgin Wolves were second up this night; and this was only the third show of the year.
They may not have been too active lately, but they still have the same spring in their step they always have, as was seen when they opened with “Lies”. Lead guitarist Chase Ryan sang the first few lines before ceding control over to frontwoman Jaimeson Toon. They continued to alternate on the verses of that slightly bluesy sounding rock number, showing off their more aggressive side as they hit each chorus.
“Hey guys, were The Virgin Wolves, and we love the shit out of this dude!” Jaimeson exclaimed as she pointed at Trey, who was front and center watching their set. As she finished speaking, Chase and fellow guitarist Carson Coldiron, as well as drummer Steve Phillips and bassist Kristin Leigh started on the rip-roaring intro to “Oh, Sugar”. They were quickly building up to their all-out rock material; and as they got to the final chorus, Chase, Jaimeson and Kristin all huddled up, while Chase flashed a big smile, clearly glad to be sharing a stage with his band mates once again.
“Crawl” had all of their fans singing along; and the backing vocals Chase and Kristin added on the final lines, as they and Jaimeson sang, “…I just love to watch you crawl,” led to a dynamic finish for the fiery number. “We’re all here for one reason: Trey Alfaro,” Chase said afterwards, which got another round of applause going for the drummer. He also added that Mothership was up after them. “The real one,” he joked, saying that according to Spotify, there were two in existence.
“Bad” was another classic that the crowd really got into, banging their heads along to the furious beat; and afterwards Carson launched them into “End Of The Line”, as he began gently plucking at the strings of his guitar. Shortly into the first verse, Jaimeson grabbed the mic cord and wrapped it around a few of her fingers as she continued to prowl around the stage; then lightly hit her head with her fist while singing the second chorus, “‘Cause I don’t want to take my precious time. I don’t want to talk about till the end of the line…”
The audience exploded into cheers as they immediately wound that into their rendition of Danzigs’, “Mother”. They’ve quickly made that a beloved staple of their shows; and it just fits with The Virgin Wolves style perfectly. All five of them really let loose on that number. Kristin and Jaimeson doing some interacting as they stood face to face with each other at the start, getting some good chemistry going; while Carson often pulled back from his mic stand during the short second or so the music trailed off, then sprang back towards it in synch to the next beats. They were even joined by Kyle Juett of Mothership, who helped with some of the backing vocals.
“…Dancing with a dobro…” Jaimeson remarked afterwards, poking fun at Chase, who had been using a dobro all night. “He would be so fucking mad if he saw someone playing his song with a dobro,” Carson added, getting a good laugh from his band mates and the audience.
“I was just informed we have merch for sale,” Jaimeson then pointed out, noting that didn’t always happen, so if anyone wanted anything, they should take advantage of it. Steve then struck his drumsticks together to count them into “Crooked Smile”, which was another high-energy track. While Kristin was rocking out on her bass towards the end, Jaimeson walked up behind her, leaning against her while she sang; and all of them except for Steve helped in singing the final line, “Your soul is just as dirty as the ground beneath your feet.”
Kristin mentioned that thanks in part to everyone here, Trey would soon be getting his smile back; and then they tackled the first single from the Pretty Evil Thing record, “Black Sheep”. That hefty track set the stage perfectly for their closing song, which was, of course, “Virtue And Vice”. “…I rode all night through the mother fucking rain!” Chase shouted at the start of the second verse, while Carson waved both of his middle fingers in the air. They went full throttle on that final song of their 34-minute long set, a set that was arguably the rawest and grittiest one of the night.
Even though The Virgin Wolves don’t play on a regular, consistent bases much anymore, you’d never be able to guess it watching them. The chemistry hasn’t changed or weakened a bit; and each of the five members still possess an overwhelming stage presence that ensures you focus an equal amount of time on all of them.
Luckily, it won’t be several more months before they play again. They have a show on October 2nd at Three Links in Dallas; and if you don’t have their record, as least give the songs a listen in iTUNES.
Following them was one of the busiest bands in North Texas: Mothership.
I hadn’t seen the trio in far too long. It seems that when they have played, I’ve been somewhere else, and then they’ve spent a good chunk of time on the road this year, from a European tour a little while back, to traveling across much of the U.S. on a couple different tours. In fact, just a couple weeks before this, they returned from a short stint in the South, dubbed The Southern Shred Tour.
“Good evening Club Dada,” said singer and bassist Kyle Juett, as he, drummer Judge Smith and guitarist Kelley Juett ripped right into the final track from their debut album, “Lunar Master”. A smaller gathering of fans crowded around the stage as they began, and instantly people started to bang their heads along to the resounding beats; while Kelleys’ solo earned him everyone’s undivided attention.
It provided a stellar start to their 40-minute long set, and they never really let up from there.
“This is what you call a rock ‘n’ roll community…” Kyle said after that tune, elegantly expressing his sincerity for the peoples support this night. “…When a brother falls, you pick him back up…” he stated, adding he was glad so many people didn’t “give a fuck” what night of the week it was, they were just out there to support.
Having gotten that out of the way, he moved on to their next record, which he said was slated for release in November, and now they did something from it. It was heavy, with a very thick sound. Even heavier than much of their other material. “Are you ready to lose your mind?!” Kyle asked at one point, right before the track really intensified. Shortly after, Kelly led everyone in a chant of “Hey!”, and once the crowd had picked up on it, he showed off his skills as he shredded on his axe.
There was a lengthy instrumental outro attached to that one, too, which set up their next track quite well. Kyle got it underway with some pulsating bass notes before the rest of the band came in. It was an instrumental jam, something these guys truly excel at. Kelly downright killed it on his guitar solo, and his prowess on the instrument is remarkable; and Josh Fleming of The Phuss — who had walked up there to watch them — began bowing down to him, worshipping his skills.
“Here comes the fun part of the set…” Kyle informed everyone once they were finished. He said they had woke up this morning and just decided, “Let’s play some old songs”, so that’s they did. “You probably know it better than we do,” he half joked about these songs from their debut album, some of which he pointed out they probably hadn’t played in a year or so.
“Elenin” was one such song. They pulled it off like it was something they still do on a regular basis, though; and upon hitting a brief drum solo that Judge has, Kelly pointed back at him, making sure he was the center of attention. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it, and afterwards, the band had some fun. Some of the staff from Trees had walked in, and in tow was a blow up doll. “Where’s my girlfriend at?!” shouted Kyle, who was now looking for the doll. “Bring her up here,” he said, though she seemed to have some stage fright.
He went back to the music community, saying how proud he was to be in this room, because he knew that if anyone who was there was ever in some kind of accident, everyone else would be out to support a benefit event for them. It’s all about brotherhood, after all. He then shifted to their next song, saying it was about freedom. “…We need that right now… to get through the plague of hatred,” he finished, speaking of global events, as they busted out “Eagle Soars”.
“Are you still out there?!” Kyle asked during the lively jam that is filled with great licks from the guitar and bass. “Thanks, Dallas,” Kyle said once it was done. “I want to thank my wife for coming out, too. Been a long time since I’ve seen you. You got some party tattoos…” he joked, as he now held the blow up doll, who was covered in writing from a sharpie.
Mothership does long songs, probably five minutes bare minimum; and while it didn’t seem like they had been playing too long, their time was nearly up. They had just one more left, and as Kyle put it, it was about a “wild night, getting black out drunk and maybe doing something you wouldn’t do sober”. “Are you fucking ready, Dallas?!” he asked before the explosive “Shanghai Surprise”. It was brimming with more guitar solos and a massive rhythm section, all the while keeping a fun atmosphere, making it a good note to end on.
Mothership quickly ascended the ranks of the D/FW music scene, becoming a favorite of all the harder rock fans; and they mix a certain amount of nostalgia (i.e. 80’s era hard rock) with a modern style, leading to a dynamic sound.
All their time on the road has done wonders for them, too. Off the top of my head, I can’t remember exactly when I saw them last, but they weren’t the same band this night as what I recalled. It was an incredibly tight performance that was constantly highlighting their musicianship, but even cooler than that was the fact that you also got to see their true colors and how genuine they are as people.
After such a hectic touring schedule over the last few months, they’ll be taking some time off, though they do have a show at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill on September 10th opening for The Sword. You can also pick up their debut record in iTUNES; and that November release for their sophomore album isn’t too far off.
Originally, Josh Fleming was just going to be doing an acoustic set to start off the night, though rather last minute, it became a full-fledged The Phuss show.
I know everyone was overjoyed to see Trey Alfaro setting up his drums, grateful for the fact that he actually felt like playing already.
While his band mates finished sound checking, Josh began to play a little song to kill time, until they were given the go ahead.
“Alright, we’re fucking ready to do this. I was supposed to play acoustic…” he mentioned, but you could tell that having Forrest Barton beside him on bass and Trey back on the kit made this night all the sweeter for him.
With the On the Prowl album on the horizon, the band primarily did newer songs, but opened with one of their old staples off their self-titled release, “Something to Die For”. It got the fans going, with nearly everyone who was there shouting along; and in the latter part of it, Josh made his way over to Forrest and stamped his foot to the thunderous beats Trey was delivering. It was readily apparent he was glad to be swinging those drum stick again.
They allowed just a moment for applause, and then Josh rolled them right into the subsequent track of that album, “One for Now Three for Later”. “You make it so hard to love you. That’s not to say I don’t try…” he sang at the start, as the pace of the track quickly escalated. As always, fans knew just what to do on the second verse, shouting “BITCH!” at the top of their lungs during the brief silence that followed the line, “…Just give me my chance to speak.”
“We’re not a dead band…” Josh remarked, as they continued right on to the next song. “We’ll be putting something out, and it’s not going to suck,” he laughed. Indeed, it will not, and the first single off it, “Straight Line Impala”, should alone be definitive proof of that. It’s chocked full of vibrant bass lines and deafening beats, providing a sensory overload in the best way possible. “Thank you, thank you, and thank you,” Josh said in a funny tone of voice, and bowing to everyone each time he expressed his gratitude.
A fuzzy mixture of the guitar and bass led them into “At the Bottom of it All”, a track that boasts a rip-roaring rhythm section. “…Feedback makes me more confident…” Josh joked over the garbled noise at the end. He then asked everyone to give it up for Trey, which was something the people were all too happy to do.
Josh again let his funny side shine after they unleashed another new song. “This is our non shitty stuff. Performed in a non shitty way…” That’s true, too, but it also implies that they have shitty songs, which just isn’t the case. “Hammer and Nail” was another great jam; and upon finishing it, all the other bands who played this thing were thanked, especially The Virgin Wolves, who had apparently put this whole night together, and then played at ten-o’clock. The opener It Hurts to be Dead was mentioned, too, and coincidentally, their next song was titled “It Hurts to be Dead”. “It’s our slow pop punk song. Don’t ruin the moment,” Josh told everyone over the softer intro. It got a little louder as they progressed through it, and it dealt with some heavy subject matter. “It hurts to be dead, worse than being alive…” went one of the lines.
“ We’re trying to be a professional band. The first step is tuning,” laughed Josh as they readied their final song of the night. They went back to their debut EP, Wanted, and pulled out one of the two songs they still routinely do from it. I don’t think it was the one everyone was expecting, though. “Pointed Guns in the House of God” is still a beast of a song, though; and running more than five-minutes, it has a grand sound to it, too. A couple girls made it into a clap along at times, when the beat really allowed for it; and while finishing up the instrumental end, Josh used his hand to hit a few of the cymbals, while Trey just grinned at him.
The show clocked in right at 40-minutes, and before leaving the stage, Josh thanked everyone who came out, as well as for “dealing with us playing.”
This was a very special Phuss show, and you could see and feel that. Each member was glad to be sharing the stage with one another again; and after what happened to Trey, I doubt they will ever take the feeling of performing for granted again.
They’ll be taking a little time off to get ready for an October tour, which will cover Florida, parts of the East Coast and plenty of other states. Full dates on that can be found HERE. As for their new album, you can listen to a couple songs and pre-order it on BANDCAMP. You can also find their old record in iTUNES.
It was great to see so many people come out and support for this. As Kyle Juett said during Mothership’s set, there’s a sense of brotherhood in all of this, and when it’s needed, people will band together for it and anyone involved in this scene. While on the note of camaraderie, you saw something between the bands this night that almost never happens: members from the other bands were helping set up and tear down each bands’ gear. Sure, The Phuss, Mothership and The Virgin Wolves especially are best friends and have done plenty of gigs with one another, but that’s still behavior you almost never see. Out of all the shows I go to, it almost never happens, but it was good to see this night.
After all, this scene is a community, and that fact was proven yet again at Dada this night.