Chevelle Concert Review By Gracie

I took Gracie to see Chevelle at Iron City Birmingham on May 4th, 2015.  I’ve been to Iron City many times but this was Gracie’s first time.  She loves Chevelle, which isn’t a surprise since I love them and I have excellent taste in music.  E was out of town on a business trip so just we girls went.  I’ll let Gracie review the concert in her own words and then I’ll add my 2 cents.

“The Chevelle concert was my first floor concert and I am grateful that I was able to see them.  This was also the first time I’ve been to Iron City.  

First off, the opening band, The Marmozets, were great.  The songs were good and I enjoyed them.  They were interactive with the crowd and had fun with it.  We ended up buying their CD.

Finally, Chevelle was ready and began with a great opening. Chevelle was certainly my favorite.  The whole band had fun with everyone, telling favorite memories, and pointing out the great people who helped with the concert.  They invited everyone to sing our lungs out and clearly everyone had a great time.  Pete (the lead singer) played new and old (songs), which kept us on our toes.  What would they sing next?!  They sang some of their best songs, my favorites, too!  I hated to see them leave.

Although we didn’t stay for the whole act of The Used, we heard one song.  I have only heard a few songs by The Used and I’m now finding new ones I like every day.

So in conclusion, I liked this concert and I’ll never forget it!”

It was a sold out show, which means that Iron City had about 1300 people inside it that night.  I was nervous about having Gracie on the floor with me but she did great.  She does have a “personal space” thing, though.  She didn’t like touching anyone besides me but I finally got it through to her that it just happens when you’re on the floor of a sold out concert.

Chevelle is a great live band.  I mean, anyone can sound good with mixing and all that shit they do in the studio, but I think a true sign of talent is when you sound just as good live.  I didn’t think Pete Loeffler could pull off the same vocals live as I hear repeatedly on any given album of theirs but he did.  He nailed the controlled, brooding rage that builds and explodes in the end to full-on rage, every single time.  Pete and Dean Bernadini’s guitar playing were exactly like the album recordings.  The sound I fell in love with listening to all their albums is exactly what I heard that night.  It’s rare that that happens nowadays.  I love them even more now.

Onto the girlier shit of my review, I get really pissed off when a band doesn’t even talk to the crowd or acknowledge where they are.  I’ve vowed never to see Seether live again for this very reason.  Pete knew where the hell he was that night, called us by name (Birmingham), talked to us throughout the set and seemed legitimately happy to be there.  That means a lot to me, as a fan and a concert goer who paid money to see them live.  I would most definitely pay to see them again the future.

Gracie and I were on the floor, to the right side of the stage.  Both of us have a pretty big crush on Pete so when Chevelle came on stage, we were highly disappointed that Pete was on the LEFT side of the stage.  No offense, Dean.  Please forgive us.  So, if you’re a huge Pete fan, go to the left side of the stage when you see them.  Not stage left, the left to you when you’re looking at the stage, just to be clear.

We did not stay for The Used because it was past 11:00 when they came onstage and it was a school night.  I know, I’m such a downer.  I would have really liked to stay for The Used encore, which was a trilogy of Rage Against The Machine songs but it would have been well after midnight before it was over.

Gracie and I each bought a Chevelle tee and the Marmozets CD.  The Marmozets, by the way, were pretty delightful.  The lead singer is just a doll and she was so thankful to the warm crowd for their “friendliness”.  Their songs were good, the lead singer could really belt out a good screamy hard rocking song and the crowd really enjoyed them.  You can tell when a crowd just wants the opening act to get the hell off the stage but we were pretty into The Marmozets.  They’re worth checking out if they come to your town.

Here are some great pictures from the night, taken by a local photographer.

Here are a couple pictures from my phone.  This is all I have since I accidentally deleted all of them.  Yes, I’m that stupid, apparently.

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Here is a video of the live performance of “Take Out The Gunman” from Chevelle’s latest album “La Gárgola”.  It’s my favorite song off the album.  This is the best video from that night that I could find but hopefully this will give you an idea of their live performance.

And here is the actual official video for “The Red”.  Fifteen years ago, this would’ve been the song you raised your lighter to when you saw them live.  Now everyone just sings really loudly and badly and raises their cell phones in the air to take shitty videos.  That’s why I didn’t post a video from the actual concert.  They all sucked.  It’s an anthem for anyone with rage issues.  Don’t we all have them from time to time?  This is also a great workout song, by the way.

I hope you all enjoyed my daughter’s first rock concert review.  She is 13 years old, so I’m pretty picky about what she can see with me right now, but I anticipate lots of concerts together in the future.

Concert Review: St. Paul & The Broken Bones

I have resided in Birmingham, Alabama for the last six years yet I first heard of a local Birmingham band named St. Paul & The Broken Bones from a friend who lives in New Jersey.  True story.

My friend posted this video and I instantly fell in love with the lead singer, Paul Janeway, who looks as unassuming as a Macy’s shoe clerk but has the soul of Otis Redding when he opens his mouth to sing.


I eagerly waited for their first full length album to be released and I was not disappointed in “Half The City”.  In the meantime, the band was building up quite a following, appearing on every late night talk show around, and stunning people with their sound, which is really nothing new but very refreshing in this age of computer generated music and generic, recycled lyrics.

I got to experience this band’s vintage yet new sound and feel on November 13th when I had the privilege of seeing St. Paul & The Broken Bones play a sold out show at the historic Alabama Theatre.  I had bought tickets in a brutal online battle, which led the band to announce a second show on November 14 and it quickly sold out also.  Birmingham was very excited to have the hometown band back, it seemed.

E and I arrived at the show early and were very surprised by the crowd in attendance.  It was a much older crowd, for the most part, than we are used to at concerts.  We could have easily been going to see a Statler Brothers concert on a Sunday afternoon, judging by the crowd.

We were seated in the upper balcony, which didn’t afford a great view but again, I was just happy to have tickets.  I settled in with a beer and we waited.

Suddenly, an ordinary looking young man wearing jeans and a red hoodie with “Roll Tide” scrawled across the front appeared at the microphone.  No one recognized him.  He then said “Hi, I’m Paul of The Broken Bones” and then everyone came alive.  Paul, by the way, was named after Paul “Bear” Bryant, the greatest coach (so far) in Alabama football history.  Also, I would be completely remiss here if I didn’t type in all caps “ROLL TIDE”.

Paul introduced a friend of his who would open up the show.  To be honest, I can’t even remember the guy’s name but he was from Oklahoma and really good.  It was just him, his guitar and an attached harmonica.  He was personable and funny with his short stories in between songs and didn’t overstay his welcome.

But the crowd was ready to see their hometown boys.  Paul got emotional a couple of times, telling the crowd his grandmother was in the audience, seeing the band live for the first time.  He also said he had seen B.B. King and Tom Waits play in the same theatre, had watched Christmas movies there also (we’re taking our kids to a Christmas movie marathon there in just a couple weeks) and now he and his band were playing two sold out shows in his hometown theatre.  It was truly moving to see him living his dream on stage.

The band performed the entire “Half The City” album plus a few covers, including David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream and Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees.  The covers were distinctly St. Paul and if you didn’t know the lyrics, you probably would never have known they weren’t their own songs.

My favorite cover of the night was their closing song.  It is also my favorite Otis Redding song. Here is a video of that exact performance:


Would I shell out more of my own bucks to see this band live again?  Absolutely.  Hopefully, the next album will be out before we know it and they’ll come on back home to perform again.

Here’s their album “Half The City” on Spotify, for your listening pleasure.

Toadies: The Rubberneck 20th Anniversary Tour

Most of you know I’m a native Texan. I come from north central Texas, born and raised. No matter what genre of music you listened to, if you lived in North Texas two decades ago, you had at least heard of the Toadies, if only to wonder why the hell the group of strange looking, screamy young people from the big city of Fort Worth (NOT wearing Wrangler jeans or Roper boots, dafuq!) would make beloved Possum Kingdom Lake seem so fucking weird in that damned video of theirs. Where the hell is Garth Brooks when you need him?!

If you were like I was, you thought there was something special about the Toadies “weirdness”. You enjoyed seeing an ordinary area lake you’d visited in your own childhood made mysterious and dangerous in a video which aired almost incessantly on MTV at the time. Yeah, kids, MTV actually used to play vidoes but that’s a whole other blog post.

For those of you needing a refresher on Toadies history, here’s a great video on it. It is 23 minutes long but if you care anything about the Toadies or were raised in north Texas, you’ll appreciate it.

After listening to these songs hundreds of times over the last 20 years, I have formed my own take on them, my own background stories that spring to mind when I hear each song, which is what Vaden Todd Lewis states he wanted fans to do in the video below.  Even with those deeply embedded personal visions, I tremendously enjoyed hearing the origins of all the songs from Lewis’ perspective.  In my opinion, his original intent only adds to my own take on each song.

If you made it to the other side with me, I don’t need to recap Toadies history now.  Fast forward two decades as I read my Twitter feed.  One of the local concert venues announced that the Toadies were coming to Birmingham to play Rubberneck in its original entirety to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album’s release.  I could not buy tickets fast enough.

I kept in touch with the four albums and the handful of live albums that came after Rubberneck but like most things that change your world, you never forget that first one.  I’m talking strictly music here because music means more to me than any former boyfriend does or ever could.  Rubberneck stuck with me through the decades, through a few entire seasons of life. You can’t say that about many albums, at least I can’t.  Either you outgrow those bands/albums or they just don’t apply to your life anymore and you drift away.

In my case, I grew into Rubberneck.  It got better over time for me.  Maybe it’s nostalgia or maybe I’m guilty of glorifying a “local” band too much, much in the same way native New Jerseyians do with Springsteen but I don’t think so.  I think that novelty wears off eventually if a band doesn’t “fit” you, local or not.  Yes, I feel a connection to the Toadies due to our Texas roots but if I feel it’s bad music or isn’t my thing, the band’s geographical connection doesn’t sway me or hold me for two days, much less two decades.

Despite the fact that I never could relate to Springsteen and honestly think he’s way overrated, I understand the tremendous influence he and his music had and still has on New Jerseyians.  The Toadies are to me what Springsteen is to a lot of New Jerseyians but minus the bandanas and working man songs that sound exactly the same.  Don’t send me hate messages and flaming bags of your own shit, Jersey.  It’s cool.  You do you, I’ll do me, baby.  It’s just my opinion.  Come back later if you need to but put the knife down, Jersey.

I keep a close eye on the local concert schedule and unlike the other ones I’m attending the rest of this year, the Toadies concert never did sell out, which baffles me.  After attending the Rob Zombie concert a couple months ago in the same jam packed, sold out venue, I realize in hindsight that this less than sold out show was the absolutely best way to hear and truly enjoy one of my favorite albums of all time played live.

Black Pistol Fire opened for the Toadies and although they were good, I don’t want this recap to get bogged down by them.  Sorry, Black Pistol Fire.  Put the knife down.

E and I got to the front row, stage left and settled in after my traditional three pre-concert beers and enduring the ritual of a random stranger asking to touch my hair.  I shit you not.  Happens every damned time.  Yes, I let them touch my hair.  It’s just easier that way.

As was expected, the Toadies came out and played Rubberneck but  I always look up the setlist before I attend a concert and save it to my Spotify account so I know what’s coming.  I like spoilers, what can I say?  One of the encores was supposed to be Dollskin, which I was majorly looking forward to, but someone from the audience had yelled “Sweetness” earlier in the evening and they honored that request and did not sing Dollskin.  I’ll live.

They sounded great and just delivered the album and fucking rocked.  They sang two covers, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and “Stop It” by Pylon.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the Pylon cover.  I was looking forward to the Blondie cover but it was the Pylon cover I jumped and screamed along with.  I absolutely loved it.  The video I linked is the best quality I could find but I don’t think this particular crowd really understood what Todd was trying to do.  At the concert I attended, it went over really well and we were subdued on the quiet parts, when Todd is shaking his head no and wagging his finger at us to “no rock and roll now”.  Then when it got loud and he told us to “now rock and roll now” the place went crazy.  I wish I could have captured it on video.

The highlight of the show, however, came with “I Burn”, when two additional drums and drummers were brought out.  I started to video but realized I wanted to be fully present and not wasting the highlight of the concert on what would be a shitty video anyway.  I did manage to find a YouTube video of another performance.  There is another drum and a couple more drummers but the effect is the same.  It blew me away.

Before I knew it, the concert was over with Todd announcing that the band would be at the merch table. I had to go to the bathroom (remember the traditional three beers?) so I missed the band coming out from backstage but E got to shake hands with them. I will add this event to the list of ways that E has stolen a fan girl moment from me but I’m not bitter or anything.

Here are a few pictures from this awesome night.

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After the bathroom, I promptly hauled ass to Todd’s line and E went to buy a tee shirt for me.  I chose the one with Texas on it because I like simple but also because this band means “Texas” to me just as much as Pat Green does.  The end result was this:

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I know!  Fucking awesome, right?  This is the first tee or ticket I’ve ever had signed by a band or artist.  And like I said, you never forget your first.

I meant to ask Todd if he was a preacher’s son because so many of his songs have religious references.  Backslider describes an exact scene from my formative years.  In my nervousness, I forgot to ask him but the 23 minute video answered my question.

Thank you to the Toadies for stopping by Birmingham, to a less than sold out show, when you sell out every Texas venue you play.  Thank you for taking the time to sign everything thrown at you by eager fans.  Thank you for not kicking my ass off your raised platform when I climbed up to get a picture with Todd and Clark.  Thank you to E for buying me the tee shirt, remembering to get the ticket out so the band could sign it and for running back into the venue after we realized in the car that I forgot to have Rez sign the ticket.  This is one I won’t forget.