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Concert Review: BRMC at The House of Blues Dallas, April 27, 2013

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If you missed out on this show, be sad.

Not as sad as if you missed out on their show at Trees almost 3 years ago, when they gave a seriously unbeatable performance, but be sad.

It is my personal, factual, undisputed, universally-accepted-as-truth belief that BRMC is incapable of giving a bad performance. The night of April 27th was no exception.

I arrived at the House of Blues with my just-as-height-challenged-as-me-if-not-more-so friend at about 7:20 since we got seriously lost trying to find the venue (why must Dallas have so many one way roads?). When the doors opened I obnoxiously ran to the front of the line and got in, because dammit, I’m 5 feet tall and I was not gonna stand behind ANYBODY. Last time I was at the HoB to see BRMC, I got stuck standing behind Sasquatch, some big hairy dude who was like 6’3” and was wide enough to pose some serious vision problems for me. BRMC is amazing live and after being right up against the stage at their 2010 Trees concert, I was not about to settle for another Sasquatch experience. So I ran, got yelled at to slow down, slowed down for 0.02 seconds, then ran again.

Success! My friend and I were both front and center, or rather, front and stage right. Robert Levon Been tends to stand on the left side of the stage, so we made sure that’s where we were, right in front of him. Unfortunately that put us right next to this tall douchebag security guard who all throughout the show kept checking the divider between stage and audience, making sure it was locked together. He checked the one in front of us about a billion more times than necessary, and I’m fairly certain he did it just to be a dick since he checked that particular lock more than all the others combined and because I scowled at him after he told me my arms were flabby before the show (uh, sorry, but I don’t take well to people randomly insulting me, especially when I made no attempt to talk to them in the first place, and seriously, Asshole Security Guard, WTF?).

But let’s get to the music part, yes?

First up was Plowboy, a band made up of BRMC fans who somehow managed to meet Robert and he told them they could open the show. How nice is that? The part that was really great was that they were actually good. Last time I saw BRMC at the HoB, the first opener was some shitty roadie band with like 6 members, four of whom played guitar (why? No, really, why?) and all of whom had super long hair that they desperately tried to flip around, perhaps in an attempt to distract the audience from their terrible music. Thankfully, Plowboy was nothing like them.

When Plowboy first took the stage, they sort of looked like a mini band, not in terms of the size of the band, but in the size of the band members. I assumed they were just underdeveloped or shrimpy 18- or 19-year-olds. Their performance was a little amateur, not in a bad way, you could just tell they didn’t have that much experience under their belts. Their musical style was heavily BRMC-influenced but also sort of 90s. And they physically looked 90s. They looked like rock ‘n roll Hanson.

After the show, I saw their guitarist and asked him how old he was. He said all the band members were 15. 15! No wonder they looked tiny and sounded relatively inexperienced. They’re prepubescent! Well, sort of.

It’s important to note that their lead singer sounds like a fully grown man, not like Taylor Hanson circa 1997. I strongly encourage you to check them out. They’re legitimately good already, but they’re only 15. Just think about how good they’ll be years from now. They’ll be selling out the House of Blues as the headliner.

It’s also important to note that my friend and I both did not drink anything from about 6:45 to the end of the show. We knew if we did, we’d have to pee and our front-line spots would vanish into thin other people. You might say, “So what?” but bear in mind, I am a drinkaholic. Water, soda, alcohol, I need to be drinking something, like all the time. So after Plowboy’s set, dehydration was starting to kick in.

About the time my tongue took on a chalky texture, Bass Drum of Death took the stage and performed excellently. I won’t say they killed it, but they gave a great set. I was surprised not to hear “Heart Attack Kid,” but they played “GB City” and “Velvet Itch,” so I was happy. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they can best be described as a cross between Ty Segall, BRMC and any band from Seattle. I was really happy they were the second opener.

After they left my ears feeling like cotton, my whole mouth felt like cotton, too. Water! my brain screamed. I felt like Katniss Everdeen before she finds the pond. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I was totally thirsty. At least I didn’t have to pee, though, so I could see…

BRMC! Fuck, they were good. Been’s bass was too loud though. The levels were off, and it was distracting and kind of buried the vocals, but they played well regardless. I was unsure of how they’d play Firewalker, my current favorite track off Specter at the Feast, but they pulled it off. Before they came on stage my friend and I were discussing what song they’d play first, and I called it! (Although it was a pretty obvious choice.) It was “Let the Day Begin.”

Been was as great as he always is on stage, interacting with the audience and giving a sick performance, but I was more impressed with Peter Hayes at this particular show. At concerts past, Peter was more subdued and sort of seemed like he didn’t want to be there, but at the HoB this time, he was killer. He complemented his excellent vocal range with an attitude that seemed excited. I don’t know the man, but he seems to be more quiet and less animated than his counterpart. In his own, subtler way, he seemed happy he was on stage performing for the Dallas crowd, and that made me really happy.

He and Robert switched their sides of the stage for a song like they always do, which I think the fans always appreciate. I forgot about my dehydration, especially during the band’s signature acoustic session, when Been and Hayes each take the stage alone for at least one acoustic song. Been played “You Run” beautifully and Hayes resurrected one of my favorite BRMC songs, “Devil’s Waitin”, which is also one of the songs that first got me interested in the band way back when. Hayes was truly captivating.

IMG_8250The man has the voice of a chainsmoking angel.

BRMC played some tunes I didn’t expect to hear like “Windows” (which is amazing live) and “In Like the Rose,” as well as several songs off their new album. The one song I was surprised I didn’t hear was “Teenage Disease.”

Sometime after the acoustic session, Douchebag Security Guard disappeared and a portly, bearded ginger security guard came and stood right in front of me, right in front of Been. Not only was it distracting, but it was rude, and I was like, hello, why the hell are you standing right in front of me? It’s all about me, you know. (That was a joke, don’t hurt me… please?) His head blocked Been’s feet, so not cool.

But then, Been perched on the edge of the stage like an adorable bird and poked the security guard in the head with the head of his bass. He was like a fairy godmother because shortly after that the security guard took his rightful place at the side of the stage, not right the fuck in front of one of the band members. I think he just did it to be funny (which it was), but I like to think he did it to get the guy to move because he was bothering the fans. It really was distracting and I couldn’t have been the only one bothered by Portly Ginger’s presence.

On a separate but related note, what the FUCK, Dallas House of Blues? Why does your security staff suck so much? You don’t handle problems when they arise, you just fuck over the fans. What’s your problem?

Ok, that little rant is over.

Leah Shapiro gave a great performance all night. The woman is a beast on the drums. There’s not much to say about her because she was right on the money the whole time.

After the last song, Been laid down his bass and messed with a dial on his amp, creating some grisly, shrieking feedback. It was obvious he was going to make it stop once BRMC came back out for the encore, but holy balls was it horrible. I love the way BRMC uses atmospheric tones but Christ. It was one of the few times I’ve ever had to plug my ears at a concert. I wonder if he did it to shorten the length of time between the regular set and the encore, or to be “rock ‘n roll,” or to make people more excited to have BRMC take the stage again so they’d make the deadly frequency stop, or just to see if someone would pass out from it. Hell, maybe he just liked the way it sounded. Regardless, Robert Been, that was the one thing you’ve ever done live to make me hate you, just a little bit.

BRMC came back on stage for their 2-song encore (thank the Lord) and ended with a slow song like they like to do in Dallas.

It was a great show.

The merch line was super long, and my friend and I chugged a ton of water and went out to the tour bus to be annoying fangirls and beg for autographs and pictures (what’s the fun of a concert if you can’t harass the talent?). On our way a bouncer for an after party being held in the upstairs of the HoB told us and 40 other girls we could go in for free, and hinted that BRMC might show up, so we went inside. It was weird. Not sexy weird or cool weird—weird weird, like, an old man was twirling around a wooden pole. It was definitely not the scene rock stars would hit after a show, so we got the hell out of there.

We found the tour bus but BRMC took forever to come out (apparently they like to eat pizza after their shows, one girl said, and lo and behold, some of their staff came out with pizza slices in their hands).  We waited as the herd of fans got thinner and thinner until we decided to go wait in the car, or maybe just leave. We’d waited so long we’d surpassed superfandom and entered the realm of creepy stalkerfans, which wasn’t really the vibe I wanted to give off. I think BRMC left about 2-3 hours after the show. I know this because some drunk d-bag rear ended my car and I was stuck outside the HoB (but far away enough from it to where I couldn’t interact with the band, the worst of both worlds) dealing with the aftermath, and the tour bus was still there during most of the “Give me your policy number” bullshit, but once I finally finished dealing with that, it was gone.

So despite a douchey security guard, a ginger security guard, thirst and some random, not-even-a-BRMC-fan rear-ending me and causing me to miss getting autographs, it was an awesome night.

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