Saturday, Feb. 15th, found my lovely wife Angela and I in the mostly wonderful city of Dallas, TX. Being an Oklahoman I have my issues with the state of Texas, but Dallas has a weird allure to Oklahomans. We love to go to Dallas to shop, eat, vacation, Dallas Cowboy games, OU/TX weekend, etc. We hate Texas, but love Dallas. Go figure. Maybe Dallas is not far enough into Texas to count as being in Texas.
Anyway, Ang. and I were in Dallas to see Big Head Todd and The Monsters (BHTTM). A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the BHTTM official website had linked to a review I had done of their new album on this site. So, I emailed them about the possibility of doing a review of the Dallas show and their publicist, Erik Filkorn, emailed me back and got me on “the list.” So, thanks Erik.
Attending the concert with us were my friends Tim and Dave. Dave and I had gone to see BHTTM in Oklahoma City in the fall of 1997. This show was at the Granada Theater in the lower Greenville area of Dallas. The Granada has a capacity of about 800 people, so it promised to be an “intimate” setting for a rock show. The actual attendance I could never nail down, but the place was packed, I think the show was sold out, and it looked like maybe 1500 people.
Let’s just say I had concerns about what time we were getting to the show. This lead to several uncomfortable moments with my friend Mike, whose house we were staying at before and after the show. I have an ability to become single- minded about things and when I decided that everyone was allied against me about getting to the show on time, it was not a pretty scene. Verbal threats and some physical action followed. After things got straightened out, we all enjoyed a great steak, grilled out on Mike’s new deck that I helped build. And, we got to the theater about 8:15 for the 9:00 show. I was a happy concert goer.
Interestingly, BHTTM did not beat us down with an inferior opening act. At 9 they came out, started playing, and played for about 2 ½ hours, including an intermission. It was greatness from beginning to end. I wish I had a set list, but I don’t because . . . because . . . well . . . I forgot to bring something to take notes. Bad reviewer, bad reviewer.
The set list for Dallas doesn’t matter anyway. Before going, I glanced at the some of the set lists over at BHTTM website, and just based on my recollection of the show, the set list changes nightly. For instance, the encore in Dallas was “Again and Again,” and “Broken Hearted Savior.”
Side Note: “Again and Again” is my newest favorite live song. It’s a song about a relationship with a woman who can’t decide whether she wants to stay or go. Pretty much BHTTM standard operating procedure for songs. I think I wrote this in my review of their new album, but I would love to meet the girl(s) who screwed up Todd Mohr’s life. As my friend Tim said during the show, “Hell hath no fury like a musician scorned.”
The show itself was a tale of two acts. It takes awhile for an audience to “warm” up to a band. And BHTTM, without an opening act, start with a cold crowd. Not a bad crowd, but a cold crowd: still trying to find a place to stand, getting that last beer before the show starts, making sure their friends all get in, looking around for people they might know, etc. So, the first half of the show was BHTTM getting the crowd into shape for the second half. They hooked me 3 or 4 songs into it when they played “Freedom Fighter” a song off the new album. The chorus is infectious, and despite the subject matter, an upbeat song:
Freedom fighter, don’t let ‘em get you alive
You won’t change a damn thing that is true
Freedom fighter, keep your head on tonight
Take me on with you
Take me along with you tonight
You could actually feel the warmth spreading over the crowd during this song. The whole first half of the show was BHTTM spilling their guts all over the stage and it worked. By the time they played “Circle,” the last song before the intermission, the crowd was ready to go. It was a rowdy second half from note one. About halfway through the second half of the show, Todd told the audience they were the rowdiest audience they had played in front of so far on this tour.
Side Note 2: With everything going on in the world right now, Todd really didn’t talk about anything. They played and played and played and that was enough.
Side Note 3: One of my favorite things at concerts is the crowd. You just never know who is going to show up. There were not that many freaks at this show. One guy, who looked liked he had picked BHTTM as the band to follow after The Dead broke up, had a hard time standing up and was falling on everybody. Tim, fed up, stepped away from him and the guy fell right on his butt. Didn’t faze him though. There was another guy, I didn’t notice him, but Ang. told me after the show that she just wanted to tell him to admit he was gay so he would stop his awkward attempts to dance with girls around us.
I don’t mean to neglect Brian Niven (drums, vocals) and Rob Squires (bass, vocals), because the rhythm section makes the songs work. I watched Brian for awhile and got really, really, really tired. His forearms must be made of steel. Rob is a quiet presence on stage and he lets his bass speak for him, loudly.
The last notes of “Broken Hearted Savior” were fading off when the house lights came up. BHTTM had taken their leave and were off into the night to light up another city with the sounds of heartbreak and redemption, light and darkness, good times and bad:
Rise and fall turn the wheel ’cause all life
Is really just a circle.
Special Thanks to the merchandise woman, I don’t remember her name, but she got me the band’s autograph. Extra Special Thanks to Erik Filkorn for making it possible and Jim Colombo, the tour manager, for agreeing to let me in.
And, here is list of upcoming tour dates:
February 20 L.A. CA — House of Blues
February 21 San Diego, CA — 4th & B
February 22 San Francisco, CA — Warfield Theatre
February 24 Portland, OR — Crystal Ballroom
February 25 Seattle, WA — Moore Theater
February 27 Boise, ID — The Big Easy
February 28 Park City, UT — Harry – O’s