Volume: Dia de los Toadies Tres, 08/28/2010, Whitewater Creek, New Braunfels, TX

Oh look, they played “Pink”. I love “Pink”. It’s one of my favorites from back in the day. Apparently, it was a great setlist. And I had missed it, according to my incoming text.

What I had seen, however, was a great show in its own right, Depeche Mode’s Sounds Of The Universe tour. My girlfriend had never seen Depeche Mode, and well, it was my duty to make sure she got to. They are one of her absolute favorite acts. I had seen them several times prior, dating back to 1986’s Black Celebration tour. Unfortunately, for me, tickets went on sale well before the announcement of the date for Dia de los Toadies Dos. And guess what?

They fell on the same date.

I guess they decided not to take any chances this year and announced Dia de los Toadies Tres almost 8 months in advance, definitely beating out any other show that might be scheduled for Aug 27-28. They decided to do two nights this year, the first night, Friday, is an intimate all acoustic night (only 300 tickets sold), with  the main event on Saturday, with a massive lineup covering all walks of the musical landscape.

The third installment of this annual destination festival (the inaugural year was at Possum Kingdom Lake in 2008, and last year saw it emanate from a giant field near Glen Rose) touched on all walks of Texas music – indie rock singer-songwriters, country, rock-n-soul, some metal, and even some alt-rock, just to scratch the surface.

The day began on the main stage with Two Tons of Steel. I had heard of them for years, but was finally afforded a chance to see them. And they did not disappoint after all those years of hype. The legendary Gruene Hall mainstays had the unenviable task of opening the day during possibly the hottest part of the day, which did not deter them one bit, delivering a 30 minute set of energetic country.

Next up was the opening of the side pavilion stage. Spinning Chain were the winners of Austin’s 101X contest to fill the final slot on the bill. Upon first sight, I had equated them with one of Dallas’ favorite acts, the defunct Slow Roosevelt. Upon further introspection, and a little discussion during, they were much more reminiscent of Gravity Kills and Stabbing Westward, and would fit right in with the pseudo-industrial acts of the mid-late 90’s.

Back to the main stage for El Paso’s Sleepercar. I was not aware  this was the latest project from former At The Drive-In/Sparta vocalist Jim Ward (Sparta has been on hiatus since 2008). Playing on borrowed equipment from the next main stage act, Centro-matic, (their gear had been stolen the night before), Sleepercar delivered a solid set of indie-inspired  country-rock for one of the first big surprises of the day.

The ebbs and flows of how this festival was put together came through very nicely, and the shade of the side stage came in handy as well. Journeying back to the side stage brought another pleasant surprise: the energetic punk rock of Here Holy Spain. Following Sleepercars nice smooth set, the frenetic and compelling Here Holy Spain was welcome as a bit of a pickup nearing the middle of the day.

I have not seen Centro-matic since the first year I went to the Austin City Limits Music Festival in ’04. Prepping their first release since the ambitious split double release with their alter-ego, South San Gabriel, 2008’s Dual Hawks, Will Johnson and company sounded fresh and vibrant, as they wasted little time getting into some the louder portions of their expansive catalog. As a highlight, Toadies guitarist and Johnson’s former bandmate in Funland, Clark Vogeler joined the band for the final song, “Fidgeting Wildly” from Austin by Denton quartet’s debut album, 1997’s Redo The Stacks.

Directly following Centro-matic, the side stage presented us with the big surprise act of the day, Austin’s The Bright Light Social Hour. I had seen them earlier while waiting to get in, and was immediately intrigued just by their appearance, especially bassist Jack O’Brien and his mustache. They were loading in their gear, and a group of concertgoers approached them, stating they were the WHOLE reason they were coming to the show. Combining prog, classic rock, and just a hint of tongue-in-cheek awesomeness, and a keytar to boot, The Bright Light Social Hour absolutely brought it to the enthusiastically large crowd that had amassed in front of the side stage. This was easily the largest pavilion crowd of the day, and they were treated to a fantastic barrage of rock.

I have tried to see Austin’s Heartless Bastards several times over the years, always failing, until now. And they were so worth it. Erika Wennerstrom commanded the main stage with such a presence I am saddened I did not see them on some of the smaller stages they have helmed in and around Dallas/Fort Worth. Their bluesy country rock fit right in with the South/Central TX setting, adding starpower and massive value to the bill. I cannot wait to see them again… hopefully very soon.

Signed on the spot to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records, The Smiths cum Riot Grrrl throwback of San Antonio’s Girl In A Coma hearkened back to a time in the 90’s when female acts were everywhere. Not so predominant today, Girl In A Coma’s loud, fierce sound transported you back to a time in which you bought Kill Rock Stars records and owned a record store. Oh wait, maybe that was only me. Their set was much better than anything The Donna’s have brought to the table in YEARS.

The sun has finally started going down, the temperature has dropped considerably, providing a perfect backdrop for Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears. I got to see most of their show at ACL last year, and this was something I was really excited about for this show. A full on bluesy rock-n-soul revue, Black Joe Lewis and company took the crowd to church, so much so, that Toadies frontman Vaden Todd Lewis (no relation, I believe) came out on stage showing his respect and admiration extending their set time and giving them one more song to bring it home. The crowd ate them up, I ate them up, and it’s a shame if anyone wasn’t blown away by their performance. Go see this band. You will NOT regret it.

Closing the side stage out was the latest project from former Doosu founder Casey Hess, Descender. Descender had an even more unenviable task than Two Tons of Steel did when opening the day: closing the side stage and being sandwiched between main stage acts Black Joe Lewis and festival namesake headliners, the Toadies. That being said, the Dallas quartet delivered 30 minutes of big guitar driven rock, driving rhythms, and solid songs, drawing heavily from the recently released Army of Elephants.

Thus bringing us to the last act of a very long, hot day: Toadies. By this point we have been through the musical wringer, switching gears and genres twice an hour in the blazing Texas heat, all to celebrate the quintessential Texas band. I don’t know that many others represent the state like the Toadies do, maybe with the exception of ZZ Top. This is the Lone Star State at its finest, 21 years into their career.

Treating the crowd to a shortened version of their acoustic set from the night before, they kept the masses at bay a little longer. The absolutely gorgeous reworked editions of “Dead Boy”, “I Come From The Water”, “Possum Kingdom” and the attempted LCD Soundsystem cover of “Someone Great” (they had mandolin problems… yes, mandolin), were a giant hit, and if you hadn’t made it the night before, you were very disappointed in yourself, as I know I was. But it was “Tyler”, the re-imagined “Tyler” that got me. This version was absolutely beautiful it moved me to tears with Lewis on mandolin and guitarist Clark Vogeler on Rhodes Organ. I have seen this band 325-plus times, and I was never prouder of them than at that moment.

A short intermission to get the full set ready and we were off. Opening with the early 90’s gem “Got A Heart”, the band tore through 24 songs spanning their entire career, including 6 from the recently released new OLD album, Feeler. The set was a little light on their previous release, 2008’s No Deliverance nor they did not draw much from 2001’s Hell Below/Stars Above. The majority of the 1994 debut Rubberneck was present (except “Quitter”… for shame), as was their contribution to Jim Carrey’s 1996 film, The Cable Guy with “Unattractive”.

Regardless of the set, this was and is a band in full control of its audience. Seeing this festival travel to a more unknown area like New Braunfels and witnessing thousands of attendees basking in the glory of this band is a true testament to their power. And I think the event is only gaining steam. Makes one wonder what Dia de los Toadies Cinco will bring.

As the perennial intro states “This is OUR band, TEXAS!”,

They truly are.

Toadies set

Acoustic: Tyler, I Come From The Water, Dead Boy, Possum Kingdom

Rock: Got A Heart, Backslider, Little Sin, City Of Hate, Heel, Happyface, Suck Magic, ATF, Unattractive, Push The Hand, Pink, No Deliverance, Possum Kingdom, Dollskin, Away, Don’t Let Me Down (Beatles Cover), Tyler

Encore: Trust Game, Mexican Hairless, Nothing To Cry About, Waterfall, I Burn, Mister Love, I Come From The Water

~ by thesynaptic on August 30, 2010.

3 Responses to “Volume: Dia de los Toadies Tres, 08/28/2010, Whitewater Creek, New Braunfels, TX”

  1. Great review. Thanks much!

  2. I would have equated Spinning Chain with the horrid Linkin Park… very far from Stabbing Westward/Gravity kills territory. Otherwise great review.

  3. I video recorded Tyler during the Friday night show…was epic. He played the mandolin there as well.

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