Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Surreal: having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic.

Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas – 2/19/2011

The Black Keys music that I own:
6 studio albums
Dan’s solo: Keep It Hid
3 soundtrack releases
1 cover song from a various artist CD
1 EP: Chulahoma

 Black Keys music that I’m Missing:
1 split artist EP
Pat Carney’s indie band album “Feel Good Together” by Drummer
The collaborative BlakRoc album
2 live albums 

The Black Keys, an American “garage/blues-rock” band from Akron Ohio, are on the verge of greatness… again.  With three 2011 Grammy’s under their belt, an album on the top of many ‘Best of the Year’ lists, and over a million records sold… it seems to be that THIS TIME it’s really going to happen for them. 

 That being said, it’s still surprising that people give me a blank stare when I start geeking out over whatever piece of Black Keys music is turning me on at the moment.  Are there really still people out there NOT jumping on the Black Keys bandwagon?  I guess I’m really just waiting for the band to get so big as to have my Katy Perry-loving girlfriends, who shall remain nameless, start spazzing over some album I’ve had for almost a decade… or when EVERYONE starts calling them sellouts for FINALLY being recognized for their talent. Which I might add, is well deserved!  Yes, the Zale’s and car commercials are killing me, but it’s not going to make me stop loving them.

 It pains me that I didn’t see them at the Granada or Ridglea way back when I was still in ‘breeder’ mode.  Unfortunately, that was before I had my third-of-life crisis and decided I was still young enough to go to a million concerts a year, EVEN ON WEEKDAYS! GASP!  Sadly, I felt like with each new Black Keys album I was losing my chance to see them before they got ‘stadium big’.  And wouldn’t you know, the only time they came to Dallas (post third-life-crisis)… it was at the freakin’ Starplex stadium… opening for Kings of Leon.  Basically that means Sara and Peter paid over $120 to see the Black Keys play without their own stage and light set up… for just an hour.  I felt ripped off.  But I was also happy with whatever I could get.

 Flash forward to Peter’s third-of-life crisis which involves bizarre lovey-dovey behavior towards his wife, a need to polish his ‘rough looking’ boots, and a Strange Desire to travel without the kids and spend money recklessly… that’s just weird for Peter!  REALLY weird.  My concern quickly changed to fanatic elation when he surprised me with birthday plane tickets to Las Vegas and SOLD OUT tickets to the Black Keys concert at the Chelsea Ballroom in the Cosmopolitan Hotel!  Yes, I cried.  Yes, it was solely the outcome of such a special gift to see the Black Keys, once again on the verge of greatness, headlining a smaller venue… IN LAS VEGAS!!!  I mean, that’s like mission impossible caliber!

In a whirlwind weekend, we flew into Vegas… stayed up all night eating, drinking, gambling, watching the Beatles LOVE Cirque show… slept a wink, then geeked out over music memorabilia at the Hard Rock Hotel, walked through the Cosmopolitan in stunned awe of the classic yet modern beauty of the magnificent hotel and the artwork throughout… ate gourmet tapas at the hotel buffet… and the icing on the cake: we saw Cage the Elephant and MY Black Keys in a beautiful art deco type ballroom… with a noir feel to the whole night! 

 Cage the Elephant started the concert off to a frenzied start with the band spewing out electric energy at a frenetic pace and Matthew Shultz wailing punk rock greatness into his microphone, talk-singing in an almost Black Francis-type manner.  Their shining moment came when the singer wrapped his hand all the way around the mic, clutched it tight as he leaned towards the crowd… and through the split in his mop of Kurt Cobain hair… he says, “Do you guys like crowd surfing?  I really like crowd surfing.”  And then he commenced hurling himself into the audience during lyric breaks… the band holding time for him to get back on stage again and again.  And in final grandeur, he walks out ON TOP of the audience holding the mic while a stage hand holds the wire up above the crowd.  I’ve never seen anything like that.  Period.

 After waiting 4 hours for my band, they FINALLY took the stage.  And it was All I Ever Wanted.  Two individuals with the same soul for music, no theatrics… just music.  The blues just seem to emanate out of Dan, as if the gravity of the music might break his soul in half.  Eyes closed the majority of the time, instinctively swaying,  and music, that has been the landscape of my life for a decade, radiating out of him in sonic boom manner… forcing me to geek out, on a daily basis… about a band that I love as much as Pink Floyd, or the Talking Heads, or Jimi Hendrix, or U2. 

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2/18/2011 Grace Potter and the Nocturnals HOB Dallas
2/19/2011 Tapes ‘n Tapes the Loft
2/19/2011 Broken Social Scene HOB Dallas
2/19/2011 the Black Keys (YAY ME!!!)  LAS VEGAS
2/23/2011 Steve Miller Band HOB Dallas
2/24/2011 The Whiskey Folk Ramblers Lola’s Fort Worth
2/24/2011 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Saraland
2/25/2011 Hayes Carll Lola’s Fort Worth
3/9/2011 Telegraph Canyon Lola’s Fort Worth
3/11/2011 Dr.Dog (and various artists that I like less than Dr. Dog) Thur-Sun 35 Conferette Festival/Denton
3/12/2011 Dove Hunter Lola’s Fort Worth
3/15/2011 DeVotchKa Granada Theater
3/18/2011 Trampled by Turtles the Loft
3/18/2011 Dawes with Deertick Club Dada
4/1/2011 John Mellencamp Verizon Theatre
4/2/2011 Cold War Kids CANCELLED! BOO!  (I really wanted to go to this) Southside Music Hall
4/7/2011 Band of Horses Verizon Theatre
4/9/2011 Eleven Hundred Springs (CD Release Party) Lola’s Fort Worth
4/13/2011 Crosby and Nash Verizon Theatre
4/16/2011 The Avett Brothers Palladium Ballrom
4/29/2011 Decemberists HOB Dallas
5/2/2011 The Moody Blues Verizon Theatre
6/6/2011 Deftones Verizon Theatre
6/15/2011 Adele HOB Dallas

Check out to create your own list of DFdubs CTWS… based on your favorite artists!

Dr. Dog
The Palladium 11/11/10

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Dallas House of Blues 11/4/10
King Charles, Cadillac Sky,
and Mumford and Sons

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I will admit that I’m obsessive to the point of insanity… especially about music. And after listening to the poetic lyrics and classical instruments of Mumford and Sons, I knew they would put on an amazing show.  What I did not count on was the talent of the preceding acts to be just as grand.   

The night of the show, my friend and I arrived to the House of Blues half an hour before the 8pm show time… only to find that we would have to wait outside in the cold until they decided to open the doors.  Herded like cows to slaughter, we squished our bodies with strangers and pretended that we were not about to pee our pants.  And things didn’t improve much as we blindly followed a teeming mass of hipsters shuffling their way to the GENERAL “standing room only” area when the doors opened at 8. 

Packed again with the other sardines, I started having claustrophobia induced visions of elbows in my back, and obnoxious drunk girls slurring in my ear.  Although, I was pleased that we had center stage in our direct line of sight about 10 feet back… I can only imagine how the poor souls felt that arrived late to find their spot by the beer bucket/bathroom line.  My pissiness quickly returned as I finished my 24 oz. can o’ crap beer and there was still no sign of the opening band.

Just then, the lights lowered and a lanky Patrick Dempsey looking man carrying a white guitar, with his hair literally piled a foot on top of his head, walked on stage.  I’m not going to lie… in my head I thought, “Oh great,  a cult leader-esque narcissist to sit through before we endure another opener’s bluegrass hoedown.” 

But then he opened his mouth…


When King Charles opened his mouth… he started singing in the loudest, most pitch perfect voice I have ever heard… complete with his own brand of witty, poetic lyrics, as well as hummingbird hands strumming on his white guitar.  There was instantly a unanimous “Who the hell IS this guy?!” buzz in the audience… his magical pipes having disolved any cynics in the audience immediately as he stood on stage BY HIMSELF casting a spell on us all.

I’m a sentimental soul, and even though everything he sang was magic, when he asked if there were any Billy Joel fans in the audience I may have shed a nostalgic tear.  And those tears may have multiplied as we sang the chorus to his very own version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” 

***for extra credit: Check out “Love Lust”
and my favorite from the concert (although, nothing I’ve found comes close to the live performance) “Ivory Road” 


As our hearts still thumped for King Charles, Cadillac Sky took the stage… With enough beard to fill a Giants baseball team, these  homegrown musicians won over the audience with their friendly and comical TEXAS skit:

“You know what we love about playing in Texas?”
[crowd cheers]
“Every time we say ‘Texas’ the audience screams!”
[crowd screams]
David Mayfield leans into the mic, and evenly says, “T-e-x-a-s”
[crowd ballistically screams]
And then he leans once more and speaks slowly, “Oklahoma”
[crowd BOOOOOS, then laughs]

I wish more people listened to this type of music.  They were so very talented on their ‘old fashioned’ instruments… it felt like HOME listening to them play… like only a sentimental southern TEXAS girl could appreciate.  Not only that, but these guys are the most hospitable musicians you’ll ever see… inviting the audience to meet them after the show and grab a free download card for 3 of their tracks.  It’s not like these guys are playing the Wreck Room, you know?!  Good stuff.


The first time I heard “the Cave” by Mumford and Sons, I was blown away.  So lyrically heavy that it sucks the breath right out of your chest while you listen, even though it would take a poet or philosopher to decipher the meaning upon first examination. 

It’s empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you’ve left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

Yes, it may have been three hours after we had arrived for the concert when Mumford and Sons finally took the stage… but to me, the wait was worth it.  I don’t know that I’ll ever see another show with 2 different opening bands fitting so seamlessly with the headliner.

“White Blank Page” WAS a kick in the chest, as a friend so aptly put it… and when Mumford and Sons played “Roll Away Your Stone” another wave of nostalgia hit me and sent my heart racing with excitement, adrenalin, and love… a wave that I would ride for the rest of the night and into my dreams.  I woke up singing the lyrics of poets and humming the folk-rock harmonies of Englishmen.

The Palladium Dallas 7/5/10

After watching  a few videos of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros performing live, I knew I would be crazy if I passed up a chance to see them in my own backyard.  This hippie jam band consists of  a rambling 10 member cast of characters that build songs from crescendos of percussion, dynamic his and her vocals,  and all encompassing lyrics filled with death, life and love.

And so it goes, we bought the tickets online a week early and easily talked a couple of friends into going with us, because I’m sure they would have never resigned the bragging rights of seeing this wonderful band that we all have so much faith in… before they become mainstream. 

I knew the night of the concert would be hectic.  I packed like crazy bag lady Ally Sheidi before work, knowing that I would have to change in the bathroom, catch my ride, and high tail it to Dallas to make the 8:00pm show time.  On the way, our anticipation was building with every song that played from the Up From Below CD.  We talked about the bands psuedo figure ‘Edward Sharpe’, the 12 part video musical in the making, the recurring lyrical theme of momento mori, and Jade’s ubiquitous presence in every aspect of the group.  And Peter threatened severe penalty if they did not play Home… after being subjected to it repeatedly from every room in the house via  my children and myself.

We arrived on time, with 5 minutes to spare.  My excitement was palpable and I could hardly contain myself long enough to buy a concert tee from a table at the entrance of the building.  After choosing the perfect tee that would fit only me, to ensure Peter could not steal it… I rolled it up, and shoved it into my front pocket.  From there we entered the main stage area and I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance, considering the descriptions I had read online… with endearments such as ‘warehouse’, ‘hole in the wall’, and ‘trample factory.’  The floors were covered with warm colored hardwood, and the main stage area was surrounded by a bar on either side with a wrap around iron railing.

At first, I assumed we should find a spot by the rail because the floor space was already half filled with a teeming mass of hipsters, but as we walked around to the bar on the far side of the room we noticed an opening right up in front of stage right.  I passively creeped up to see if anyone would glare and fend off the prime spot… but the closer I came to the stage, the less I cared about physical or mental harm… and I slid right into one of the best spots in the house. 

The Palladium is standing room only, so if you move, your spot is gone… and gazing upon the battered mini piano with silk red roses woven into the microphone wire and the huge triptych Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz hand painted on drop cloths covering the back of the stage… I knew I might as well have been made of stone because I was certainly not going to budge one single inch for bathroom breaks, drinks, anyone or anything else.

After standing around for what seemed like half an hour, we heard mumblings of the opening act cancelling… which only made my excitement grow as we saw more and more stage hands mulling about this or that.  And then she was there.  Jade Castrinos, with an ear to ear grin, and the floating swagger of a gypsy.  She wore a patterned dress and had a tiny satchel draped across her.  The buzz in the crowd became more frenzied, and it took all the will power I had not to whip around and scold an obnoxious young girl that was slurring about not knowing who the hell this band even was… and then taunting, “Come on Edward Scissorhands!  Let’s see if you suck!”  Seriously… so close to a smack down.

I continued to people watch, as Jade and the piano player, Aaron Embry, set the tone for what was to come. Next, the band joined them for a hauntingly beautiful This Is Not Our Home… dedicated to BP.  And when Alex finally came on, the crowd was overjoyed.  He wore his iconic white tattered suit and red scarf, and started out singing sitting ‘indian style’ on the floor.

The couple next to me did not sway to the music and wore the intense faces of two emotionless ghosts through the first three songs.  I saw the faint stir of disdain in the girl ghost when a scantily clad, less than sober, groupie-esque girl tried repeatedly to pass the huge bodyguard at the side of the stage next to us. 

I looked at her and said, “You and me, let’s go… I think we could take him.”

Finally a laugh.  They did not sing or say a word for the rest of the concert…  But they held hands and they did not remove their gaze from the stage one time.

As sad as it is, I had been “studying” the lyrics… because, I figured, they have ONE album.  I will know EVERY word to EVERY song they play.  And the album is not just good, it’s phenomenal.  And to think, they were essentially opening for themselves! 

I sang until my throat hurt, I danced my own gypsy dance without shame, I waved at Jade (because she was RIGHT THERE)… and she smiled her Jade smile and waved back at me, I pointed at Alex while singing a chorus… and he pointed and sang back at me.  I felt like I was the only one there… but also like we were all connected in our own blissed out worlds.  Even the drunk Edward Scissorhands girl had stopped running her mouth, and was close to tears.

When they broke out the opening lyrics to Home, I looked over to see Peter’s triumphant grin.  It was like magic.  Just like when Alex leapt over the rail and walked right into the crowd to sing the final song, Brother.  Only after he asked everyone in the Palladium to sit down on the floor, did he begin to sing.  It was a surreal ending to an ethereal concert.

I’m not going to lie, after three and a half hours of not moving from my spot next to the stage (and three beers later)… I was making a beeline for the restrooms.  But not before snagging a few autographs on my tee from the piano player, the drummer, and one of the percussionists. 

When I left the restroom everyone was being ushered out.  Fortunately, we were still waiting on the boys to close our tab… so we lucked into meeting the band.  I’ll spare you all the gory details of my geekiness upon meeting Alex and Jade… but my face in the pictures pretty much sums it up.

There are some pretty phenomenal things going on in music right now, and if you want a piece of the action BEFORE these bands get big ~at $15-$25 a pop~ then check out these shows that are coming to the metroplex!  I’ll keep my eyes on the radar for anything newly announced.  Oh, and you may think these great little bands suck, ONLY if you don’t like hipster-blues-indie-rock-folk-dance-punk AWESOMENESS to rock your face off!!! 

July 1st: Psychedelic Furs @ the Granada (80’s brit-pop-rockers ❤ ) 

*July 5th: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ the Palladium (10 member band playing blissed out folk rock, YEAH!) 

*July 7th:
Islands @ the Loft $12-$14 (peculiar, catchy awesomeness)

July 7th:
Mates of State @ the Granada (chick singer – indie rock)

July 9th:
Telegraph Canyon @ Lochranns Irish Pub

*July 15th:
Delta Spirit @ the Loft $12-$14 (indie rocker folk BADASSEDNESS… kinda reminiscent of Bright Eyes with a pinch less angst)

July 17th:
Observer Music Awards @ TREES (not sure if I’m still hard-core enough to truly enjoy TREES like only a punk kid can)

July 17th:
Eleven Hundred Springs @ the Granada (If you like country and some rock… you should love these guys!)

July 21st:
Silversun Pickups @ the Palladium

July 24th:
New Pornographers @ the Palladium (LOFT) $22-$25 *ALSO playing: The Spazmatics $15

August 7th:
Ishi @ the Loft $10-$12 (folky, yet electro pop-ISH)

August 7th:
TOADIES @ the Palladium

August 11th:
Cyndi Lauper @ HOB

August 11th:
Built to Spill and Telegraph Canyon @ the Granada

August 12th:
Lords of Acid and Thrill Kill Cult @ TREES (I KNOW I’m not hard-core enough to handle this show anymore!)

August 12th:
Hacienda @ the Prophet Bar  August 13th: Hacienda @ Boiler Room

*August 13th:
Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears @ the Loft $12 (great bluesy band from Austin influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and James Brown)

*August 13th:
Eleven Hundred Springs @ Lola’s Saloon FTW (GREAT BAR!!!)

August 24th:
Billy Idol @ the Palladium (If there’s an off chance you would NOT fist pump to Billy Idol… I don’t want to know you)

BEDFORD BLUES FEST (battle of the bands lots of musicians)  the headliners-
Sept 4th: Robert Cray
*Sept 5th: Buddy Whittington

September 19:
The Pixies @ Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie

*September 23rd:
THE BLACK KEYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and kings of leon @ the old Starplex (I don’t care what it’s called now)

*October 6th:
Vampire Weekend @ the Palladium (I love this catchy band… they sorta remind me of The Police or Paul Simon)

*October 8th:
Matt and Kim @ HOB (I LOOOOVE this hip dance-punk duo… at least that’s the genre according to WIKI- HA!)


Brave Grasshopper

Posted: November 9, 2009 in food, random, reviews

My friend Cheryl made out a 30 by 30 list of 30 things that she would like to accomplish by the time she is thirty… and like any good blogger she polled her loyal fans for ideas.  Since she is a PICKY high-maintenance eater I suggested that she eat Vietnamese food with me to try something new… and so WE DID! 🙂

Vietnamese style Eggrolls and  nước mắm (fermented fish sauce)
They only brought us one white girl utensil packet… I must look like a pro! 😉
 Phở Ga (chicken soup) Grilled and shredded pork and steamed rice, and the garnishments are mint leaves, bean sprouts, and vinegared carrots.
My FAVORITE!!! Cheryl’s not favorite.
Boba Thai Tea – don’t choke on the bobas Cheryl!
(She didn’t like it as you can see)
Thanks Cheryl for not being a wuss… like all you other ladies that backed out! 😉