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West Texas Teardrops: Incident In Odessa

Ed. Note: This past weekend, Houston alternative/screamo rockers The Last Place You Look opened for Unwritten Law in Lubbock, Odessa, and Austin, and invited Rocks Off's Matthew Keever along. Here is Part 1.

The Last Place You Look's Justin Nava at Emo's in Austin
The Last Place You Look's Justin Nava at Emo's in Austin

Rocks Off didn't expect much while on tour.

We were prepared to sleep in a van; to go the entire weekend without a shower; to pee, defecate and eat at gas stations when we had time. But it didn't work out quite like that. In fact, we ended up more pampered on the road than we are in our own homes.

Friday night was spent with a high school friend and bandmate of drummer Mikey Garcia's. He took us into his home after hanging out with us at the show (and at the after party), and his wife even cooked us all breakfast in the morning.

We couldn't have asked for anything more... even though vocalist and songwriter Justin Nava ate all the biscuits, leaving none for us.

After introducing us to their pet snake Priscilla, who refused to give any of us kisses, we all went our separate ways. They went to work, and we began the (relatively) short drive to Odessa.

Having never been to Odessa, we weren't sure what to expect. And we still aren't sure if the bar/venue/restaurant that played host to the show was a good representation of the city. It was a hodgepodge of distinctly different buildings - some looked like barns, others corrals, and there was even a bull pen of sorts.

Remember when you were young, and your parents bought you that complicated Lego set? You tried to assemble without reading the instructions, only to come up with something so unsightly that only its creator, you, could love it.

That's what this place looked like - as if it had been cobbled together without much foresight, only for its creator to say, "It works, doesn't it?"

In its own way, it was actually somewhat charming.

 

Unwritten Law front man Scott Russo signs an autograph.
Unwritten Law front man Scott Russo signs an autograph.
Matthew Keever

After we all ate, Scott Russo, Unwritten Law's vocalist, and his son came outside with a football, and TLPYL's members, Rocks Off and the Russo family played a little touch football. While outside, we got to talk to Russo for a few minutes.

We found the choices of Odessa and Lubbock as target markets for Unwritten Law's new album, Swan, as somewhat odd. "Why not San Antonio, Dallas or Houston?" we asked.

Russo then told us that he and his band are playing Warped Tour, which meant that, to not conflict with potential ticket sales, they weren't allowed to play any shows too close to the dates in cites that would play host to the festival.

Authority Zero gets up close and personal.
Authority Zero gets up close and personal.
Matthew Keever

We get the idea, but it's unfortunate for them, because their new album is actually pretty good, and they would have had much more of a draw in larger cities. But that didn't stop them from having fun, playing well and meeting plenty of fans who were beside themselves with excitement.

For the second night in a row, all of the music went underappreciated. TLPYL, Austin's Electric Touch, Authority Zero and Unwritten Law all put on solid sets, only to be altogether unnoticed.

Russo took a dive during his performance, but quickly got up and continued playing. He also brought his son onstage to sing the second verse of "Seeing Red," to the delight of the small crowd.

So many more people should have been there; they would have really enjoyed the show. Such is life, we supposed. But at the end of the night, there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel.

As we were driving away from the venue, Nava received a text. This is hardly a momentous occasion, as his phone is constantly buzzing. But this text makes him smile, as he proudly tells his bandmates that "Band to Save Me," one of their singles, is playing on Houston's 94.5 The Buzz.

We may have been in Odessa, but TLPYL could feel the love 500-plus miles away.


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