Pale, Come See My Dead Person, The Shiny Darks Warehouse Live Studio April 28, 2011
Pale is a transparent band. With a new record under its belt on a new label, a national distribution deal, and a well-known Los Angeles-based publicist, the band makes no bones about shooting for the big time.
Thursday night's CD release show was no different, with the band kicking things off with a VIP/media reception in Warehouse Live's Green Room. Despite the hype associated with any band's new album -- countless photo ops, management hassles -- it ultimately comes down to the music, and last night was no different.
After watching local bands slog it out in front of practically no one for so many years, Aftermath loves the fact that many Houston bands have found devoted audiences. Last night's crowd was about half the capacity of Warehouse Live's Studio, which is more than we've seen at some national shows.
The Shiny Darks, a band new to Aftermath, warmed up the crowd with its raw and bubbly punk rock. Seemingly Hot Topic-approved, the band -- singer/bassist Paul Mendez, drummer Gem Mendez, with guitarist Quenton Rockwell -- played a handful of songs from its new Stab At Love EP, of which "I Wanna Be A Kennedy" (not a Kill Hannah cover) and "Photographs" were standouts.
However, it was the band's cover of the Ramones' classic "Blitzkrieg Bop" that won over the crowd.
Next up was local collective Come See My Dead Person, a band which first impressed Aftermath a couple of years back at one of the Free Press Houston Block Parties. While the sound seemed bit muddled from where we were standing, no one else in the crowd seemed to notice.
The band's unique, free-form and folksy rock had several in the crowd dancing -- it was easy to see that the band made a few new fans, in addition to the ones they brought themselves.
After a rambling, but endearing, introduction from local radio personality and unabashed Pale fan Donna McKenzie (of Houston's 103.7FM, which sponsored last night's show), Pale began its 12-song set with "Bad Intel," the intro track from In the Time of Dangerous Men (which you can read more about in this week's Press) and whipped through the majority of the new album to a mostly rabid, and increasingly sloppy, crowd.
While Pale is best known for its dramatic rock a la Muse, the foursome -- frontman Calvin Stanley, guitarist/keyboardist Robb Moore, bassist Stephen Wesson, and drummer Travis Middour -- mixes things up on the new album, incorporating a heavy dose of the '80s into its songs.
"Sinking Feeling," which Stanley told the crowd was played on Houston radio yesterday, is completely different that anything Pale has done before, a garage-y, fuzzed-out pop song that the crowd noticeably enjoyed. The song may not be representative of the band's overall sound, but it shows they have guts enough to experiment successfully.
On "My Final Warning," which Stanley called a prayer, the band found its groove and set the stage for a couple of the slower, more melodic songs the band's fans have come to love over the years. Similarly, "Bazooka" and OK Computer-influenced closer "An Exploding Whisper" were also highlights, both showcasing the band's increasing focus on atmospherics and its Britrock influence.
After a very brief break, Pale returned for an encore, which featured "The Mistake" from 2007's Mandatory Ambulance EP. Though the song showcases Stanley's vocal range, he left the stage toward the end of the song to give the band a chance to end the night with an extended spacey and bluesy jam. It was an unexpected -- and rewarding -- ending to an impressive set.
If Pale can connect to half its audiences as well as it did last night, then perhaps In The Time of Dangerous Men will be a stepping stone to success the band is counting on. Let's hope so.
Personal Bias: We're mostly a sucker for heartfelt lyrics, so Pale is a no-brainer. Plus, they have a real Britrock-influenced sound, which we also love.
The Crowd: Some rabid Pale fans, a couple of cougars well past their prime, some old-guard music scenesters like McKenzie and David Sadof, musician Mykel Foster, and various label and PR folk.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Freebird!" No, really...
Bad Intel Sinking Feeling My Final Warning Soon My My My Catastrophic Skies Wolves Wait Can You See Bazooka Our LoneStar Shines An Exploding Whisper
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.