Maltoro, Spitfire Tumbleweeds

Friday, January 21, at Double Wide

Last Friday night at Double Wide looked more like the biker bar Reno's Chop Shop Saloon. That's because Dallas' Maltoro, featuring members of the now-defunct country-metal band Ghoultown, headlined the evening and brought their favorite roughnecks and rockabilly babes along for the ride. Sadly, those fans weren't much of an audience for openers Spitfire Tumbleweeds. When the Denton septet began, Double Wide again transformed, this time into Austin's Continental Club--country music this deep, rich and unique couldn't be in Dallas, right? Well, ST turns out to be one of the finest country bands I've heard around town, sounding as if Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds crash-landed in an East Texas forest, set up camp and jammed in a shack. The band pays equal tribute to Hank Williams III and Johnny Cash, but their biggest asset is cohesiveness. Aside from a couple of silly blues guitar solos, the guys keep a level head as banjo, mandolin, slide guitar and the surprisingly rich vocals of Record Hop's Scott Porter blend together like a dark, Southern stew. Despite a few fans, though, the crowd sat silent while awaiting their dark lords. Maltoro got off to a screaming start, but the whole "hell"-billy sound quickly proved itself a schtick--this wasn't insane rockabilly, let alone evil, brooding country, but rather an excuse for a Cult cover band to wear cowboy hats and play rollicking country drumbeats over stale metal riffs, all of which missed tempo frequently. Lyle Cortez's screams fell somewhere between Iron Maiden and Slayer, but the higher-pitched shouts only emphasized the band's cheesiness, and during a by-the-numbers cover of Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," Double Wide transformed yet again--this time, into the seventh level of hell.

 
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