Big Business, Torche, Thrones
August 12, 2011
Better than: 10 million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey
Big Business was the third and final band to take the stage at Dada on Friday night. But with the way things played out, their hour-long set felt more like a bonus set.
That's not to say Big Business was a disappointment, though. Not by any stretch. It's just Torche is a band that is near impossible to follow.
The four members of Torche took stage at 10:30 p.m.. 10 minutes after 11, the large crowd in front of the stage was zapped.
As the band played 13 songs from their back-catalog (which at this point is only an LP, a mini-LP and a couple of EPs), heads shook, arms air-drummed and voices sang along.
With newest guitarist Andrew Elstner in the fold -- a better fit than original guitarist, Juan Montoya -- Torche appeared in fine form. Montoya was a monster of a lead guitarist, but Elstner covered the parts perfectly fine -- and could also sing high harmonies, which was something sadly absent from the band's live shows of yesteryear.
The band rarely took a break between songs, keeping momentum alive minute to minute. The few breaks they took were for addressing speaker monitors and tuning -- and when drummer Rick Smith had to borrow a snare drum after the snares on his drum broke off.
Frontman Steve Brooks usually smiles when he plays with the band, and this show was no exception. By singing clearly with some slight strain, there was a bright flicker of a pop element in the band's twist on all those things labeled stoner and sludge.
Frankly, the band looked like they were celebrating the best 40 minutes of their day, playing in an atmosphere not far removed from a house show, albeit one with a much better P.A.
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Roping back to Big Business: They played 10 songs of sonic maelstrom, but the crowd watching them was slightly smaller in size compared to Torche's crowd. No matter: Bassist/vocalist Jared Warren shouted his head off as guitarist Scott Martin and drummer Coady Willis spun the freight train's wheels. Ending the set with a marathon jam of "Guns," things wrapped up at 12:30 or so.
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Starting the show off was Thrones, a one-man project by Joe Preston. Assisted by backing tracks with his distorted bass guitar, Preston's performance was more demonstration than show. Filling 30 minutes with four songs, there was a confrontational feel to the whole thing. On one hand, there was a lack of fear in going beyond crunchy guitars and half-time beats. The third performed track felt like the soundtrack to a never-ending hunt for whales deep in the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, the set was one guy standing like a statue with his eyes closed. Not the most visually striking sort of thing (and his electronic drums lacked the true punch of real drums), but many stared and watched the entire set.
Personal Bias: I thought Torche was going to headline, and I wasn't surprised at how they blew the other two acts off the stage. Granted, I'm making up for lost time because I missed the band when they came to town last year.
Random Quote: "I just shit a brick," exclaimed one audience member after Torche's seventh song.
By The Way: Deep Ellum regular Bob performed with his keyboard before Big Business's set. He finished with "The Star-Spangled Banner," and people sang along.