The Life and Times, The Cush, Calhoun Dan's Silverleaf Thursday, January 19
The Life and Times didn't get their set going until 15 minutes after midnight, but almost everyone who came stayed until the very end. The trio, lit only by four lights placed at waist level around the stage, showcased songs from latest No One Loves You Like I Do, as well as earlier gems like "Dull Knives" from Tragic Boogie and "My Last Hostage" from debut Suburban Hymns.
Since the band's material doesn't stray far away from the pavement they laid on Suburban Hymns, it was easy to make a set list that didn't drag or feel long in the tooth. Frontman Allen Epley said very little early on, simply introducing some of the new material and thanking the crowd for the applause. There was rocking to do and the crowd got plenty of that.
Each band member had their own keyboard, which they played at various points. Epley and bassist Eric Abert had semi-circles of guitar pedals at their feet, and used almost every one. The critical component was with drummer Chris Metcalf. Though he's a skinny guy with glasses that would fit right in at a Jeopardy! casting call, he made the band a sonic bulldozer, hitting his kit so hard he often had to move his snare and rack tom back towards him. Imagine John Bonham playing with Max Roach-like jazz flair.
After 14 songs, including a two-song encore, the band called it a night, but The Life and Times weren't the only noteworthy act of the night.
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Fort Worth's Calhoun showed why they deserve all the praise they've received over the years. Fronted by Tim Locke, along with assistance from Little Black Dress' Toby Pipes on keyboards and backing vocals, the band's 45 minutes sounded great. Locke, with a gentle voice that could easily draw comparisons to Paul Simon and Bono, sang brightly and directly, and the band balanced lighter tunes with more driving material.
The Cush, on the other hand, started off very strong and ended strong, but there were a few missteps along the way. The band, featuring members of Deep Ellum legends Buck Jones and Doosu, had a shoegaze sound that wisely skipped the self-indulgent side of the genre. With incredible male/female harmonies throughout and a pretty, lonesome country tune in the middle, what felt awkward was when the band played material that sounded like slowed-down glam rock. Critic's Notebook
Personal bias: First time for me to see The Life and Times and The Cush, but second time to see Calhoun. And even though I've been to Dan's Silverleaf many times over the years, I can't help feeling like it's my favorite Denton venue to see bands in. Maybe because it's smoke-free inside or the tables and chairs. Probably.
Random quote: "This is where I learned to smoke crystal meth," Tim Locke said of Denton between songs.