Not as if I thought I’d be writing a poor review for a bill like this, but for shit’s sake- this show was awesome. I’ve had the pleasure seeing all three bands before and on several occasions but this show outdid those ones and in the best way possible. Something I’ve discovered about seeing bands multiple times is catching which ones are improving and striving to get better and which ones are just content to perform as they are. The Howls, Dead Feather Moon, and The Silent Comedy all fall into the former category. So let’s get weird here…
When I first tried listening to The Howls online (to gear up for a show they were playing with, my beloved, The Heavy Guilt) I thought I hated them. That’s because I was listening to a band from the UK called The Howls. I do not recommend. Our Howls are rad! Singer John Cooper brings a youthful energy to the stage (he reminds me of an 8-year-old I babysit and I mean that as a compliment and only partially because they have the same haircut.) That energy and spirit was a perfect way to get the night started. If anyone waited to show up for the later bands, you messed up. You messed up bad. Playing crowd friendly originals like the folk-rock “Weight” and covers, their set offered a peek at what Cooper and company can do. I’m excited to see where they go with the new album, The sound is a mixture of alt-country, folk, and pure bred rock. Good ol’ fashioned show-going fun with guitar-heavy songs along with the added bonus of keyboards and harmonica. I have a thing for the harmonica.
After enough of a break for the floor of the Belly Up to fill to the brim, Dead Feather Moon took the stage. Starting with an unreleased track “Always Around” they brought it all on the very first song. Featuring an amazing keyboard component from Greg Peters, this lush tune highlights Justen Berge’s power on vocals, along with perfected performances on guitar by Jesse Kling, bass by Chris Bowling, and drums by Tyler Soule. Spot on way to start the set. The fan favorite tunes followed and “Dark Horse” as always stood out to me as a song that symbolizes exactly what DFM is. The passion and cohesive nature of the band is palpable with this one. The build up to the hard-hitting bridge (I have no idea if that’s the right terminology but I’m going with it) showcases the individual talents within the tight-knit group. The culmination of the vocals would bring the house to its feet if they weren’t there already. If nothing else does, that song lets you know these dudes have staying power. And if you doubt their range they show a softer approach with tunes like “Never Gets Better” (also unreleased.) It’s inspiring to know that Dead Feather Moon (and The Silent Comedy) are off to South by Southwest, where they will undoubtedly garner themselves some much-deserved attention.
The Silent Comedy finished the night in fun and fantastic fashion as always. The guys had a gracious tone the entire set. Singer Joshua Zimmerman thanked fans for making it a sell out crowd and expressed the band’s appreciation for the years of support from fans and venues that got them there. The night was put on by The Casbah, who they also thanked, as TSC is a band that makes sure to pay homage to their roots. The lengthy set was like a thank you gift to everyone present that night and in spirit- from older favorites like “’49” and “Gasoline” to brand new first-time-being-played tunes they pulled some serious magic from their hats (pun intended.) The guys were equally accessible on hard rocking, foot stomping tunes like “The Prince” and the tender “Break it Slow.” Adding a horn and string section to songs, bringing their theatrical nature to the show, and their raw talent made for an epic TSC performance.
As a grand finale the guys invited The Howls and the Dead Feather Moon crews to join them on stage. The back-slapping, hug frenzy that erupted gave a glimpse at the camaraderie that exists within and between the bands. Greg Peters of DFM feeding sips of beer to John Cooper of The Howls and DFM singer, Justen Berge was a sight to behold. Josh Zimmerman got down on the floor with fans inviting them to get low to the floor, as he, brother Jeremiah, and the bands continued to sing and play… yes, there was cowbell. If anyone in the place wasn’t grinning from ear to ear- I didn’t see it. The dudes on stage (and mid floor) looked like they were having the absolute time of their lives and after the work they’ve all put in and the performances they gave the Belly Up- they earned it.
Sounds to Sample from The Howls, Dead Feather Moon, and The Silent Comedy:
Pick up an album from each of these bands, support local music for a few bucks, and it will be so worth it:
“Rocky Ground” by The Howls – available on their site.
“Dark Sun” album and “Leave Heaven to the Birds” EP by Dead Feather Moon – available on their site.
MP3 downloads of select discs by The Silent Comedy – available on Amazon. (Or pick up “Common Faults” on their site and keep checking back for more music.)