The 90's Today - Checking in w/ Quicksand, The Melvins, Chainsaw Kittens & much more (Sept/2017)

So while it may seem we are looking back, we are actually looking forward as so many of your fave bands from the 1990's are either still going strong two decades later or catching their second wind for an awesome return. Here we take a look at a few that are still doing it big & a few that are coming back stronger than ever.

Quicksand - September 15th - The Mohawk - Austin, TX

NYC post-hardcore badasses Quicksand rolled into Austin & put on one of the best shows of the year. Releasing two full-length albums in the 90’s before disbanding, Quicksand reunited in 2012 and have sporadically been playing shows ever since. Shortly after their current tour was announced, we learned a new album is slated for release on November 10. Based on what we witnessed last night, there’s much hope for Quicksand’s future. 

 

 

The band opened with at least 6 straight songs from their classic 1993 album Slip, which had the crowd (& myself) going crazy like it was 1995 all over again.
The bands energy was high, the crowd was singing along word-for-word, with zero signs of wear & tear besides one slight hiccup that actually proved to be quite ineffective. See, they were (unexpectedly) performing as a three-piece, as 2nd guitarist Tom Capone abruptly left the tour a few days prior after a bizarre shoplifting incident in Arizona.

However the band's sound was full and the performance was intense. Vocalist/guitarist Walter Schreifel danced, bounced around, and engaged the crowd with perfectly timed sing-a-longs. Bassist Sergio Vega who also plays with the Deftones (& whom I would never play poker with as the last time he & I spoke was at a recent Deftones gig & when I asked him about Quicksand he said nothing was going on only for this tour & LP to be announced the NEXT DAY, touche sir).

Couldn't possibly exagerate this band's importance to me personally in the early to mid 1990's. I remember them cancelling a gig at Trees in Dallas back in 1994 & we didn't know it till we arrived (pre-internet) & I thought we were gonna cry. The door guy at the time told us they went over to the Bomb Factory to watch the Cranberries & we actually entertained the idea to go find them before cooler heads prevailed.

On this night they seemed every bit as inspired as they were over 20 years ago & went on to play tracks from 1995’s Manic Compression and a handful of new songs from their forthcoming album, Interiors.
The new material sounded great. It was fresh, loud, and quintessentially Quicksand. Often when bands take a decade-plus hiatus, they return with something mediocre. But, they proved unequivocally that they can still deliver. What’s more, the new songs don’t seem to just pick up where they left off, but have their own original quality, demonstrating that they have all grown and developed as musicians and songwriters.  

If you didn’t catch on to Quicksand in the 90’s, don't miss their second act. This is one seriously powerful band. 

Setlist - 

Fazer 
Too Official 
Head To Wall 
Unfulfilled 
Freezing Process 
Lie And Wait 
Delusional 
Illuminant 
Thorn in My Side 
Interiors 
Hyperion 
Shovel 
Brown Gargantuan 
Omission 
Landmine Spring 

Encore: 

Under the Screw 
Dine Alone 
Skinny (It's Overflowing)

 


311 - August 8th - Southside Ballroom - Dallas, TX

Ok so full disclosure: I have a total bias here as when I attend 311 shows it's not in the capacity of a member of the press but with great gratitude as a guest of their bass player Aaron Pnut Wills. Through my work with Claude Coleman Jr of Ween (who happens to be his fave band) we have formed a real friendship these past 7 years & it's only becomes more enjoyable & our bond even closer with each trip around the sun the once or twice a year we see each other & catch up.

For the sake of this article, I wanted to tell you that 311 are still Three-Elevening & that's a beautiful thing. Same members, same positivity, & still putting on fun shows & churning our great music like this year's Mosaic for which this tour is in support of.

    

 

Almost three decades ago, 311 took what they started in Nebraska of all places, and despite a multitude of styles that changed in rock, continue to do what they do. Watching them perform, is like witnessing a well-oiled machine but that's not to say it's robotic or formulaic, it's just done well. You will see a few band's on this list that pop culture or revisionist might make you feel compelled to defend your fandom of over the year & 311 is no stranger to that & that's what make's their perserverance just that much more special.

They maintain a committed, loyal (& often quite attractive) fan base that when you attend the show it's a true anachronism as these guys never left & don't seem to show any signs of doing so anytime soon.

Setlist - 

Perfect Mistake 
Beautiful Disaster 
Do You Right 
Too Much to Think 
Freeze Time 
All Mixed Up 
Too Late 
Come Original 
Hey Yo 
On a Roll 
Amber 
Wildfire 
Don't Stay Home 
Applied Science (w/drum solo incl. entire band) 
'Til the City's on Fire 
You Wouldn't Believe 
One and the Same 
Unity 
Hive 
Down 
 

Encore: 

Omaha Stylee 
Beyond the Gray Sky 
Creatures (For a While)

 

   
The Toadies - September 6th - Rockin Rodeo - Denton,TX

The Toadies have been Fort Worth’s alternative rock heroes for decades, but they are hardly a thing of the past. Just last week, the four-piece group brought back its classic sound with a new album and kicked off a two-month tour with this sold-out show in Denton. 

“Rubberneck,” the Toadies’ classic 1994 debut album, shot the band to fame and led to years of relentless touring. Out of several potential hit singles, “Possum Kingdom,” a particularly creepy track about cult members inspired by Texas folklore, somehow became the band’s signature tune. In the post-Nirvana era, the song was in steady rotation on MTV, and radio stations all over the country played it for years. “Rubberneck” eventually sold a million copies. Issues with the record label ultimately delayed the release of the Toadies’ sophomore effort until 2001, the same year the band decided to split. 

But in 2006, the Toadies were pleasantly surprised by the rapturous response at a reunion show in Dallas. Old and new fans seemed to know the words to all their songs. Initially meant as one last performance for old times’ sake, the show reinvigorated the group. They decided to reunite, and resumed touring and recording albums. Seeing the group perform live has become a rite of passage, of sorts, for Texans. 

 

 

The group’s new album, The Lower Side of Uptown is riff-driven, heavy, and gritty & it evolved organically. They started the show the way the LP starts w/ When I Die, the album’s title references a back door to heaven or, perhaps, just a way to sneak into the afterlife. 

Since their reformation, very little pop sensibility remains & wisely have abandoned most of that Pixies influence in favor of ZZ Top.
They sound newly possessed on the latest tracks & may be trying to get back to their roots of filthy rock with swagger to spare. I was super surprised to hear that they FINALLY properly recorded & released Broke Down Stupid, as track I haven't hear them perform since the Mad Hatter days back in Fort Worth around 1992. Another track that finally found it's footing is Mama Take Me Home which to my memory was only played once back in 1999 at Wes Bergen from Tripping Daisy's memorial under a working title of The Zeppy Song.

Now touring together, in an era of ’90s music revivals, the Toadies and Local H have a disarmingly explosive live show. 

Setlist - 

When I Die 
Happyface 
You'll Come Down 
No Deliverance 
Take Me Alive 
I Come From the Water 
Broke Down Stupid 
Summer of the Strange 
I Put a Spell on You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover) 
Song I Hate 
Possum Kingdom 
Mama Take Me Home 
Sweetness 
Tyler 
Hell Below / Stars Above 
 

Encore: 

Mexican Hairless 
Stop It (Pylon cover) 
I Burn

 


Opolis 15th Anniversary w/ Chainsaw Kittens - September 8th - Opolis Back Lot - Norman, OK 

Ok so this will take some unpacking: In the Summer that started the 90's through a magical string of events, I found myself reconnecting with some older friends I hadn't seen in almost 3 years (which is an eternity at that age). They were starting a band & their taste had changed dramatically. The whole world was changing & or certainly ready for one. We were still almost a full year out from the Nirvana onslaught so that feeling of underground was still very palpable. This was an exciting time of new experiences & no band was more the soundtrack to this transitional period than the Chainsaw Kittens who had just released their debut LP Violent Religion that was on constant rotation in my friends' cars & many (if not most) appeared on setlists of their burgeoning new band Anorexic Cafe's setlists.

They were everything that we needed them to be & more, new, relatively unknown, from up the road in Oklahoma, sexy, at times scary & totally out there. When we finally saw them perform with the Toadies at Mad Hatter's (see above) that Fall it was the goddamned moon landing. I only saw them perform once more about 5 years later in support of their debut for Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha's new label Scratchie Records that was supposed to be their next level business but fizzled out quickly & kinda gave the Kitten's that Best-Band-That-Never-Was thing.

So it was with great anticipation when I heard that they were gonna reform & do a show in their hometown of Norman in honor of Opolis 15th year Anniversary to get my ass up to Oklahoma to reconnect after all these years. I love these guys & will always be grateful to them for some of my most cherished memories & would never kick someone while they are down (long-time drummer Eric Harmon passed away at just age 48 this month) but for the sake of this article I have to freely admit that is where the fun ended.

 

My girlfriend & I make the trek across state lines - she completely oblivious to the band but up for an adventure with me. I reach for my copies of Violent Religion & it's pre-Nevermind Butch Vig produced follow-up 1992's Flipped Out in Singapore to bring her up to speed & this was the first sign of danger. I will ALWAYS cheer for these guys but I hadn't actively listened to these two LPs in at least 15 years or more & was taken aback how poorly both had held up overtime & found myself trying to defend them before we even had crossed the border.

By the time we make it to Norman (which was waaaay further than I had originally anticipated) I was beginning to not only rethink this whole trip but was becoming an asshole revisionist before my very eyes, where the early 90's not as magical as I remembered them? 
We pull up across from Opolis already armed with the knowledge this was gonna be an outdoor show but not realizing it was literally in the backlot of an alley. Whomever was onstage when we pulled up was truly the noisiest & most unwelcome greeting we could have imagined & so uncomfortably loud no matter who it was. All we wanted to do was go in the opposite direction of it's source. We opt for a quick sandwich & beer in a walkable little pub before getting over there to discover this was one of the most amateur setups in recent memories.
Imagine a makeshift stage in a parking lot with about 75 over 40 still wannabe hipsters that look like extras from Portlandia with a pair of Port-A-Shitters that were a death trap getting in & out of. I'm no snob but this was just deflating for this band that had once meant so much to me. It didn't help that my girl was ill & cranky but once they took stage their was no defending them any further.

Starting with an ill-advised pacing of the final & slowest track from Violent Religion She's Gone Mad again while leader Tyson Meade seated at what appeared to be a Casio keyboard looking like the director of student film on Fellini & it only got worse from there.
While I was pleased to hear songs like Bloodstorm & Mother (of the Ancient Birth) this was so super sad to see not only what a shell of their former selves they were but so bad that it truly made me ask the question: Was this band EVER good? I was in total identity crisis mode but didn't have time to dwell before the local boys in blue found all of this to be too much as well & shut it down for being TOO LOUD about a dozen songs in. The following setlist is accurate except they skipped Savior Boyfriend & the final song was Feel Like A Drugstore (which was awesome as that was always my fave song.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  
The Melvins - September 9th - Trees - Dallas,TX

Catching a Melvins show is always a good time proving that the band’s modus operandi of writing whatever the hell they want is widely appealing. Naturally, when you unite people from these various musical corners it creates an environment that never goes out of style.
Like 311 above (& probably the only thing they might have in common) the Melvin's have never stopped. Sure they go through bass players like socks but it's always calculated with an open-door policy & might I had that I feel the inclusion of Red Kross's Steven Mcdonald could just be their best yet.

 

 

Per usual, the Melvins were in the midst of an exhaustive world tour & it was a good night for Lysol fans as the band played half of the 1992 album opening with their cover of Flipper’s Sacrifice
Frontman and riff wizard Osborne donned his custom robe, emblazoned with a flashy spiral design on the chest and a bunched turtleneck-like attached garment made of the same material as the insignia. Stalking the stage, he swung his guitar around in awkward movements, which were matched by his jagged strides, lost in a world of high-level distortion and squealing feedback as the Melvins ripped through new and old songs.
The night was also marked by two more unique covers, one being David Bowie‘s Saviour Machine and the other coming from one of the Beatles‘ early hits, I Want to Hold Your Hand. Of course, these renditions deviated heavily from the originals, even turning the poppy Beatles cut into a mammoth performance.  
Closing out the set the way they began it, the Melvins sourced the final two songs of the night from Lysol, performing the album’s first pair of tracks, the drum-pulsing Hung Bunny and Roman Dog Bird.
There’s just something intangible about a Melvins gig; perhaps its the unpredictability of their set or the chance to marvel at a band who has found success completely on their own terms, defying standards every delightfully awkward step of the way.  

Set List –  

Sacrifice (Flipper cover)  
Oven 
Anaconda 
Queen  
The Kicking Machine 
Saviour Machine (David Bowie cover)  
It’s Shoved 
Scooba
I Want to Hold Your Hand (The Beatles cover)  
Euthanasia 
Edgar the Elephant 
Sober-delic (Acid Only) 
The Bit 
Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad 
AMAZON 
Hung Bunny (w/Spotlights)
Roman Dog Bird (w/Spotlights)

 


Hanson - September 12th - House Of Blues - Dallas, TX

Perhaps the first article in history to include both The Melvins & the Hanson brothers? 
Opening night of their Middle of Everywhere tour celebrating 25 years as band (if you can even believe that).

Being the best big brother to my little sister I can be, a tradition since 1998 when she a mere 13 years of age is that I take her to see her favorite band Hanson - an obsession of most 13 year old girls in 1998. What started as a duty soon became a pleasure as by the second or third time we went I looked forward to not only how happy the shows made her but also how much I genuinely enjoyed the music & performance. I'm pleased to say 19 years later it's a tradition we keep with the same anxious anticipation. 

 

What followed was a 28 song over 2+ hours journey of music & memories & fun & laughter as all of the songs were performed flawlessly with the perfect pacing. 
Kicking the show back into gear with I Was Born, the latest song to have been released, this track is a great crowd participation song with everyone fist pumping the air and yelling “BEFORE!”. Another few songs roll out before we hear the unmissable intro for MMM Bop, the crowd cheers excitedly. An acapella section featuring Rockin’ Robin paves the way for a Chuck Berry dedication of Johnny B Goode. 
The last time we saw them was earlier this year in Austin for SXSW the day (moments even) that sadly Chuck Berry passed away.

25 years & still going strong & FINALLY a new Christmas album is expected later this month!

Setlist - 

Already Home 
Waiting For This 
Where's The Love 
Look At You 
Tragic Symphony 
Thinking 'Bout Somethin' 
And I Waited 
A Minute Without You 
This Time Around 
Weird 
Go 
Madeline 
Juliet 
Strong Enough To Break 
Penny and Me 
Watch Over Me 
With You In Your Dreams 
On and On 
I Was Born 
Man From Milwaukee 
Hey 
MMMBop 
If Only 
Fired Up 
In The City 

Encore: 

Rockin Robin 
Johnny B Goode 
I Don't Want To Go Home

 

 

Photos

Roy Turner
Lex Voight
Gabriel Olsen
Cherri Bird
Jeremy Hallock

 

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