My Saturday started as all of the good ones do.... at 4 pm. Having finally pulled my lazy carcass out of bed and washed off the smoke and alcohol from the night before, I was ready to hit downtown and start the cycle all over again. After a delicious meal and margarita at El Guapo's, the rest of the We Are Tulsa Music crew and myself headed on down to the Vanguard.
We made it through the doors shortly after the first act of the night went on. So we got the pleasure of starting the show off by listening to Weston Horn & The Hush (or as The Pawn Shop Heroes would later jokingly call them, Weston Horn and the Shut Your Mouth's). If you've never got a chance to go see these
guys live, you're truly missing out . Their recordings, while marvelously mastered, don't do them the justice they deserve compared to seeing them on stage. They deliver all the gusto and energy you'd expect from an 8 piece band. They've shined brilliantly this year as well. In this year alone they played at the Axis Stage at Rocklahoma (was fortunate enough to catch them there myself), recorded an album, made an appearance on News Channel 8 and released a music video for their song "Just Can't Stop" that managed to wrangle in over 66 thousand views since being released in late May. They've definitely rose through the ranks quickly and when they come out and put on performances like they did at the Vanguard it's no wonder why.
With the whole band clad in white collars and black ties, they opened up their performance with the song "She Had It All" (you can watch a performance of this song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_efAblM2sio ). That set the stage for the high pace energy and quality of showmanship every other band would have to match for the rest of the evening. Weston Horn's melodic voice has such a bluesy timbre to it and he does a fantastic job in bringing what feels like, to this writer anyway, a 1920s swing style to the whole vibe. Of course, this feeling that came over me may be in part to the work of the brass section made up of Chris Seiler and Drew Thomas on the saxophones along with Alan Sandoval and Nathan Hairston on horns. They even had the old style podiums adorned with the band logo, reminiscent of what the players in big bands would stand behind. Expertly placed throughout the night, whether in support of the rhythm or playing their own solos, the saxophones and horns added a flavor to the uniqueness throughout the set. Weston and Barrett Lewis held down the guitars and complimented each other well. While Weston played more rhythm along with his lead vocal duties, Barrett showed off his own knowledge of the in and outs of a fretboard. His fingers made his Stratocaster wail magnificently. And the two pillars of the rhythm section, Mat Donaldson on drums and Steve Snyder on bass guitar, are what really tie the whole shindig together as they bring the funk to the mix. These two held down the tempos wonderfully and kept everyone on cue. Not only that but the way Steve climbed between notes on the bass and how Mat made his transitional rolls, while they may go somewhat unnoticed to others, were well appreciated by myself. In their set's finale, Just Can't Stop, Weston Horn & The Hush let it all hang out and gave everyone in the band at least a few moments to shine as they all traded off quick solos during the song.
Next up for the evening was Pawn Shop Heroes. Having become a staple in the punk community here in Tulsa, PSH has become a sought after act and have made appearances out of state on a mini tour this year. Their album, "Fuck you, Karen" (available on Bandcamp or at any of their shows in CD and digital formats) was well received after it's release late last year and has even had air time on radio stations in the area, such as KMOD. This four piece is soon to begin work on a new album and their set included many of the songs that will be featured on the future work. While Weston Horn & The Hush may have got the Vanguard's energy high to start the night, PSH kicked it into overdrive. It was obvious from the
moment they took the stage til they left that they were having a great time just being their normal, odd selves on stage. Even a broken guitar string about halfway through the set couldn't stop them as they had another guitar ready to go and kept moving right along. PSH tested the mettle of their new drummer, PC Hance, by coming out of the gates running with a new song, "Where Are They Now?". Fast paced, loud, and a calamity of sounds that all seem to work together....well, as punk as it gets. In what I believe is the biggest stage PC has played on yet with PSH, he performed at the level that has been expected of him since his audition. He showed a mastery of the art of drumming in terms of precision on the set. Jimmy "McFilth" Dale on the bass laid down the heavy along with his vocals during their set. The sound of his bass is unmistakeable as he played with a distortion that's a staple of the punk rock genre. His real moments on Saturday where he stood out were when he was allowed solo work, as he shows his true worth outside of just tempo keeper, and when he was bantering off script (an art he's mastered). Opposite stage of Jimmy is Justin Lloyd and Jason Emerson who also do vocals and share guitar duties. This is the largest stage I've had a chance to watch PSH on and Justin took complete advantage in exploring the space that was afforded to him. He was all over the place in his corner of the stage, constantly in motion. And yet he never missed a lick. The song in which he gets the greatest limelight is
"For The Better". With catchy lyrics he sings and a memorable lead guitar for the duration of the song, Justin's performance on this "closest to pop-punk ballad" of the PSH on Saturday had quite a few in the audience singing along. And Jason, who's no slouch on the guitar either, had the most unique and noticeable voice of the three of them sharing the mic. This may've been the first time I've seen them where Jason wasn't completing the feat of smoking a cigarette, playing guitar and singing all without taking the cigarette from his lip too. But his talents don't end there. Jason was getting after his guitar strings at an unbelievably breakneck pace. Everything he laid down sounded meticulously practiced. In the past year of watching PSH, this is one was easily one of the best performances they've had.
This review will is... To Be Continued. After beginning this article, I didn't realize I'd have as much to say about the night as I have. However, I will post the remainder of the review tomorrow summing up the work of Wither and The Normandys.
You can look up both Weston Horn & The Hush and Pawn Shop Heroes on Reverbnation and Facebook.