It takes a LOT for me to get up off my sorry ass for any type of festival in this day and age. There had better be some seriously rockin’ and/or ferocious bands on the bill for me to spend all friggin’ day out in the Texas sun at Gexa Energy Pavilion, savvy? So when 97.1 The Eagle made the announcement way back when about this year’s annual BFD event taking place on June 1 I was beyond excited because there were five bands out of nine that I was really amped to see live either for the first time (STEEL PANTHER, NOTHING MORE) or again (TOM KEIFER, THE PRETTY RECKLESS, POP EVIL). The fact that it was only early June and not yet into the sweltering days of summer only made it more enticing. Originally about seven or eight of us were going to meet up but as is usually the case, people started dropping like flies closer to the show day. No matter, I had a blast rocking out with my buddies Hannah, Ryan, and of course, Jordan from Darkhouse Image.
Due to some box office issues I unfortunately missed all of NOTHING MORE’S set, save for one song. The San Antonio band is making serious waves all over the place and missing them kind of sucked. I hope I get the chance soon to see just what everyone is raving about. I found my usual spot on the lawn and waited for TOM KEIFER.
Before I knew it the familiar strains of “Night Songs” came from the stage and we were off and running. For those of you who don’t know, Tom is touring behind his decade-in-the-making solo record The Way Life Goes, released last year. If you don’t have it, GO GET IT!! “It’s Not Enough” was the first of two cuts he would share with us, the other being “Solid Ground”.
The rest of his set was solid CINDERELLA classics like “Somebody Save Me” and “Shelter Me”, along with “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)” featuring Tom’s wife, described by Tom as his better half, Savannah which started as an acoustic number before going full on electric and bleeding into “Nobody’s Fool”. This may just be the best version of this one I’ve heard since 1999’s Live at the Key Club record. An interesting curveball was a cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends” that was a perfect bluesy jam for this day and closer “Gypsy Road” had us faithful up and moving. I really hope he comes back for another full show like he did last year.
Up next was THE PRETTY RECKLESSS. Full disclosure, I was NOT impressed with them last time around. There was almost nothing going on visually, and singer Taylor Momsen just looked disinterested, quite frankly. Well, something must have gotten into them this time around, or maybe it’s the sheer asskickery of the songs from new album Going to Hell because there was definitely a lot more happening. Well…as much as can be happening at 4pm in daylight hours. Either way, the band sounded really good and Taylor seemed to be enjoying herself for a change. Songs like “Follow Me Down”, “Sweet Things”, and “Fucked Up World” had just the right blend of rock star attitude and the sound was killer.
“Since You’re Gone” was the lone number from 2010’s Light Me Up album, and latest single “Heaven Knows” was decidedly more garage rock than its studio counterpart. I have to say, studio version is better, even though they did a decent job, with Taylor adding more rasp to the vocals, maybe a bit too much. And just like that, after six songs, they were gone.
Without a doubt the band I was MOST excited to see this day was POP EVIL. I was already a fan, but after a pre-show interview with drummer Chachi Riot back in February and a gig where they blew headliner STONE SOUR off the stage at House of Blues Dallas I have become borderline obsessed. Seeing the truckload of success this band has achieved with this new album Onyx (THREE #1 singles!!) has made me so happy, and their start time couldn’t get here fast enough. Opening with one of my favorites off of Onyx, “Flawed” the boys wasted no time fucking around. They were on a mission from note one, hitting us with older tunes “Hero” and “Boss’s Daughter” then bringing it back to the new record for “Goodbye My Friend”, album opener and all-around badass tune! Chachi seemed to be everywhere at once, alternating between standing and sitting while beating the shit out of his kit.
The rocking horse rhythm of “Sick Sense” was followed by current #1 hit “Torn to Pieces” which had one of the loudest responses/sing-alongs of the day.
And then it was time…time for my goddamn favorite POP EVIL song in all of creation: “Deal With the Devil” Singer Leigh Kakaty challenged all of the sitters on the lawn, “How about you stand the fuck up, this is a rock ‘n’ roll show!” and bassist Matt DiRito whipped his hair around like a man possessed! P.S. I lost my fucking voice screaming along to this one and will likely be doing so once again whenever they stop teasing and make their big fall tour announcement that hopefully includes another Dallas stop. Horns flew high for “Last Man Standing” and closer “Trenches”, both of which are essential for ANY POP EVIL playlist. After this powerhouse set I was exhausted. This worked out well because I had zero interest in the next three bands and needed the time to recharge.
Admittedly KILLSWITCH ENGAGE wasn’t horrible, but HELLYEAH sure as shit was. Their brand of trailer park redneck metal seriously makes my skin crawl and my head hurt, and I guaran-damn-tee you that if Vinnie Paul and Chad Grey weren’t in this band they’d be nowhere near as popular as they are. Longest 45 minutes of my life, oy! THEORY OF A DEADMAN was okay, and that’s about it. They were clearly in the wrong time slot because all the energy at Gexa seemed to go away during their set. I have to say though, that the new tunes from upcoming record Savages definitely sound promising.
Finally, three hours after my POP EVIL boys bid farewell to Dallas it was STEEL PANTHER’S turn at bat. First, let me say this: I LOVE this band, but man, were they on the WRONG bill. The drunken rednecks who had been steady filing in since 5pm had a collective look about them that I can only describe as “What the fuck is this shit?!?” No matter, we had an absolute ball rocking and laughing our asses off to songs like “17 Girls in a Row”, and “Gloryhole”. After opener “Eyes of a Panther” the guys went right into “Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World” (great tune!) and then a roughly 10-minute band intro/stand-up comedy routine that had us in stitches. Right after this was “Gangbang at the Old Folks Home”, which is a favorite in the A&GS household for sure!
A double shot from Feel the Steel closed things out, starting with “Community Property” and then “Death to All But Metal”. The former has the glorious refrain of “My heart belongs to you, But my cock is community property” and the latter skewers a whole bunch of no-talent bands/artists from PAPA ROACH to 50 Cent (Christ, I dunno who’s worse!). When it was over I asked Hannah what she thought and she simply asked, “Where IS this anymore?? Where is this greatness, the SHOW in today’s bands?!?” The girl’s wise beyond her years, I tell ya. All I know is this was the perfect way to end my night at BFD. It’s a long day, but just like last year I had a fucking blast, and am already looking forward to next year!! ~dc