There are no shortage of rock bands from the 90’s still making albums and touring today. That said, it is rare for a band from that era to release arguably their best album more than 2 decades later. The Fort Worth, Texas quartet have done just that on The Lower Side of Uptown.
The Toadies are the band that released “Possum Kingdom” in 1994 with kids in the throes of grunge chanting the ear worm chorus “Do you wanna die”. But the band was, and is, so much more than that, and have flown under the radar for the better part of 25 years. Multiple labels, records, and constant touring have helped the band carve our a sound all their own; part punk, part metal, and all Texas.
Toadies – June 14th – ROC, Madeira State Park, Madeira Beach, Florida
Written By: Brian Furman
Fort Worth, Texas’s The Toadies are alt-rock stalwarts. Their mega-hit “Possum Kingdom” has transcended to rock greatness with their record Rubberneck arguably one of the best of that 90’s era if not of alt-rock entirely. While they have put out great music after Rubberneck, it has largely gone unnoticed unless by die-hard fans…which is a damn shame.
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So… I was super excited to hear The Toadies were added to the 2015 Summerland Music Festival bill which unfortunately has been overlooked as far as the festivals tours go, and has fallen to the depths of deep 90’s nostalgia. Which again, is a damn shame because there were truly rockin’ bands at the festival: Fuel, American Hi-Fi, and Everclear to name a few, all multi-platinum selling artists in a time when that mattered. But The Toadies were the ones that most in attendance couldn’t wait to see, and they proved worthy enough for us all to bake in the Florida heat.
Frontman, Vaden Todd Lewis, still the skinny powerhouse of a singer that melded a high-pitched southern growl with commanding control, sounded as if he walked through a wormhole straight from 1995. The rest of the band followed suit delivering brutal renditions of Rubberneck classics: “Backslider”, “I Come From the Water” and “Possum Kingdom” driving the crowd to ask each other “Do you want to die” in dramatic fashion….with tongue firmly in cheek.
The band delivered on “No Deliverance” the title track from the album of the same name with both the rhythm section of Doni Blair and Mark Reznicek rocking out as hard as the crowd. “Little Sin” and “Heel” from Hell Above/Stars Below showcased the grossly underrated sophomore album. Lewis and lead guitarist Clark Vogeler never wavering, playing off each other, not with great technical skill but with a mastery of the constant feedback filling the gaps playfully underneath each song.
Unfortunately for the crowd, they played a shortened set due to the festival lineup, but were able to include a new song “In the Belly of the Whale” which could have fit nicely as a B-side on Rubberneck. The song seemed a throwback to a slowed version of Texas boogie combined with a Halloween feel that the crowd took quick notice of.
The band all seemed to be generally having a good time with Lewis quipping at one point “We play to 0 people in our hometown of Fort Worth, and we come to Florida to play for 1,000 so we like it here”. “Rattler’s Revival” followed after Lewis told the crowd he felt like dancing and they were going to have to help him. The catchy tune did not feature the brass section on the recording, but the live version wasn’t missing anything with Blair and Vogeler filling in nicely.
They even payed homage to Texas heroes ZZ Top playing the beginning licks of the classic “La Grange” before seamlessly walking the intro, highlight of the set, and fan favorite “Tyler” from Rubberneck, arguably the best song they have in their arsenal. The energy only seemed to ramp up during the last minute scream of Lewis rasping the story of a man breaking into a woman’s house and fumbling to her bedroom commanding “I will be with her tonight” Lewis and the entire crowd chanted the narrative in unison, in the brutal Tampa sun.
It almost felt as if the band was validated by the amount of people that knew who they were, and I find that absolutely astonishing. For those who are reading this and know nothing of the band, go to the local record store and pick up a used copy of Rubberneck. Listen to the record from beginning to end, as a record should be listened too, and then Thank Us in the comments section. It will be well worth it.
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