So, we hie ourselves over to the House of Blues as previously indicated, to experience the joys of Getting Into a Gig In Dallas.
1) Join line.
2) Collect wristband for being over 21, so we can purchase alcoholic drinks. (given the average age of the crowd was about 14 this might actually be a good idea)
3) Get searched airline-style; empty pockets, Security Bloke waves magic wand over you. Alan empties his pockets which are filled, as usual, with keys,change,knife,wallet,more keys,bits of the Berlin Wall etc. Knife ends up in bin, to much aghastness; naturally they can't hold it for us until after the gig, that would be far too convenient.
4) Security Bloke has to search bags too of course. I asked him what he's looking for. Professional cameras and pens. Pens?! Yup, in case you draw all over the artwork inside the venue. Right...
5) Show tickets. (and we don't do this first because...?)
6) Get beer.
7) (optional, but the just rewards of getting there so damn early) Get seat! Woo! We don't have to stand about for five hours!
Then of course we sit through two support bands before the act we have come to see arrives on stage. The first lot were meant to be the Black Dahlia Murder although Alan wasn't convinced they were the same chaps as he'd seen online. They were a bit ropey but the second lot - Between the Buried and Me - were OK. Children of Bodom were very good, their set was a bit short but the musicianship was good. I have no notion of what they were singing about, this is a Death Metal band after all and intelligibility comes second to raw sound. Of which there was lots.
Top marks to House of Blues here, for their PA system was actually very well set up and was a pleasure to listen to. Please take note, La Zona Rosa in Austin; when we saw Squeeze and Fastball there the other week, an otherwise good concert was destroyed by the appallingness of the PA!!
Minus a point or two for the freezing cold air conditioning, even Alan got cold and that is saying something! Alan ignored the cold by ogling the extremely fancy Soundcraft mixing desk, lit up in bright colours and with LCD screens instead of endless rows of knobs, very swish if you like that sort of thing.
Children of Bodom brought their own lighting too, lots of forward facing extremely bright strobes which started making me want to sneeze. I had a stonking cold this last couple of days, and I also have photic sneeze reflex (don't laugh, you might well have it too) so these bloody lights were having an effect and I'm probably the saddest git in the building watching the gig with sunshades on. I don't care, they worked!
So we escaped unscathed after a mostly enjoyable evening. Round 1 complete!
~~~~ Happy interlude ~~~~~
Friday was mostly spent at the zoo! We took a tram (Dallas has trams!) a few stops down the line to Dallas Zoo which is supposedly the biggest zoological experience in Texas, and it was very good indeed. Lots of really very large enclosures for the animals, and a good variety of those. And even a monorail ride to keep Alan happy!
We repaired back to the hotel and eventually ended up in the West End Pub again (top marks to them for remembering what we were drinking from the night before) and enjoyed our beers, before trying the barbeque place round the corner.
~~~~ Round 2 ~~~~
And so we find ourselves approaching the House of Blues again for the second night. Proceedings went in a similar vein to the night before. Security Bloke seemed surprised we had come back but was pleased we had done so. The bar staff had changed around so the girl waiting tables recognised us from the bar the previous night. Dang!
We kicked off with The Willowz, who were from California and a little, well, young; really. They were OK-ish but had some work to do.
Next up were the Eagles of Death Metal which a lot of people seemed to recognise. This lot were a bit of an experience. The singer looked like he was straight out of a 70's porn movie, complete with dodgy moustache. He totally hammed it up all night which was most amusing. They didn't play any death metal; it was pretty straight rock and not bad either. I'd see them again.
And finally, the one we were waiting for: The Hives! Out they bounced, all dressed in matching black-and-white blazers and suits, and proceeded to pound us all night with the coolest, rock-solidest beats; this is punk you can dance to. Maybe you know their tune 'Tick Tick Boom'. They hammered down the tunes and were really tight as a band. Very cool stuff. I am noticing on the Wikipedia entry it says they are known for their "hilarious self-glorification"; yup, I'd go with that, the singer was laying it on thick all evening to a most amusing degree!
Alan and I always say the bands we enjoy most are the ones who look like they are having a good time on stage (Rush; Shiny Toy Guns are other examples) - I'd say The Hives belong there, they were well worth the trip.