by: Thomas D. Mooney
You’re still in Texas.
The massive Lone Star beer sign backing the stage reaffirms the notion if you forgot as you weaved through the tight quarters of the Depot OBar on Thursday night.
People tend to forget about Lubbock’s indie rock scene. Some don’t realize the existence of bands like Ivory & Ash, Veda Moon, Sugarwitch, Slow Relics, or the handful of others that don’t revolve around the alt-country sound that’s rising through the city. Some choose to ignore it altogether.
It seems like in recent years, the scene has all but dried up, primarily to the lack of music venues that’ll accommodate. It’s a shrinking list. They decide to go on another direction. They close shop. Get shut down. Etc.
The complete shutdown of KTXT a few years back didn’t help matters. Middle Child Records worked as a glue for a couple of years before losing its’ hold. Ultimately, the DIY group called it quits after some inner politics and burnout. And even though the college station is back and running with full steam, the entire process is like building after a fire. The forest went ablaze and only a few bands carried on the struggle.
A healthy flock of music seekers find the almost forgotten dive bar at the end of the dead-end street hugging a corridor of Interstate 27. It’s a darkened the cul-de-sac. The bathroom has numerous anti-Kyle scrawlings. A few #FuckKyles and one http://www.fuckkyle.com (the domain is still available for purchase FYI). A small patio add-on holds a handful of smokers sitting at two unsanded picnic tables.They’re drinking Lone Star tall boys.
Logan Moore, the drummer for the rockabillying Sugarwitch, mentions how you rationalize the 16 ounce cans. “Well…I mean, I’ve really only had two beers. Yes, it’s almost same amount as three bottles…” In that way, your mind tricks you. You’ll really start feeling it around the fourth.
Ronnie Eaton makes his way over. Lucky for him, he’s here and not in Midland opening for a shrinking tribe of trailer decals.
The night is Ivory & Ash’s release show for their latest EP, the pessimistically titled This Is For Nothing, This Is For No One. The four-piece rockers have a table full of homemade copies in simple, effective cardboard sleeves with Ivory & Ash printed on. They’re giving them away with the price of admission.
I&A guitarist Jon Seaborn says the release was a bit of a last-minute decision. They’ve been writing and recording the follow-up to God Bless Your Bloody Ears off and on for the last couple years.
Despite being a “Maybe we should get something out because it’s been three years since our last new music” release, it doesn’t feel like a desperate attempt at staying relevant. It’s not just an appeasement to fans relentlessly asking for something. Anything.
In a way, the band sounds like a completely new and different band. It’s by far their most refined and structured music to date. There’s still elements of pop-punk, but the whole thing is heavier. The piercing guitars. The clashing cymbals. There’s more fine points with each song.
Example: On “Thoughts,” it feels as though the band is working within a certain amount of space. But at times, the guitars float above. They don’t sound out of place or anything, but they do add a light elegance to an overall gritty, roaring anthem.
They take the stage a few hours later. A few roars of people create a maze to the stage. A cluster of girls stand close to the right of the stage. Flickering lights replace the pulsing red lights on stage. Back and forth they go. A smoke machine shoots some artificial ambience into the room every five minutes or so.
I&A–the aforementioned Seaborn, lead vocalist Race Henry, drummer DeVon Fields, and bassist Chris Beatty–they look like they could be doing some work as extras on Game of Thrones (especially if Seaborn grew out a full beard again).
Henry is in a self-cut t-shirt you’d see on someone doing curls in the fishbowl section of your local fitness center. In short, he’s the late ’80s version of Springsteen in the Lubbock music scene. He puts us all to shame. Still, he’s not delivering brooding monotones in the microphone. There’s still the proper amount of angst in his vocals–where there’s a squawking high tone that hovers near, but never crosses, the emotional crack in a voice.
Goners bandleader Heath Tolleson shouldn’t be here, but is. Long story short, he purchased tickets to see Ryan Adams at Red Rocks, but wasn’t able to make it. This is a pretty solid backup plan. He leans over and says he feels like working out now. The intense, raw energy emitting from the stage is enough to motivate everyone in the audience to running a mile post performance.
It revs and spurs.
People pull their vehicles out in small groups as the night gradually ends. You hear the new EP soaring off in the distance as they hit 19th street searching for one last glimpse of an Ivory & Ash roar.