Review of Wednesday May 26 show in Dallas

Review by Chris Howeth (Switch to

The set list was basically the same as the other shows, though my friend insisted on the way home, as we were listening to the Liars cd that they played Living' Well, to begin with, this was my "initiation" for a Todd show. I have always said that truth is experience, and that you can't base it upon other reviews or opinions. That being said, up until a few years ago I thought Todd was just a guy who sang Hello It's Me, and thought Utopia was just a state of one's imagination. I'd heard a buzz a few months ago about a new studio album, and after reading some of the harshest critics give positive rants about it, I went in halves with my friend and bought the CD. This for me was an extreme gamble, as I usually don't buy anything for just one or two songs. But we listened, we learned, we bought our tickets to the show. Having been a young pup all of 29 years old and never seen Todd or Utopia live, this was everything I could have hoped for and more. I'm always weary of going to concerts here in the metroplex, because the majority of them are in Dallas, which I avoid like the plague due to various reasons, traffic mostly. Luckily my musician friend, Mark, knew where the Gypsy Tea Room was, having played at a club across the street a few months prior to the show. The drive in was a piece of cake and parking was no sweat. So after I shoved 150 quarters into the meter, we walked maybe 2 blocks over and got in line. I saw several people carrying some sort of memorabilia with them, hoping to get autographs and meet the band. There were definitely a few freaks there, but we all were on the sidewalk. We walked in and sat at a table in the back that looked like some sort of guest/reserve section. Mark went off to the restrooms, and I started chatting with some people that sat down next to me. It's great to see other Todd/Utopia fans, and know I'm not alone in the universe. One of them mentioned that there was a man on the other side of the bar waving his arms, and it was Mark trying to cue me to come over to a better POV, probably less than 30 feet from the center of the stage. This is where we stood for the entire show, our views unobstructed for the most part, except for passers-by. Some sort of Hare Krishna/Indian music was playing in the background. It seemed like an eternity that I waited'.and waited'.and waited'.for the Truth. The song began with a prerecorded track, and then the band members made their entrance, from my left to right was Prairie, Kasim, Todd in front, Jesse, and John. The stage was set with a terrific lighting system, consisting of tube lights behind translucent sheets, and four or five archways. I thought Jesse filled in the guitar parts well throughout the show, although Mammon at times was almost over the top with the leads. The drums, particularly the snare, sounded awesome. I've been to far too many shows in places with rafters like the Tea Room, and seen too many amateur sound people get lost in the acoustics. This was definitely not the case. Fascist Christ and ISP were delivered in terrific force, and it seemed as the show went on with every song, the band got tighter and tighter. After about four songs in, Todd thanked Dallas for finally "giving him a decent place to play, and moving him out of the bowling alley."(The reviews I read for the last show he played here at the Canyon Club said it was dreadful.) Todd false started only once through Beloved Infidel, unhappy with the sound. I was awed by the Green Onions jam session, and at one point(I believe during Soul Brother), everyone took turns playing a solo, and I heard Kasim go into the first measure of Hammer In My Heart during his, which quickly got a lot of "Hell Yeahs" out of the crowd. The song orders get a little cloudy for me at this point, because I was more enthralled by what was going on stage. Todd introduced the band as the Jetsons, telling the crowd that Kasim was daughter Judy, and he used to be a woman. He asked who left the dime on stage, because the guys "turned on it" during one of his exits. I enjoyed the skit about him dazing off at the microphone, saying "father so-and-so'why are you touching me there'"and then waking up and realizing "He was the middle of a priest sandwich." Before the band came out for its encore, I told Mark what they were going to play. He kept telling me to shut up and that they were going to break out Last of the New Wave Riders and Under the Ice'.I told him to lay off the acid, and that it would never happen. They played Hello It's Me, and then went offstage. The crowd roared and they came back and played Just One Victory, which I have to agree with some of the previous reviews is much better live. By this time my feet were killing me, but it was all worth it. So we hung around at the bar as they started folding up the seats and cleaning up, and then the staff moved a velvet rope over to the left side of the stage. This part was a completely new experience for me, standing around waiting to catch a glimpse of the musicians. Jesse and John came out first and talked with a few people. We probably stood there for at least 20 minutes or so, and then this short man with glasses and a beige light jacket comes out and starts talking to people. It took me a few minutes to realize it was Kasim. I'm waiting in line with my CD cover in hand, thinking maybe, just maybe I might get to meet him and get an autograph. Then a tall man in a yellow dress shirt walks over the rope and right up to Kasim, and has him sign his shirt. The more we stood there, the more anxious I became. Finally we walked over to where a few others were standing. Kasim was within arms reach, and talking to a couple about their new car, etc. Then he was distracted by a fan, turned towards us asking where the couple went, and then saw them and said "Show me your car, I want to see it."'"But you've got these people waiting."'"No, it's ok, come on, let's go see it'" and Bam! Just like that he was gone, out the side door. You can imagine how deflated I felt being that close, and yet feeling so far away. Mark lit up a cigarette, with all intentions of us leaving by the time it was done. Suddenly some people convened over by the hallway that connects to the other side of the club, and were yelling "Todd!" apparently seeing him walk backstage, but TR never came out. Mark went to the restroom when, out of the side of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a short man with glasses and a beige jacket coming back in the side door.

"Hey Kasim, would you mind signing this for me?"

"Not a problem, how are you doing?"

"Great, fantastic show, appreciate it very much"(temporary loss of words)

Handshake, "Thanks, I appreciate it"

"Thank you, it was nice meeting you"

Kasim stands and says a few more goodbyes,

"Hey Kasim, a quick question"

I then went into this babbling about how I wasn't sure if he remembered but I had emailed him last summer asking him about the availability of the Utopia remasters in the states. He mentioned that they should be, but that the CD I had was definitely out of print. It felt like an eternity, but suddenly Mark showed up, and I introduced him. Kasim obliged and signed a shirt for him that I had homemade the night before. Mark asked if he remembered playing at Texas Hall'"What year?" "'77" ", no..(laughs)" We then exchanged a few more words, shook hands and said goodbye. I waited until we got about halfway to the exit, then looked at Mark and did a fist pump, then slid my cover of Oblivion, POV & Some Trivia back into the CD case, and walked out a happy man. Thanks again guys, terrific show, can't say enough about it'the truth is sweet.

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5/26/2004 - TBA - San Antonio, TX

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