This past Friday I took my time getting to Rudyard's for the Dead Roses/Pierced Arrows show because it's Rudyard's and things there always start a little late, but I figured even moreso that night because the Astros game had gone into extra innings and if you have ever been to a show at Rudz you understand that sound guy, Joe Omelchuck, won't even look at a mic-stand until the final out of the latest 'Stros drubbing.
But even getting there a little late we were still a little early. One of the bands canceled, roots-rock/Americana band Orange Is In, which was fine by me. It didn't mean the show would start any earlier but ensured some continuity between the two sets. And oh, what sets they were.
During the sound check this one girl -- very good looking, tight black tank top, tight dark jeans -- was either drunk or batshit-insane, but probably both. First, she was doing this groovy hippie dance to a monotonous drum-check and my friend turned to me and raised his eyebrows in smug condescension. Then, after one of the guitarists went through a basic scale, crazy-girl dropped to the floor and began fervently and luridly humping air -- hands behind her, feet toward stage, bucking like a flipped-over bronco on crack at a Flashdance rehearsal. I shit you not.
My usually dour friend then turned to me and openly laughed. I tried to look away from the unholy scene, but when I did I saw another girl right next to me dressed like the sluttiest librarian you could ever hope to late-fee you. She was in the middle of a flirtatious argument with the nattily-attired dude with her about how drunk she was going to get. The night, across the board, was ripening with possibilities.
Dead Roses took the stage and said, "Hello Cleveland!" to a good and decent crowd -- large enough to block the view of the stage and everyone up front looked to be totally loaded and having fun.
Dead Roses doesn't want to be the best original rock band in town, they want to be the best in the world. Fortunately for them, they have the songs, the chops and the right amount of mascara to pull it off. Unfortunately for them, Houston usually doesn't always want to back them up. But tonight was not one of those nights; right from the intro guitar-distortion the crowd was into it. Plus, Matt Frey was back behind the drums (Dead Roses had been going through a drum machine at some shows lately) and, not only is he a KILLER drummer, he urges the band to play faster and with more enthusiasm.
Two songs into it I notice both crazy-gurls, the Spanish-Flybrarian and Jennifer Humping Air, bookending both sides of the stage. Humping-Air then started menacing through the crowd looking like, to us at least, she was trying to start a mid-eighties, straight-edge circle pit. I'm not sure what happened next, but, apparently Flybrarian didn't like the batshit-insane-o competition and before we knew it we had a full-on sexy, hair-pulling cat-fight front and center of the Dead Roses set. Necks craned or people sitting stood up like at a ball-game when good wood hits the ball with a snap. The band simply played on as both women eventually were tossed. Personally, I would have given them each another chance. Sure, you know the same shit would've happened again, probably even worse, but when it comes to two women rolling around on top of each other, glowing brightly, I tend to err on the side of the second chance, ya know?
Dead Roses rode the momentum throughout. Played the Pagans' What's This Shit Called Love and all their own hits, or would be hits in another city or another time. Something the Pieced Arrows understand and appreciate, I'm sure. Co-founders of the band (as well as seminal acts Dead Moon and the Rats) Fred and Toody Cole both watched Dead Roses' set with smiling, head-nodding approval. The last time the Pierced Arrows played town, it was to a crowd of four people. And last Friday I doubt they noticed or even cared that the crowd had now swelled up to around ten. I know it's not good for the town, the bar or the band, but for the audience that night, it was a show to take heart and remember. Pierced Arrows played furiously, aided by a powerful new drummer (dude from Severed Head of State) and from 30+ years of writing and playing songs -- the rare band that never stopped playing for the love of doing so. Both bands, in fact, seem to be keeping the rock-n-roll faith in ways that should have put each at the head of the biggest fucking congregation since the Oasis of Love bought the Summit.
And if you lament this fact, or just would like to see a good rock show, the way rock was meant to be played, and played as good as ANY band in town (or, as Ralph Armin would claim, THE WORLD) then have I got a proposition for you. This coming Friday, again at Rudyard's, Dead Roses will be having a co-record release party with a band of young guns called the Wrong Ones. Dead Roses have been around for a while but have never had any recordings to offer. This, their first 7", pulses and throbs with pent-up aggression. This is what you get for waiting too long to put out a record -- a double "A-side" stomper. One fast, one slow, both top notch.
The Wrong Ones come from the other side of the spectrum: brand-new noise that sounds crazy, the kind of stuff that makes record collectors and Ugly Things-magazine nerds shiver nervously while listening; like when you can't stop touching that damaged and painful tooth 'cause it hurts so good.
Eight dollars you will get both limited-release 7"-inch records off of Houston's own Ditchwater Records. Ditchwater (along with Dullknife) is one of the best things to happen to the Houston music scene in long while so, please, do yourself a favor, get to Rudyard's Friday, get two records, two sets of Great American Rock-N-Roll, get loaded, and, hopefully get to see another bat-shit crazy, hot-chick expo. Keep the faith.
Dead Roses and Wrong Ones record release party. 10 p.m. Friday. $8. Rudyard's.