Written by James Dillon
Feb 20, 2009 at 09:00 PM
ImageOn Friday, February 20th And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead played twice in Houston. Since I have been wanting to see the band for a few years now I figured I could make up for missing them the past few times. Unfortunately it just resulted in me being disappointed twice in the same day.

The first set they played was an acoustic show at Cactus Records. The allure of a free …Trail of Dead show was pretty strong. The promise of free beer made it all the harder to turn down. The stripped down,acoustic sound just doesn’t work for a band like Trail of Dead. The group only played a few songs but managed to work in a shaky version of “Benny and the Jets” into the short set list for fans and Cactus customers alike. After finishing my beer, my friends and I made the short walk back home to get ready to see them at Walter’s a few hours later.

By the time I found parking at Walter’s on Washington (in case you haven’t been lately, parking at the church is a no-go these days. And all the yuppie condos and bars have taken all the parking spots) the first band had already finished the group The Funeral Party was playing. I was immediately impressed with the energy being spent on the tiny stage. The music is what the Walkmen would sound like if they were determined to make everyone dance. The group utilized extra percussion perfectly and the singer was manic and spastic as he delivered his lyrics.

As the group’s set went on the tiny venue filled until it was packed and by the time the band got the audience they deserved it was time for them to finish. Trail of Dead took a good while to set up, but this is understandable considering how many people had to get all their gear onto the stage. Two drum sets isn’t an easy fit at Walter’s.

Trail of Dead did something at Walter’s that I have never seen before and that was an attempted lighting show with the venues “lighting setup”. As much as I enjoy a good light show, and Walter’s, it just isn’t the place to do it.

Attempted lighting show aside, the groups set just disappointed me. All of the instruments on stage were turned up so loud that the PA couldn’t get the vocals loud enough. The other problem I had was lack of energy on the stage. While the drummer and singer had good stage presence, the rest didn’t. The lead guitarist and the keyboard player looked like they could fall asleep at any moment.

The show did have it’s good side, however. The group worked songs off the album “Source Tags and Codes” into the set, including the personal favorite “Relative Ways”. I also really enjoyed the groups use of two drummers. When used properly (like they do) it adds an extra element to the rhythm section. Watching two drummers is also quite enjoyable. The two drummers fed off each other, and pounded their hearts out.

While neither show was particularly breath taking, there are way worse ways one can spend their afternoon and nighttime. If you are a die-hard Trail of Dead fan, you will still enjoy their live show immensly. If not, just listen to Source Tags and Codes at home and call it a day.