December 14, 2013
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Andy Upton
Rock For Tots Play Hard And Heavy At Trees
Deep Ellum was the place to be on a cold December Saturday night in Dallas, Texas. Trees 5th Annual Toys for Tots concert brought home Dallas' own Drowning Pool for a loud and proud sold out show. As a major sponsor, many local Marines were on hand to collect toys and cash for the less fortunate children of the Metroplex... and the local rock fans were happy to support the cause. It's always nice to see a big show in Trees because you never know what local music celebrities might show up. Tonight's special guest was none other than Vinnie Paul from Pantera/Damageplan/Hell Yeah! and while he did not get up onstage to play, he cause quite a stir upstairs when he came out of the VIP room for a drink.
Drowning Pool keeps pushing on with their fourth lead singer, Jasen Morneo, but continues to churn out powerful hard rock music. Touring in support of their latest effort, Resilience, the boys put on another heck of a show for their hometown crew. After a special presentation from the Marines to Trees owner Clint Barlow, the crowd was bursting with anticipation. They opened with "Step Up" off of their 2004 Desensitized album and immediately dove into the title track from their 2001 LP, Sinner. Both songs were played well and got the show off on the right foot. A diverse crowd (children, parents, old school rockers and just some plain old men) were at hand to see Drowning Pool, one of Dallas, Texas premier heavy metal bands.
The show rolled on as Drowning Pool settled into a nice bunch of songs; "Think, One Finger & A Fist," and "Soldiers," which were all well received. The initial highlight of the evening was "37 Stitches" off of the 2007 disc Full Circle. "Any Time," "Pity," "Saturday Night," and "Told You So" led into "Tear Away," one of my personal favorites. To me, the vocals on this song must be nailed just right to make or break it and tonight Jasen was spot on. It re-energized the crowd and almost made me cry thinking about original lead singer Dave Williams, who passed away from heart disease shortly after the song was put released.
A clean stripped down version of "Feel Like I Do" led into the show closer, their most famous song, "Bodies." This song should be the national anthem for the Armed Services as it always seems to invoke the USA's wartime trials and tribulations. This effort brought all of the Marines in attendance onto the stage to sing along with the band. I think that may have been the loudest song I've heard live in concert. As I headed out into the cold Dallas night (or morning depending on how you look at it), I was thoroughly satisfied that I had seen another awesome Drowning Pool concert.
Of the three opening acts, all of them from Dallas, As Above So Below were the most exciting to watch. The band projected high energy, great musicianship and a solid sound that warmed up the fans quickly. However, The Dead Love A Parade were unpolished and erratic. They used pre-recorded music leading into almost every song and I could barely understand the lead singer between his screaming and mumbled lyrics. Adakain, who I have seen before, started off slowly but found their groove with another strong performance by lead singer Ryan Ray.
Hands down, Drowning Pool put on a spectacular show with guitarist C.J. being the stand out player of the night. His musicianship is second to none. Bassist Stevie Benton and drummer/back up singer, Mike Luce, kept the rhythm section nice and tight throughout. I love how Mike talks to the crowd between songs to keep the crowd involved and upbeat. Singer Jasen Morneo, with his awesome voice and rock star look, was the revelation of the evening though. He seemed to be genuinely having a blast on stage and his vocals grew stronger as the night went on. It was refreshing to see Drowning Pool's latest front man for the first time and hopefully he can stick around for a while.