Texas Is The Reason in October 2012: (l/r) Chris Daly, Garrett Klahn, Norman Arenas, and Scott Winegard
One fateful day sometime back in the late 1990s I made my way into Vintage Vinyl to pick up whatever albums I could find from four bands that my friend, Dan Huffman, had played for me a few days before.
I would end up buying Horse Latitudes by The Promise Ring, Four Minute Mile by The Get Up Kids, Finding The Rhythms by Hot Water Music, and Do You Know Who You Are? by Texas Is The Reason. Sounds trivial, but this would end up being one of those life-altering type of events.
I ended up seeing The Promise Ring, Hot Water Music, and The Get Up Kids, as much as I possibly could, even traveled out-of-town – mainly to Champaign, IL – to catch their shows. Sadly, I never had the chance to see a Texas Is The Reason show. By the time I was introduced to the band they had since disbanded. I felt like the only way I could ever hear a live Texas Is The Reason show would be to play the split live album they released with Samiam at a really high level on my stereo. We all know that never even remotely comes close to recreating the experience of a live show no matter how loud you turn the stereo up.
In November 2006, my hopes were raised when the band got together to play a show at Irving Plaza in New York City to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the release of their debut – and only – album, Do You Know Who You Are? This show would prove to be a “one time only” gig and no further dates or plans were made by the band.
Fast forward six more years and Revelation Records started to announce plans to have shows to help celebrate the label’s 25th Anniversary. News came around that Texas Is The Reason would be headlining the New York installment of the anniversary shows. And then the news hit, the band would be headlining the second night of the Chicago installment of shows. Without hesitation I snagged tickets to the show. I was finally going to be at a Texas Is The Reason show.
The show would be held on January 6, 2013 at the House Of Blues in Chicago, IL. Reunion shows in the freezing winter months in Chicago must just be in the cards for me. In February, 2008 I went up to see a reunited Hot Water Music at the Metro, and in February, 2012 I got to see The Promise Ring reunite, also at the Metro.
I was pretty anxious to get to the venue and ended up getting in the door with plenty of time to look around before the festivities kicked off. The Chicago House Of Blues is definitely a little more intimate than the Orlando and Las Vegas locations I have been to in the past. Normally, I would not describe a venue that has two balcony levels as being intimate, but the distance between the front of the stage and where the balconies started was minimal and really helped keep with the small theater vibe.
Opening the show were Popeye (from Farside), Sense Field, and Into Another. All three acts put on solid sets and were a testament to the level of quality music that Revelation Records has released over the years. The crowd was really into all three openers and many people were heard singing along during all three sets. One personal highlight was seeing Popeye cover the Dramarama tune, “Work For Food.” The set from Sense Field brought back memories of Mississippi Nights, where I saw the band open for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I admit I felt a little guilty though in wishing that the openers would just hurry up and be done. I was getting really anxious and looking forward to finally seeing a band after a 14+ year wait.
At about 11:20 p.m. my wait would come to an end as the house lights went down and the instrumental “Do You Know Who You Are?” started playing over the PA system. An image of the state of Texas filled with alternating colors, patterns, and pictures was projected onto a screen at the front of the stage. As the song came to an end, the screen slowly started to rise out-of-the-way and the curtain was drawn back to reveal the band as they exploded into “Back And To The Left.”
As a cruel twist of fate, Norman Arenas’ amp decided to cut out within about 30 seconds of the opening song. The band took the setback in stride and powered their way through the song. Norman held his cool and smiled his way through the gear malfunction and took to firing up the crowd by emphatically clapping along with the band. While the guitar tech swapped out amps after the song ended, Norman quipped about how everyone had been waiting 14 years for this show, so they could probably handle waiting a few more minutes.
Even after this minor delay, the band appeared to be in extremely high spirits. The smiles on all of their faces was infectious and they played just flawlessly. Bassist Scott Winegard seemed to be on cloud nine as a smile stretched from ear to ear for most of the set. The crowd sang along with every song and there was a great energy throughout the room. I found it hard to believe that a band that had been inactive for so long was just absolutely killing it. Garrett’s voice sounded great and getting to watch Chris Daly play drums was such a thrill. Seriously, Chris Daly is a beast on the drums. Watching him play, especially towards the end of “Antique”, floored me.
The band was playing with such a high energy level and with so much joy that you could not help but wish that they had never ceased to be a band after such a short time. Garrett even joked after playing a little riff to check his tuning that the riff was from a new tune they were writing. This joke brought up the realization that the band has stated that they have no plans to write or record any new material. I really made a concentrated effort to just let myself get lost in the performance and soak it all in and make the most of the opportunity.
In just over an hour, the band played its way through their entire catalog and even included two new songs, “When Rock ‘N’ Roll Was Just A Baby” and “Every Girls Dream.” These two new songs were the last songs the band ever wrote but never recorded. The band went back into the studio last year with Producer J. Robbins to record them. The two new tracks will be included in Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection which will be available in February through Revelation.
Even though the band has a few gigs booked on both coasts, they have stated that Chicago was the only and last Midwest show they will be doing. To me, it was very fitting that the last song they played, and the last song I may ever hear them play, was “A Jack With One Eye.” This has always been one of my favorite songs and with the lyric, “Your place is still at the heart of my everything,” seemed very fitting it would end up being the last song. I am so glad I made my way up for the this show. Thank you to the band for some great memories and for being part of “my everything.”
- Do You Know Who You Are? (recorded intro)
- Back And To The Left
- The Magic Bullet Theory
- Nickel Wound
- Johnny On The Spot
- When Rock ‘N’ Roll Was Just A Baby
- If It’s Here When We Get Back, It’s Ours
- There’s No Way I Can Talk Myself Out Of This One Tonight (The Drinking Song)
- Something To Forget
- Dressing Cold
- Every Little Girls Dream
- The Days Refrain
- Blue Boy
- A Jack With One Eye