By Nicholas Sanders with photos by Ryan Javier
DALLAS – Punk is as punk does and the other night, the Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill did punk. Attendance was sparse, despite there being four bands on the ticket including the headliner, FAT BY the Gallon. But pulling any sort of crowd on a Wednesday night in north Dallas with punk music is an uphill battle. If you’ve never been to the venue, I’ll try my best to set the scene for you. At the Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill there is a main indoor dining area with a bar and food service, otherwise known as a restaurant. Since its opening in September of 2013, the Gas Monkey has served food and booze to many a local fan of the Discovery Channel show about the garage by the same name. Walking through the doors next to the giant glass garage (which stayed closed the entire time and which I think are partially soundproof), you come into their staging area. They have a beautiful sound system, and an equally impressive lighting setup. The stage itself is large enough to accommodate some of the debauchery that punk rock is notorious for, but tonight the masses just didn’t want to hear punk music, which can hardly be blamed on the acts. It was a Wednesday, after all.
The volume of the entire show was too loud for the amount of people in attendance. The first opener, Bullet Machine, came on while the sun was still out and played a few songs for us from their static positions on the stage.
When they stepped down, Not Half Bad followed, sharing their liberal political views from the mic.
Hate for State came on after that and yelled at us before going headlong into their set.
The headliner, Fat BY the Gallon, played next.
Every single person that touched the stage that night had obvious talent. Although the material the bands chose to perform was mostly surface level at best, a few of the songs that actually came from the EP’s of the various bands stood out as melodic and harmonized well with the sound they were pushing out. Discerning the voices from the instruments within the songs was hard; so few words came through the grinding feedback from the guitars. It was like listening to punk rock through your grandmother’s ears. Overall, there is an expected level of mayhem and high octane good times at a punk rock show, but if there isn’t a lot of crowd noise to play over, it’s okay to lower the levels.
The real standout from the show was the boisterous second act, Not Half Bad. If ever a band is going to grind ahead on sheer personality and alcohol, it’s this one. The lead singer provided his take on the state of the nation from behind a beer can between every song. Even though the way he sings hurts my throat as if I were the one spitting his lyrics into the mic, and he missed half the words and sang them into the open air, charisma carried their songs into the people below and a few of them stood up and actually uncrossed their arms. I got my hands on their 13 track LP “Good People” and found a surprise banjo on a few of their tracks. It’s definitely worth a listen. Highlights of the CD are the tracks Punk Rock is a Full Time Job and the poetic It Really Sucked, Actually.