Sep 12, 2010

The Toadies - Ram's Head Live

By Bob Suehs



Baltimore, Maryland


The Toadies Set List: Backslider, Little Sin, City O Hate, Heel, Happy-Face, Suck Magic, ATF, Push Hand, Song I Hate, Pink, No Deliverance, Possum Kingdom, Dollskin, Away, Nothing To, Waterfall, Tyler, ENCORE:  Don't Tell Me, I Burn, Got A Heart, Water

The Toadies gained notoriety in the 90's with their hit single "Possum Kingdom" which you can still hear played on rock radio today, it's an interesting rock song that asks the question, "Do you want to die?" & in my mind I've always tied that song to the 90's grunge scene & Kurt Cobain....I know it's twisted & "Possum Kingdom" has NOTHING to do with Nirvana, BUT, the way the grunge scene ended & the way Kurt Cobain's life ended, "Possum Kingdom" sums it up in a sick way for me!

I know, that was a weird way to start off this review, but The Toadies are on the road in support of "Feeler", the bands new release, which is technically an old release...sorta, and much like my opening to this review, the Toadies are a complicated band that's only understood when you experience them live.

Ok, let me explain my statement about "Feeler" not being totally new like this; the follow up to "Rubberneck" WAS supposed to be the music on "Feeler", but Interscope decided that the music wasn't up to par & they made the band go back & create more music..."Feeler" was put out in bootleg form but never officially released in a form that sounded up to what the band wanted it to, so "Feeler" is finally out nearly 15 years after it was recorded originally & what I'll say about "Feeler" is that the first time I heard the new record I wasn't totally sold on the "Feeler" material, BUT, when I saw the band playing the "Feeler" material live at this show I was sold 110% because seeing Todd & the boys play onstage is an amazing thing & when you see the Toadies play live there is absolute magic in the air!

This particular night of the tour, local favorites Eat Your Neighbors opened the show & they fit the bill rather well & I'll openly note that the band brought in a nice sized crowd to check out their set!

Gringo Starr are direct support for the entire tour & the interesting thing about the band is that all 4 members of the band switch instruments every other song so you wind up experiencing several different styles of music & playing throughout their set & with the constant switching of instruments you almost feel like you're seeing several different bands while viewing Gringo Starr's set!

The Toadies were the star attraction & it was obvious that the entire crowd was ready to rock when Todd & the guys took the stage in what might be the most low key entrance I've ever seen from a national act on this venue's stage!

The Toadies came out in jeans, Converse sneakers, Clark sported a checkered button shirt while the rest of the band sported t-shirts; the style of the band was much like their music; simple & to the point!

"Backslider" was the opening number & it set the stage for what the entire night was about; simple yet effective rock n roll that was post-grunge with slight alternative styles; guitars & aggression are the key elements.

There was a nice selection of "Feeler" material played in the set as well as material from "Rubberneck", "No Deliverance" & one song from the "Pleather" EP.

Bassist Doni Blair is the latest addition to the current line up of the Toadies & he fits in nicely with the bands sound & style not to mention he's the only bald member of the band. This particular night was a Sunday night & on the flip side of the bar they were playing a football game & Doni commented after the show that he didn't care for football that he was a hockey fan, meanwhile original drummer Mark Reznicek was upset that his favorite team the Cowboys had lost their game this night!

Clark Vogeler's lead guitar playing complements Todd's rhythm playing nicely & I love his custom Fender Strat that has probably the best assortment of pick-ups you'll find out there!

Clark was telling me after the show that they were surprised the show was actually good & when I asked him why he responded with, "Because it's a Sunday night & we didn't think anyone would come out on a Sunday!"

Guitar tone on this particular night was a high priority & Todd's Gibson SG's sounded thick & chunky while Clark's guitars sounded sleek & treble soaked.

On a small side note I thought it was interesting to mention that on top of the bass drum sat a THOR bobble head which was bouncing back & forth all night on top o' the bass drum!

There was NO barricade this particular night, the crowd was allowed to stand right against the stage & almost totally in the faces of the Toadies & the band seemed to love it, they interacted throughout the night with the crowd & at one point Todd gave the middle finger to Interscope Records for shelving the "Feeler" record for so many years!

Todd looked like a mad professor with his black framed glasses on & it's interesting to note that the bands biggest hit, "Possum Kingdom" was played in the middle of the set & I can't help but think that should have been the nights closer because that was the song that made the crowd go crazy!

Todd used a soft headed drum stick to beat his guitar towards the end of the first set & that led into the nights encore set.

The first song in the bands encore was a Beatles cover, "Don't Let Me" & they played it pretty true to the original version with a slight Toadies swing on the song & for this one Clark played a large hollow bodied Gibson guitar that said "Austin City Limits" on the pick guard.

It's important to note that the Toadies are from Texas & they make it a point to let you know it if you pay attention to details such as the Austin City Limits pick guard or the Texas flag that was draped over Todd's Marshall 1/2 stack.

Todd is a soft spoken, mild mannered man but don't let his demeanor fool you....when Todd gets into "ROCK" mode he's full of energy & he plays his music with passion while always addressing the crowd as though they are his equal.

This was my first time seeing the Toadies live in concert & I left the show fulfilled and what I mean is that the band played a really long, really strong set & they played this small show as if it were an arena show...they came, they saw, they rocked!