Show Review: Toadies @ South Side Ballroom (10/11)

I recently made a playlist that was attempting to fit my top 100ish songs into a single list. Early on, it was apparent that I needed a rule that only one song per artist could be included to maximize the artists and genres in the playlist and truly be a list that represents my listening habits. That was usually easy as for so many artists/bands, I have a clear favorite song. For others it was a difficult process. One of those bands was Toadies. How do you pick from “Possum Kingdom”, “Away”, “Tyler”, “Backslider”, “Happy Face”, “I Come From the Water”, and “I Burn?” Also, how were all those songs on one album (Rubberneck)? I also realized during this process that I had never seen Toadies live. So I confess a shiver when Spotify sent me a helpful email a couple months ago that Toadies would be at Dallas’ South Side Ballroom on October 11. Hit the jump for more.

If you are anything like me, you make bargains with yourself before a concert over what would make a successful concert in your mind. Do you have to hear all your favorites? What if they don’t play your favorite, but you hear four really great ones and the production value is top notch? What if they don’t play the hits but you have a great view and the new stuff is still good? For Toadies, I decided that if I heard “Possum Kingdom” and “Away” (I wrote off them playing “Tyler” because…well you know…) and maybe “Pressed Against The Sky” or “Push The Hand”, (from the underrated Hell Below/Stars Above album) I would be happy.

The show started strong with high energy songs I didn’t recognize in the moment but enjoyed. I was instantly struck by the fact that Vaden Todd Lewis hasn’t lost a step in his voice despite just celebrating his 54th (?!?!?) birthday. About five songs in they played “In The Belly Of A Whale”, and I became a little concerned. It’s a good song, but does it signal that they are going to slow it down and strip the rest of the concert back a little? A couple songs later, I was sweating it a bit…still nothing from Rubberneck. Then the whole band did an instrument change. Lewis explained that when he was starting out, someone told him that he needed a serious guitar so he went out and bought the guitar he was now holding since it was the cheapest serious guitar he could find. He followed that up with, “Then I recorded Rubberneck on it…so here it is…Rubberneck top to bottom.” They launched right into “Mexican Hairless.”

The next 40 or so minutes was the best rock show I have ever been to. The high energy bangers pumped up the crowd. “Backslider” was especially well received by an audience that then decided to accompany Lewis on every word of “Possum Kingdom.” They ratcheted up the tempo from the album version of “I Come From the Water” which reinvigorated the crowd coming off the satisfaction of “Away” and before the slower paced “Tyler.” There was zero letting up from there until the last slightly drawn out “I Burn.” It was such a fantastic way to end the concert, I considered skipping the encore and just pretending it ended there, but stuck around and was rewarded with three more songs, ending with a better than expected cover of “I Put A Spell On You.”

Not surprisingly, 25 years after the release of Rubberneck, the album still holds up as well as you remember. Inexplicably, the live version of Toadies holds up even better.

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