December 3, 2011
Houston, TX @ BFE Rock Club
2011 marked the fourth anniversary of what has become an awesome tradition with Wide Open Throttle. For the past four years, Ryan McKnight and company have dressed the BFE stage with decorations that would rival Clark Griswold, practiced hard to nail their Christmas themed covers, sweat their asses off in Santa and Elf costumes, and pounded the pavement in promotion to bring smiles to kids’ faces who might not have seen them otherwise. If you have yet to see the show, shame on you! The boys in Wide Open Throttle take an array of well-known Rock and Metal songs by such bands as Motorhead, King’s X, Five Finger Death Punch, Foo Fighters, Metallica, Accept and more, and give their lyrics a holiday twist. Take King’s X “Black Flag” and insert mistletoe, Foo Fighter’s “The Pretender” and put a fruit cake twist on it, and who can forget their “Halls to the Wall” take on an Accept classic (sign of the Christmas tree!). These songs are fun, and give a clever alternative to listening to the same Christmas songs every year. Chestnuts can only roast on an open fire for so long.
Not only was this show a benefit for kids, in addition Wide Open Throttle openly invites attendees to bring their own children along, and started the show at 8:30 to accommodate bedtimes. I am proud to say that this was the first show my own children, 6 and 8, attended. Start ’em young, I say! They thoroughly enjoyed the holiday lights, seeing Santa and his elves rock out, and playing their own version of hand-held billiards. I asked both what their favorite part of the show was, to which my oldest replied, “I liked when your friend, Roar, was yelling on the stage,” alluding to the Christmas night version of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” My youngest simply liked taking a picture with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
In addition to Wide Open Throttle’s performance, the guys have always pieced together quality acts to follow that are in the same positive vibe as their show. This year saw the second performance ever of the band, Echo Temple, following the holiday cheer that is the Wide Open Throttle Christmas show. Echo Temple contain some members that may be familiar to those on the Houston scene, including Shane Dubose of Krucible and Stride fame, Adam Rawlings of Victim, Tyton, Krucible, and Mindcrime, and Tom Calandra of Z-Lot-Z. Immediately the band set the standard with their prog influenced Metal with an edge. Having never heard the band before, I didn’t know what to expect, nor can I tell you the song titles. However, their set was nearly flawless in execution. There were definitely some professionals on the stage that night. What really caught my attention was the cover of Evergrey’s, “A Touch of Blessing.” I was floored by the power of that cover alone, which admittedly forced me to pay more attention to the band afterward. Echo Temple are a band to watch for. Tom’s vocals are serene, yet delivered with a hidden power that will knock you back. The dual guitarists are incredibly talented masters of their instruments, and deliver precision solos and emotional melodies in ever song. Shane, along with the drummer, hold the songs together with a varied backbone, and Adam’s keys are the icing on the cake. Look for Echo Temple at several LSM showcases in 2012.
Following Echo Temple was a cover band called, Wolfpack. Wolfpack covered an array of Alternative and Hard Rock hits from artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice in Chains, Black Crowes, Godsmack and more. These boys were a younger band, yet their set was absent of the typical start/stop sloppiness common among younger bands. They obviously worked through their set, and this shows a more mature band. Wolfpack was a fun band, and a great end to the evening.