Back in late ’80s or early ’90s Fort Worth, there was a little punk club on Main Street called The Axis. I never set foot in the place; I was poor — even for the cover for that place — so I’d hang outside and listen to the bands play. There were often more people outside than in. One of those nights, my friend Jeremy Opperman’s band (Sugarbitch) was opening for some new band called the Toadies, and to this day he’s quick to tell you Sugarbitch drew more of a crowd.
A few years later, he heard them on the radio in Washington — the Toadies had made it big while most of those bands that played that little hole-in-the wall club did not.
On Sunday, I headed out to Martin House Brewing to see these guys play a show that celebrated the release of their new Martin House beer, Rubberneck Red (the name is an homage to the band’s Rubberneck album, which was re-released for its 20th anniversary).
I’ve seen frontman Vaden Todd Lewis play on his own, but never the whole band, and this time I get to see the performance — not just hear them. The band consists of Lewis (vocals, guitar), Mark “Rez” Reznicek (drums), Clark Vogeler (guitar) and Doni Blair (bass).
Martin House is not a music venue, or a brewpub, it’s a working brewery with a stage in the corner. And on Sunday it was full of 500 or so well-lubricated Toadies fans crowding toward the stage. I tried to make it toward the stage, but couldn’t get anywhere close. To say the venue was overcrowded would be an understatement.
There were a few tense moments, especially when the crowd became completely jammed, but eventually I made it to a space in back where I could hear but not see the Toadies play their acoustic show.
They opened with Backslider, and while the sound was pretty muddy (it’s an industrial building, not a perfect acoustic environment) Lewis’s voice came through sounding as powerful as it ever has been.
I moved around trying to find a good location and wound up sitting behind the dumpster on the stairs to the loading dock out back, listening to the band through the door. Just like old times.
Sonically, the Toadies are as good as they ever have been. They did all their big hits: Possum Kingdom, I Come From the Water, and Tyler — to name a few. Judging from cheering and the crowd noise, they put on an amazing show.
In addition to the specialty beer release and concert, Martin House was celebrating its one-year anniversary, and these are a good people with an honest desire to be a part of the Funkytown community. I hope the brewery will find a way to manage the crowd size when doing these kinds of shows indoors. A show like this outside, behind the building would have been epic.