Summer is fully here in Panther City, with a brutal and oppressive heat beating down on us throughout the day. But once the sun went down on Saturday, it was a different story: with the cool night breeze the evening brought, I just couldn’t stay indoors. God never gave us a more perfect night for a ride on a motorcycle or music on a patio. I got on my bike and headed to Shipping & Receiving.
The Fort Worth bar has a great outdoor stage on a massive brick patio (which used to be the parking lot for the loading dock). I found a spot at a picnic table just as the music started. The event invite listed Lindy as closing at the show at 11:30, but even though I got there early, they had already played their set, and The Diabolical Machines were taking the stage and doing a sound check.
The group bills themselves as power-pop, but that doesn’t really tell the story. They have a ’60s, vaguely new wave sound that is largely due to the vintage Farfisa organ, manned by Kevin Buchanan. The songwriting was creative and well thought-out, and while the instrumentals were subtle and uncomplicated, they had nice hooks and a solid rhythm section.
As much as I enjoyed the overall Diabolical Machines experience, the vocals on Saturday were rough. On the verses, vocalist/guitarist Steph Buchanan was fine, but on sustained notes, she was pitchy, and the backing vocals were often off key. Recently, The Diabolical Machines (filled out by Jonathan Holder on bass, and Aubrey Savage on drums) have taken some time off to work on new material, and it could be they were just rusty with their live performances. In any case, this is a band that is worth checking out, and I look forward to hearing more from them.
As the band tore down and the crowd made their way home, Bill Withers was singing Ain’t No Sunshine over the house PA. I rode through the deserted near-Southside streets — listening to the exhaust note reflecting off of the bricks and thinking about how blessed we are to have such an eclectic assortment of talented musicians and cool venues in which to listen to them. Summer will be over far too soon.