May 4, 2008

Concert Review: Audible Thought at The Barking Frog, May 2, 2008

Local music is a good thing. No, it's a great thing. It also happens to be something I do not take advantage of as often as I would like.

However, over the years I have seen some great bands, some mediocre bands, and, unfortunately, some really bad ones. During that time I have also made some lasting friendships and met some very cool people. I hope to keep that streak going for years to come. That said, I have, for the most part, been able to remain objective when reviewing those who I have come to call friend.

How? Well, believe it or not, these guys appreciate honesty. They learn about their performances and can work to improve, and the more pandering the review, the less helpful it actually is. That brings me to this Friday night performance at The Barking Frog bar, featuring a band that I have come to call friend, Audible Thought.

Now, this night was a special one for the band, as they arrived with a new bass player and relatively new drummer in tow for their first live performance since October of 2007 when they opened for Overkill. Debuting a new line-up can be a frightening proposition, especially when a few former members are in the audience. Anyway, I have been looking forward to seeing this quartet back on the stage ever since that October show. While I would not call Audible Thought one of my favorite bands, there is no denying their ability and their improving performance and songwriting.

I arrived at the bar just after 9:00. I quickly bumped into Lou (vocals) and Ryan (guitars), was thanked for coming and chatted about the upcoming set, the development of the new line-up and in general, we just caught up. I observed their sound check, with no mixing board or tech, they were doing everything themselves through their equipment. I have to say that the mix they ended up with sounded quite good, considering how they had to do it, plus the fact that the building was not exactly built for acoustics.

As show time approached, the crowd grew to a pretty good size, filled with friends, family, bar regulars, former band members, and myself. The band was a little nervous, but quite anxious to dive into their set, comprised of older tracks, new creations, and a few covers.

Before going any further, this is specifically for Mikey P. (formerly of Section 18): Audible Thought was absolutely terrible. They can't hold a tune if their life depended on it. As for that Ryan guy, he should put the axe down and take up the triangle, it would better suit his, um, talent.

In all seriousness, their show was very good, definitely not perfect, but very good. I must admit that this particular night I was not in full-on "critic mode," but it is nearly impossible to shut that side down completely, nor would I want to. This being the case, I definitely have some thoughts on the performance.

Where to start? I know! Let's begin with the individual performances. I'll start with the new guy.

The latest member of Audible Thought is Nick King, bass player. Before the set I introduced myself to him, nice guy, rather quiet. He may be quiet, but he lets his bass do a lot of talking for him. It is hard to talk about any bass player for the group without some sort comparison or reference to their original player, Jim Norton. Now, Jim is an amazing player and I cannot say enough about his ability, but hearing Nick's contribution to the evolution of Audible Thought's sound, I cannot say that Jim's absence is missed.

Nick plays much lower than Jim does, and his style is not as lead oriented as Jim's. What does this mean to Audible Thought? A lot, with plenty of potential the longer they are together. He fills out their sound a lot more, makes them heavier, and helps make Ryan's solos stand out better. Nick is a solid performer whose contributions are already being felt by the band.

Next up is their next newest member, Mike Doyle on drums. There is not a lot that can be said. He is a solid drummer who knows his way around a kit, and offers a lot more to the band than their prior stick man. He plays with great intensity, has good timing, and, like Nick, thickens the sound and adds to that sense of heaviness that they had previously lacked.

Working my way down the line I now land on Ryan Cady. Here is a guy who adds a special sense of life to the stage (or floor, as the case is with the Frog). He displays considerable skill with a guitar, playing catchy riffs and ripping through solos. Yes, a guitar player who still plays solos. I tell you, it is nice to see someone shred once in awhile. It seemed that the prevalence of lead playing has diminished ever since the dawn of the Grunge era.

Finally, there is one member left, Lou West, vocalist extraordinaire. The guy has definitely improved over the years I have seen him perform. He may not have large range, but he doesn't need it. He is a solid hard rock singer with a clean voice who knows how to let out a growl every once in awhile. His voice is stronger, his ability as a front man has improved, and he is definitely passionate about what he does.

As for this particular performance? There were a few spots where notes were missed and timing seemed to be off, but on the whole they were solid and sounded heavier than I had ever heard them before. I am sure that the heaviness was due to the new bass style and the drumming. They seemed to be having a good time, even when complaining about the heat, glad to be back in front of a live audience again after such a long time.

I do not recall the exact set list, but they included most of the songs from their debut LP, Measure Up. Among the set highlights were "Betrayed," "Respect," and "Games." The covers were pretty solid and included Drowning Pool's "Bodies," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man," Stone Temple Pilot's "Plush" (I think, I know the song but the title escapes me), Godsmack's "I F**king Hate You," and a Shinedown song that I did not know (not a fan) and sounded terrible. There were even a few new cuts that I did not recognize, including one I had heard before, but sounded different here ("Can't Break Me").

In conclusion, with a few hiccups, the show was a success, the crowd loved it, I had a great time, and the band had a great time doing it. It was also one of the longest, if not the longest they have ever played, with two 50-minute sets with a 20-minute break in between.

If you are in the Poughkeepsie, NY, area and like hard rock/metal music, keep an eye out for Audible Thought, they are well worth your time. I will close by directing you to their MySpace page, but with a warning. The music there is from their debut album, but the album suffers from a really bad mix. The band is much better than what you will hear, but it will give you an idea. So, head over to and enjoy!

Oh yes, also remember to support your local music scene and go introduce yourself to the bands you like. Trust me, they will definitely appreciate it.


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