Written by Adam Waldman
On Friday, September 16, 2016, Sons Of Texas took to the stage at The Chance in Poughkeepsie with no fanfare. If you didn’t know who they were, you would have thought that the guys tuning the instruments were part of the road crew. For some odd reason, the band wasn’t even announced. When they were ready, Sons Of Texas just launched into a music assault that, by all rights, should have brought the crowd to an immediate fever pitch.
Having been on the Sons Of Texas bandwagon since hearing “Baptized In The Rio Grande” on Octane when it first came out, I just assumed that others would be familiar with them as well. However, because radio has inexplicably dropped the ball on Sons Of Texas since their debut single, the boys from McAllen, TX were fighting an uphill battle for crowd enthusiasm for most of the night. That is an indictment of the audience, NOT the band.
On a late summer night, Sons Of Texas was an up-and-coming opening act in a club that holds around 1000 people. However, the sound and performance that they delivered was worthy of an arena headliner. And though hard rock and metal arena shows have become something of a dinosaur these days, if this was 30 years ago, Sons Of Texas would eventually be headlining arenas. They’re that good!
With a precision live sound and incredible chemistry, you would think that Sons Of Texas is a band that has been playing together for many years. In reality, however, this is a band of all-stars from a small Texas town on the Rio Grande that has only been together since 2013…a testament to their talent and dedication to be the best that they can be.
Sometimes, a lower energy crowd can bring down even the most veteran acts, but Sons Of Texas never took their foot off of the gas pedal from the opening note to the last. Bursting with energy, frontman Mark Morales continuously worked the crowd, encouraging them to “make some noise.” While he never got the full-throated response that he was looking for, you didn’t see even a hint of frustration, the sign of a true professional.
Throughout the evening, Sons Of Texas delivered a sound that was so powerful, that you could feel it coming at you like a freight train. The dual guitar attack of Jes De Hoyos and Jon Olivarez, combined with bass player Nick Villarreal, was visually reminiscent of classic Judas Priest, albeit with a lot more groove.
With a guitar duo like De Hoyos and Olivarez, you might expect Villarreal to have a difficult time getting noticed, but like Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, you can’t help but fixate on his dynamic playing, which combines the metal elements of Harris with the funkier, slap elements of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Perhaps he is able to be front and center and still lock in perfectly with the intense drumming of Mike Villarreal because of their brotherly connection.
In a live setting, Sons Of Texas delivers the intensity of bands like Pantera and Hellyeah, the groove of bands like King’s X and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the blistering dual guitars of bands like Megadeth and Lamb Of God. Morales showed that he can growl with the best of them, but also sing with the hauntingly melodic, southern flavored style of Zakk Wylde. He was perfectly complemented by the backing vocals of De Hoyos, who knows just when to infuse shredding solos and when to pull back and stay in the pocket.
Even if you didn’t know any of Sons Of Texas’ songs, you couldn’t help but be blown away by their performance.
From “Baptized In The Rio Grande” (the song that turned me on to the band), to “September” (a deep-meaning track that was recently featured on Music Discovery Monday), to “Blameshift” (a vastly underrated single that was featured on HRD Radio Report back in April), Sons Of Texas showed a versatility and professionalism that rivals the most well-established bands in hard rock today.
Although Sons Of Texas is a high-intensity band, they also know how to tap into the more debaucherous side of rock and roll that is synonymous with Buckcherry (the evening’s headliner). The band showed a more lighthearted side with their two closing songs, “Slam With The Lights On” and “Texas Trim.” It was during the two closing songs that the band finally got the enthusiastic response from the crowd that was deserved throughout the performance.
As impressive as Sons Of Texas was on stage, equally as impressive was the true gratitude that the band showed to everyone who came to meet with them at the merch table after the show. This is particularly true of Morales, who seemed to go right from the stage to the merch table (the perk of not having to load out equipment). Not only did he hug every fan that came up to him and thank them for their support, he also happily took pictures with anyone who requested. What really stood out though, was the care that Morales took after signing autographs, literally blowing the ink dry for each person to make sure that it didn’t smudge. Gestures like that will go a long way towards creating lifelong fans.
Don’t wait to hear Sons Of Texas on the radio before going to see them perform live. Radio is a political game that (often times) doesn’t favor the truly deserving. Make sure to catch them when they come to your area. Someday, you’ll look back with pride at having been one of the early adopters of one of the most kickass bands in rock today.