If one band had to represent “Texas music,” it would be Two Tons of Steel. A twangy, alt. country and rockabilly quartet from San Antonio, Two Tons of Steel is one of the most entertaining Texas bands you’ll ever have the chance to see live. The band that’s played countless shows in popular venues around DFW, including the Granada Theater and Lola’s Saloon, put on a fun-filled 21-song show at Capital Bar in Fort Worth on Saturday.
Two Tons kicked off the show with the upbeat, guitar-heavy “Not That Lucky,” the title track from the band’s latest album. Playing a solid setlist with fan favorites from Not That Lucky and their 2005 release Vegas – and their fast and fun country take on a punk classic, the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” — Two Tons gave an incredible performance despite a lack of enthusiasm from the crowd.
For a place that’s a bar first and a music venue second, the sound and stage area at Capital Bar were great. Unfortunately, since Capital Bar isn’t primarily a music venue, the crowd was boring — few people danced, only a couple knew the songs well enough to sing along — it was nothing like the last Two Tons show I saw at Lola’s in Aug. 2010, where I met a couple who travels around Texas to see the band and where the entire bar was filled with people dancing and having a good time.
The band, which has been playing music for almost two decades, has a huge, dedicated fan base. Their well-known annual concert series (called Two Ton Tuesdays) at the famous Gruene Hall in New Braunfels sells out every Tuesday, every summer. But most people at their show (a crowd of a few hundred people) at Capital Bar probably wouldn’t know that.
Although Two Tons’ music is simple, catchy and fun, the band still manages to push conventional boundaries. Adding brief solos and extended jams in between songs, Two Tons finds ways to bring life into even the standard songs that are played often (“Vegas,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” “Your Kiss,” “Bottom of the Bottle,” “Red Headed Woman”).
With a solo at the beginning and in the middle of “Wanna Dance,” Chris Rhoades, who plays the upright bass, is a huge part of why you should see Two Tons live. It’s a rare thing to see a young musician with slicked-back hair, decked out in 50s-inspired straight leg jeans and boots playing an upright bass in such a creative way — mixing country, swing and rockabilly. Each of the band members brings something to the table — lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Kevin Geil’s twangy voice, electric guitarist Dennis Fallon’s ability to play slow and fast rhythms, and drummer Chris Dodds’ precision — and their live shows are evidence of this.
By the end of the night, the crowd loosened up a bit. With more people on the dance floor and more people tapping their feet to the beat, it was obvious Two Tons of Steel had played a great show — even for those who might not have ever listened to the band before. With close to 200 shows every year to choose from, there’s no reason any Texan should miss out on the fun.