TEXAS KING comes to Kelowna
Story by Shane Collins
Photo credit and copyrights to Shane Collins & Gonzo Okanagan
The tasting room at Kelowna’s BNA Brewing Co. is a small venue for a rock show.
The walls date all the way back to the early 1900’s, I imagine. There is a sense of history in this small room but whoever took to its decorating must have had some fun. Old couches line one wall while a set of high school bleachers ascend against another. Vintage memorabilia lay scattered beneath the heads of mounted moose antlers and elk heads. It’s kinda like grandpa’s basement. Microphones and a drum set were laid out atop an old rug. The show would be on the same floor as its crowd. No stage. No risers.
Earlier in the week, I had received word from the night’s headliners, TEXAS KING. These boys come all the way from London, Ontario and they’ve set out on the road for their 2023 tour. They had called requesting an interview and for some photos. I checked out their material and was instantly excited to be in that crowd.
Once I arrived, I set my gear down and took out my camera. When I had all the settings ready, I slung it over my shoulder and grabbed myself a beer.
Mingling amongst the waiting crowd were a mix of hipsters enjoying the night, drinks in hand. It’s a bright room for a show. Usually lights are dimmed but not here. Maybe it’s that basement jam kinda vibe I like so much. I’m not sure. I hope that more shows happen here.
First up for the night is Kelowna’s pop punk rockers, CAWSTON. They began the night with an onslaught of thrashing and jumping, singing and screaming. The crowd seemed to take a while to get moving but soon enough, the bodies started to sway and then groove and then, before you knew it, hair was cutting the air as heads began banging.
I enjoyed the lead singer’s song dedication to her wife and then, when the music really got intense, their guitarist jumped up and when he came down, he snapped his guitar strap. Like a true champ, he finished the song holding the guitar without the aid of that strap, no matter how many people tried to reattach it during the performance.
Afterwards, NIGHTSHADES took to the stage and set themselves apart from the smashing and fast paced punk rock of the previous performers. No, these guys are an ensemble of musicians that layer melodies and take their time to build their songs with patient precision. They take turns singing and they swap their instruments around and their sound is deep and it connects in a dreamy, transportive way. I find their music warm and captivating. I sway and I float across the old floorboards as their music continues through the set.
Once they were finished, TEXAS KING came out to a loud cheer. The audience was well primed by now. Lead guitarist and vocalist, Jordan Macdonald was who I had spoken to on the phone. He locked eyes on me and bumped my fist. We had never met yet he seemed to know who I was. “Nice to finally meet you,” he shouted over the roaring crowd. “Let’s have some fun.” He turned away from me and they all launched into their opening song, CIRCLES. It’s a charger of a tune and right away, you can see how these guys are becoming one of Canada’s top live shows. It’s a real treat seeing bands like this in small, intimate venues like BNA’s Tasting Room.
To be skirting across the “stage” so I can get a bunch of different photos from different angles and to be at eye level is a unique advantage for live music. Let alone music photography. No security. No barriers. No worries. Song after song had the crowd pumping fists, clapping hands, singing along and each member of TEXAS KING brought out the big guns for an all out assault on every sense one needs for an epic show. Lots of smiles from the band as they played and that is something I find contagious when in the crowd. If the band is having fun, the audience is also having fun. Their music is full of love and joy. It’s in your face, raw rock and it’s stripped down to the bone. By the time they finished 11 songs, the crowd called them back for a few more. Their encore was one final blast of power that left the audience in a sweaty heap.
After the show, we all sat down in the back of the brewery for a quick chat. Amongst all the workings of a warehouse; fork lifts, boxes, tools, machinery, there is a couch and chairs set up for bands to hang out at. We sit down and I’m handed a beer from drummer, Melvin Murray. They tell me about life on the road and how this tour has brought them all the way from Ontario.
“We’ve been waiting for this tour for a while and now that it’s happening, it’s just go, go, go from now until May,” bassist Phil Spina tells me. They came from Edmonton the day before and after they leave Kelowna, it’s off to Vancouver for another sold out show.
“What’s your favorite part of touring?”
“It’s the people, man. Everytime.” Jordan wipes his brow. He smiles and says hello to friends who are hoping for some time to hang out. “Being on tour out here in Kelowna reminds us of when we were here with BIG WRECK a few years ago. We always liked this place. It’s nice to be back out here again.”
“Is it challenging being on a nationwide tour like this one?”
“It has its challenges for sure,” Melvin says before he sips his beer. “Shows like this are a lot of fun because it’s so in your face.”
“How many stops are on this tour?”
Each of them looks at one another. Shoulders shrug. Phil says, “We head to the island after Vancouver and then make our way back to Ontario by the end of May. So… 15, 16 more shows? Something like that.”
“What’s it like to play in Kelowna? In a small venue like this one. The town has lost a bunch of its old venues. Places like this are trying to get the word out. How was it?”
All three of them nod their heads “It’s great but if Kelowna had a few more places to play I think you’ll see bigger and better shows come around,” Jordan says as he stands and joins those friends who’ve been waiting while we all sit and chat.
I asked Phil what’s coming up next for the band.
“ Once we’re finished with this tour, we will have a new EP released later this summer. Once we make it back to Ontario, we get to spend some time with the family and then we need to gear up for festival season.”
I finish my beer. “Thanks for the beer and the chat fellas. Any new music coming out soon?”
Melvin shakes my hand as we all stand up. “A new release is coming out on the 28t h of April.”
“I’ll keep my eyes and ears out for it.”
We say goodbye and I head home.
If you get the chance, this is a band to see live. Whether it’s in a small venue or in a festival crowd, they’ll get you moving for a righteous night of rock and roll. Watch for that new EP coming out this summer. This is a band I believe is going places so if you get the chance to see them live, do it. You won’t regret a night out with the boys from Texas King.