Trail of Dead w/Doris Henson and The Swords
J. Gordon
5/1/2005 8:14:14 PM

Occasionally a show, or an album, or in Trail of Dead’s case, both will happen and you’ll know that you’re on the brink of something important that everyone else will soon catch on to—if they’re lucky. Last Thursday night at St. Louis’ Mississippi Nights was one of these perfect moments.

First surprise of the night was that a little band from Kansas with the crazy name, "Doris Henson," would completely rock our socks off. Combining insanely catchy pop melodies with hardcore fuzz and—get this—trombone that is in no ways doing the ska thing, the end result was jaw-dropping, ass-shaking cool. Check out their sound online by visiting

Next in line was The Swords, from Austin, Texas, AYWKUBTTOD’s hometown. Well-received, The Sword’s no-BS material sounded like we were hearing lost Black Sabbath tracks. Probably positioned in the front because of the small stage space (Trail of Dead has two drum kits), The Swords’ drummer should be up front all the time because he is clearly the star of the show. Vocally, The Swords are doing something different from the Oz—with more of a droning, heavy all-over mood to Ozzy’s higher pitched, more fun whine. But a good time nonetheless.

We’d hoped and prayed that Trail of Dead might begin their show the same way they begin their awesome new CD, Worlds Apart [Interscope]. They did not disappoint. Opening with “Ode to Isis,” an intro that rises in its religious fervor to a woman’s shriek and her vocalizing the band’s name, they merged right into the energy of “Will You Smile Again?” and the entire club was along for the ride of their lives. A roiling moshpit ensued almost immediately, causing the band members to worry about some of the smaller kids and girls up front.

“Just be cool, man,” singer Conrad Keely said, “so that no one gets hurt. You can come up here and hurt us,” he teased. Smiling like a toughed up version of actor Corey Feldman, he was almost encouraging trouble, adding, “So, don’t hurt them. Come on up and hurt us…”

Having visited a year earlier as openers for Guided By Voices, it was their turn to headline now. Trail of Dead held true to their old fans as well, playing plenty of older material with the new stuff. Songs like the very smart, yet full-on punk title track, “Worlds Apart,” reminded the kids of how sick and sad and spoiled we are “in this candy store of ours,” with an intentional shake-up of the sometimes frightening results from nationalism, commercialism, and religion. The show was beyond loud, the crowd was beyond into it, and with artistry and performance like this, Trail of Dead will long be known for much more than corpses in their wake.

Photo from their live performance on the Late Late Show, courtesy of the


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