How John Wesley Coleman Looked to Old Friends to Save His Set at 35 Denton
In a last-minute booking snafu, John Wesley Coleman's management accidentally booked flights for members of his garage-pop band out of the DFW airport and on their way to Chicago, where they have a show later tonight. Coleman was also booked on a flight to the Windy City, but there was just one problem--he was slotted as a headliner at 35 Denton Thursday night. Instead of changing four plane tickets at the last minute, which would have been too expensive, Coleman decided to let the guys go, and plans to catch up with them later tonight.
Rachel Watts John Wesley Coleman (left) as he gets a little help from his friends Ryan Thomas Becker and Tony Ferraro
Not wanting to follow up RTB2's set at Andy's Bar last night with a mere solo set (and I don't blame him), he hit up some old friends to help him get out of a pinch: Drummer Grady Sandlin of RTB2, who Coleman has apparently known for years, Tony Ferraro of last night's incredible opening band Satans of Soft Rock and Ryan Thomas Becker. He messaged the guys, asking if they could put together a last-minute backing band to help him out. When they all happily obliged for Coleman, who used to live in Denton several years ago and now spends his days in Austin, he e-mailed the guys .mp3s of his songs. At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, after Ryan got off work, Grady, Ryan and Tony gathered at Grady's house to quickly learn and run through Coleman's songs -- a mere six to seven hours before they went onstage to play them in front of everyone at 35 Denton.
"I'm probably more excited to play Wesley's stuff than RTB2's. There's more at stake," Grady said, taking a sip of his beer, right before the show. "Ryan and Tony have it worse than I do. For me, it's all about enters and exits. If we can all start a song together and end it together, we'll be in good shape."
Tony Ferraro added that he wasn't nervous because he was familiar with the shape of Coleman's songs, after seeing him play twice before, and then running through his set a couple of times earlier that day.
"It's good, simple, stoner garage rock. There's a loose, natural feel to his songs, so I'm not gonna be upset if I make a boo-boo," Ferraro said.
It was pretty obvious, by about three songs in, that the boys had it in the bag. It was so loose--just as Ferraro said it would be--that Coleman bounced around stage, torturing the poor microphone stand, dancing, and even making up songs on the spot, just for fun, with lyrics like "I-35 can suck my dick" and "I love, love, love, love, love, love, love my friends."
"These montherfuckers--they're my sons," Coleman said from stage, as he stumbled around, pumping up the crowd, and as a girl in the front row handed him his second shot of tequila. Justin Collins, the drummer for Tony Ferraro's opening band Satan's of Soft Rock hopped onstage with a tambourine, and played with the guys for most of Coleman's poppy, uptempo set. Next to Grady's drum set, at eye-level, there was a posted-up sheet of paper with hand-written music notes and scribbles of song titles all over it.
"Hey you," Coleman said to the girl who kept handing him shots. "Get up here."
"What's happening?" she yelled back.
"Dance party," said Coleman.
The girl made her way to the stage and the two danced, while the band improvised, playing and picking something akin to Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." When the dance was over, the band fired up again, and Coleman launched into a song on his guitar, although he handed it over to Dim Locator and Dove Hunter's excellent blues man Will Kapinos, who actually knew Coleman's song and played the rest of it entirely, while standing in the audience, on the floor in front of the stage.
Rachel Watts Dove Hunter's Will Kapinos as he plays Coleman's guitar from the floor in front of the stage
By the end of the night, the crowd at Andy's Bar was knee-deep in a full-on dance party, and two things were never more apparent: 1) Ryan Becker played three full sets at Andy's Bar that night (Satans, RTB2, Coleman), which should afford him some pretty high fucking praise; and 2) It was clearly all about the love...all about the love.
"I had an extraordinary, fabulous, ridiculous, super fragilistic expialidocious helluva motherfucking time," Coleman said afterwards. "If I would have played with my actual band, it wouldn't have been as wild."
"I'm glad that, finally, my opportunity to play music with Wes, is with these guys too," Grady said, gesturing toward Tony and Ryan. "The love is there."