Like too many of their mid-'90s emo peers, Texas Is the Reason split before they could reap the benefits engendered by their sole album, Do You Know Who You Are? Of course their music encompassed much more than that derisive "emo" tag (punk, post-hardcore et al.), but it's fair to say Texas Is the Reason are the missing link between Sunny Day Real Estate and Taking Back Sunday; despite producing a single LP in their short initial run, they've become legends to a certain subset of music listeners.
Chicago artist Evan Weiss is one such music fan, and declaratively so — he made his admiration for the headliners well known during his short opening set as the sole member of Into It. Over It. While his albums are often full band affairs — with Weiss playing all the instruments — his live shows are solo outings that find the singer-guitarist wielding his acoustic guitar that's "worth more than my car."
Stripped of their studio window dressing, his tunes lacked some of the oomph of their recorded counterparts, even if fans in the crowd ate it up, singing along with each line. But Weiss' larger than life personality made up for the shortcoming. "I'm gonna skull-fuck these kids with sadness," he joked before playing "Anchor," his final song.
Texas Is the Reason made the strange choice to take the stage to their own song, a recorded version of "Nickel Wound," with a wall of amps draped in white Christmas lights. Things got off to a rocky start due to sound issues — the drums and bottom end were mixed way to high — making it difficult to tell that the band were playing "Back and to the Left." But by "Johnny on the Spot" all problems were solved and the band were off to the races.
Lead singer Garrett Klahn told the packed crowd early that the band were eschewing encores and would just "play everything we know for you tonight," to much applause. And Klahn was good on his word, as four members, who have to be pushing 40 if not older, expertly navigated their way through their small but potent catalogue.
Klahn was relatively chatty on the mic, recalling trips up to Toronto from his native Buffalo to see shows in the very venue they were playing. "It was a mecca," he said before revealing that his mother was in the audience.
Klahn, guitarist Norm Arenas and bass player Scott Winegard were all clad in black and played with energy many younger bands lack. But watching them live — this was their first time ever playing in Canada — it became clear what an integral element drummer Chris Daly is to the band's sound, his intricate rhythms and crisp drum fills anchoring the group through album cuts and songs like "Dressing Cold" and "Blue Boy."
Reunions often smack of filthy lucre, but with so little at stake — these shows are essentially a victory lap to celebrate the expanded reissue of Do You Know Who You Are? — there was a simple purity to the performance with nothing but gratitude from both the band and the audience on display. "Those songs are yours now," said Klahn before playing the band's final song. It's a rare situation and one that everyone in the room savoured long after the music stopped.
To see Exclaim!'s Texas Is the Reason photo gallery, courtesy of Fil ZuZarte, head here.