The common Southern fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, can carry, on average, twenty times its body weight. Twenty times a fire ant’s body weight might only be a bread crumb or a leaf but twenty times the weight is still impressive. In Dallas last night, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires (hereafter abbreviated as TGF(when it feels right)), were ferocious as southern fire ants. Four guys commanded and lifted a room that was heavier than they were…and they made it look easy.
Bains and crew kicked off the night by ripping through the first four songs on their newest album Dereconstructed. There is a phrase I reserve only for the finest of bands, playing with the highest intensity on the most meaningful of songs, “the fire and the fury…” and brother, I have to tell you, The Glory Fires bring the fire and the fury every single time they come to town.
When a set starts, burning off Company Man, Dereconstructed, Burn Piles & Swimming Holes, and Kudzu and the Concrete, you’d think there can’t be much left in the tank. But after TGF belted out the hits, they proved they had the fury that backed up the fire. One song after another, TGF kept rolling over the crowd, only stopping to give 5 second political explanations of what the next song was about. There was zero breathing room and I’m pretty sure the band must’ve loaded up on yellow jackets at a gas station before the show because everything felt at least double-time in all of the right ways.
From what I understand, there were amp issues earlier in the day so Bains was running on a bigger rig than normal, bringing roughly twice the fire power as normal. So the vocals, naturally, needed to be louder. The drums and bass probably would need to get turned up too. If everything has been turned up, the lead guitar really needs to boost a bit more to reach over the top of all that. TGF got kicked off stage last year in Fort Worth for being, “too darn loud,” which inspired my favourite piece of merch, the Too Loud For Texas t-shirt. TGF got told to turn it down last year…I guess my still-ringing ears, 24 hours after the show, are my badge of honour proving there is still a little room left for rebels in rock’n’roll.
I brought up fire ants earlier for a reason. Lee Bains and The Glory Fires had a tough job last night and they carried that weight well. In my opinion, Dallas is one of the harder cities to play. You might get a decent turnout but nobody’s moving. You might have a handful of energetic fans but there are only twenty people in the crowd. TGF played last night to about a 15% capacity room of completely statuesque people. As someone who has played in front of many apathetic crowds (very much my own fault), I can tell you the energy suck is unbelievable. When the crowd isn’t “in it” with you, it is extremely hard to play with any feeling at all. Watching The Glory Fires rip through the bulk of their phenomenal new album last night was absolutely mind-blowing in light of the fact that they played a small, unmoving room with the same intensity that you would expect from a band headlining Madison Square Garden. They carried more than their weight last night, they carried all of ours too. And like a fire ant’s sting, The Glory Fires stay with you for a while. It’s a day later and I keep looking through the pictures, watching the video, replaying the show in my head, looking forward to the next time The Glory Fires come to town.