In early-’90s Fort Worth, the Toadies were Nirvana + Pearl Jam, multiplied by 10. They defined the scene, they ruled it, and they inspired it.
By the time the band released Rubberneck, their 1994 Interscope debut album, their lineup had turned over a few times and North Texas audiences had spent a good three years burning “Mister Love,” “Tyler,” and “Possum Kingdom” into their brains. While different in spirit than Nirvana, the Toadies, like Nirvana, hitched dark, questioning, intelligent lyrics to a pulverizing rock attack. In doing so, they managed to click with both indie-music elitists and populist metal-heads.
Rubberneck’s success should have been the beginning of big things for the Toadies, but it didn’t work out that way. By the time the band broke up in 2001, they’d endured a lifetime’s worth of music-biz hell: working on a sophomore album, having it rejected, reworking it, seeing it come out seven years after its platinum-selling predecessor, and watching it die from record-label indifference. Frontman Vaden Todd Lewis subsequently recharged his batteries with the Burden Brothers and probably assumed that the world had forgotten his old band.
But the Toadies’ best work has lost none of its power over the last decade, and a little absence only made the hearts of their cultists grow fonder (e.g. Their December 19 show at the White Rabbit sold out so quickly, the band scheduled a second night at the club.). The rapturous response to the band’s 2005 St. Patrick’s Day performance in Dallas has led to regional touring and the possibility of a full-blown
second era for the band. It must be karmic justice: As the record-company system is crumbling, the Toadies are reconstructed. 8pm Wed-Thu, Dec 19-20, $25 (advance); $27 (day of show), White Rabbit, 2410 N. St. Mary’s, (210) 737-2221.
— Gilbert Garcia