There have been some great shows at Belly Up this season and no matter what kind of music you appreciate most you were able to find an artist that could blow your mind.
I love it all, or am at least able to understand why someone would like every act that comes to town, but my personal favorites are almost always rock bands. I grew up listening to them and playing in them and I just adore the idea of a tour bus full of instruments.
This year there were two bands that stuck out in my mind as the shows of the season. They were both rock shows that packed the Belly Up and the production qualities were as high as anyone could expect. Bloc Party and The Silversun Pickups were the two stand-out shows of the year, but since last Thursday I have to add another show to the list.
That’s because last Thursday The Wheeler Brothers played a free show to a small crowd that was not hyped or anticipated but was overwhelmingly awesome. The Wheeler Brothers are a five-piece folk band from Austin, Tx. comprised of three brothers and two friends. They deliver a fusion of indie rock and folk with a little bit of twang.
The brothers from oldest to youngest are Patrick Wheeler on drums, Tyler Wheeler on bass guitar and Nolan Wheeler on lead vocals and guitar. The two other members are Nathan Rigney, electric guitar and vocals, and A.J. Molyneaux, lap steel guitar.
Every member has roots in the Austin area and all have a great combined stage presence that brings out their own quirks and comforts. They’ve known each other for so long they play as brothers or friends and everything seem to fit.
The origins of the band go back to the Wheeler’s house where they played together in high school. After graduation the brothers and Rigney went to Louisiana State University, while Molyneaux went to the University of Texas. After college the band re-solidified back in Austin.
The Wheeler Brothers have won about every award possible for a rock band in the Austin area and have released two albums to date, wonderfully well put together and well produced. They have a lot of pride for their city and they have gotten incredible support from their community.
In Austin, every one of their shows sells out every time but that is not what they see on the road, and especially not what they saw in the early days of their touring. They say that many times they have spent hours on the road only to end up playing at a restaurant with as many patrons as they have members in their band.
It has been a slow and steady grassroots build for the Wheeler Brothers outside of Austin, but they prefer it that way. They say that some of those shows where they got to meet everyone in the audience were the best experiences and those types of situations keep getting further and further behind them and they almost miss those times.
They have always respected the bands that just get out there and work hard. The Wheeler Brothers don’t want it to be too easy and they want to meet everybody along the way. After their show at the Belly Up the entire band chose to hang out at The Red Onion with the people they had recently met from their show.
They are so welcoming to fans that they even have a cell phone fan line that they keep with one of them and anyone can call at anytime (seriously, give it a call: 512-983-5934).
For the Wheeler Brothers it’s just about writing the best music they can, playing great shows and staying close and on the same level with their fans. With the way the audience enjoyed this visit I would be surprised if the Belly Up did not have them back in the near future.
John Zelazny would like to release his own fan line to the public. He also appreciates your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org