Monday, June 9, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: French Kicks, Young Mammals, & Hearts of Animals @ Walter's 06 June 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

Well, that's quite the news to get in the afternoon. Hands Up Houston announced that Frightened Rabbit had canceled their performance due to their van breaking down. That was a shame as I really love this Scottish band's droll and energetic Sing The Grays album and it sounded like they might translate pretty well live and possibly give the Dimes a run for their money. The upside though was that the always solid Hearts of Animals was called-in to pinch-hit at the last minute - you couldn't have ask for a better resolution.

Now, I don't know about you but when I drove up I was immediately overwhelmed by a swarm of headlights ahead of me and behind me! I thought, "What the fuck is with the traffic on Washington Avenue?" Then, when I turned the corner, I saw the unspeakable. A sight as frightening and improbable as turning that same corner and seeing Big Foot and Fulad-zereh fucking on the street while Abraham Lincoln stood watching and smoking a fattie. There, running back towards Washington Avenue with slicked hair and a pristine white shirt, was a valet! Yes, you got that - a fucking valet on Washington Avenue! I then rounded the block and it turned out everyone was just as confused as I because the carpark in front of Walters had open spots. Incredible! Then as I got out of my car some dude on his cellphone asked, "Is this valet parking here?" Somehow, between thinking "Are you fucking with me?!!" and "If you have to ask...", I mustered a cranky "If you're looking for valet parking you want douche-central across the street." I'm sure the bouge motherfuckers who constantly harass Walters with noise complaints are more than happy with the new desirable clientèle at the Pearl but, for the rest of us, all we can do is shake our heads and think poor poor Washington Avenue.

Thankfully, inside the doors, Hearts of Animals had already taken the stage. Over the PA, beats and backing tracks from Mlee's Powerbook pumped while her guitar layered lovely finger-picked notes above them and suddenly the gentrification convention outside didn't matter anymore. The familiar melodies of her older songs (as well as that new one that I love with Cley of the Young Mammals) are always welcome sounds and the performance was exactly what you'd expect - inspiring. The excited voices of some new-to-HOA women standing in line to the bathroom seemed to confirm that summation. The Superunison folks couldn't have been smarter in picking her to fill-in.

The Dimes followed and after a few "Let's go team!" hand slapping they proceeded to slash and hack through their set in that fashion we're so used to seeing and likely take for granted here in Houston. It's the Dimes: Iram pounding the drums while stealing the spotlight from behind the kit with his charming impish performance, Cley dancing with his guitar in a manner suggesting he'd do a good job of wrestling a giant rubber snake in some crazy B movie, and Carlos (all smiles) leading the charge with his voice while his rhythm guitar, along with Jose's bass, keep it all from sprawling into chaos. They are a world-class live band and the new songs just show great and unique they are as a band. This is one Houston band that - high gas prices or not - needs to get on the road, take it to the people, and show them how it's done.

Closing it all was Brooklyn's French Kicks. The performance was sharp, the sound was crisp, and the harmonies and instrumentation were gorgeous. And while some songs are wonderful and will make you break-out in an uncontrolled admiring smile, the simple fact remains that the French Kicks are a very good band. I have been spinning their new album and enjoying some of its songs quite a bit but, here is the rub, both the Young Mammals and Hearts of Animals are better and more consistent songwriters and, when it comes to a live show, the electrifying Young Mammals energy is unbeatable. The latter may not be particularly fair to French Kicks given what they do but, honestly, as their performance continued, I did get that "OK got it!" feeling by the last third. God, that sounds awful because it makes them sound as if they were bad but they weren't; the bar had simply been raised so high that even a band of their talents simply couldn't overshadow what had preceded. But that was just me as everyone else in the packed crowd clearly loved it from the first note to the last. So, ne vous inquiétez pas French Kicks - it's not about who doesn't salute, it's about who does.


Hearts Of Animals
Pinch-hitting for the Scots
The Young Mammals
Breakin' out in a Cold Sweat The French Kicks
Basculez la maison



Links:
Frightened Rabbit (Link)
Hearts of Animals (Link)
Young Mammals (Link)
French Kicks (Link)


More pictures on my Flickr (Link)

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