No Beer or Jameson fueled review this week folks. This week I’m keepin‘ it straight edge. But even if you weren’t abstaining, I hope you were able to make it out yesterday to the Block Party! I kicked around until 5pm and had to leave due to some other obligations but five hours was still quite the overdose of music. In those five hours I caught 20 acts and the stupid thing is, when I had to leave, I was bummed about having to miss Elaine Greer, The Papermoons, Oh Pioneers, Young Mammals, Rusted Shut and a whole host of other bands. Is that crazy? You’d think I’d have been sick of it all and ready to leave but the day was too beautiful and everywhere you looked you kept running into cool people and cool music. So here are some highlights:
The McKenzies drew me in with their upbeat drums, organ, and poppy melodies. For me, they were my happy pop “discovery” of the day complete with bubble machine. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the well executed pop song. Sadly, no releases yet but they say they are working on it. Highly recommended!
Defenestration Unit were missing a guitarist yet, no offense to Jim Otterson’s skills, you never missed him. The band filled in the gaps beautifully and Charlie Ebersbaker’s work on the Korg was a great addition to the band’s palate.
Come See My Dead Person were a complete surprise. I walked in and there was this big dude with a small-scale acoustic guitar, a mandolin player, and a violinist, atop the usual drums, bass, and guitar. The singer was singing like some gypsy Tom Waits while the whole place was whooping it up. It’s probably the only time I’ve seen a band have this infectious a “drag you in” live performance since the last time I saw the Sideshow Tramps.
Antarctica Starts Here played one of the best sets I saw on Saturday. Oh, this is a band that loves a wash of echo, reverb, and delay ON EVERYTHING. Add the shimmering guitars and their patient buildups leading to some gorgeous crescendos and I’m mainlining.
Sideshow Tramps make it look so easy! I caught a bit of their set and there is the drummer throwing his stick around like some Bennihanna chef, the washboard bassist is taking a solo to hoots and hollers from the audience, the cigar box guitarist is sashaying across the stage like he’s Jimi Page, and the singer is making you buy whatever they are selling. Now, that’s all fine and dandy but I’d gone to see Perseph One and that stage running late so I headed back to Avant Garden then, sure enough, when I get back, the goddamn stage is filled with people dancing and singing along! Goddamn it, I can’t leave those Sideshow Tramps alone for five minutes!
Basses Loaded also fall under the category of bands that make it look easy with their cool bass lines, clever arrangements, and unstoppable skills. Fine cool I can deal with that and the fact that the whole American Sharks thing is also kickin‘ but I didn’t know until later that day that 1/2 of the band was in The Fucking Transmissions. Fuck that! That’s Bullshit! Attention Basses Loaded members, you have exceeded your cool band quota! Cut that shit out!
Buxton is a band I’d been curious to hear live since hearing them on Myspace and they did not disappoint. There’s a lot to like about them, strong songs, engaging vocals etc. but for me the thing that put it over the top was the lead guitarist. Here was one of those bastards that had an insane control over what he was doing - it was enviable. He’d constantly punctuate the songs with these little guitar lines and phrasing that added texture, nuance, and weight to an already heady brew. One of the best performances of the day!
The Fucking Transmissions‘ set was hip hop at it’s most musically witty. Ben (he of too much talent and too many cool bands) played guitar and bass simultaneously while the vocalists played off each other like droll school kids trying to outdo each other. Jovial and sharp, The Fucking Transmissions should quiet any naysayers who claim Houston Hip Hop is all out of tricks.
The Wild Moccasins got everyone in a tizzy. John Sears turned to me and said “Oh Shit they’re the new De Schmog!” We’ll, maybe if De Schmog was a bit more rootsy but, yeah, in terms of being upbeat, fun, and getting the crowd all nutters, they had it in spades.
I closed it off with Austin’s Death Hell Battle Tank upstairs at Avant Garden. The singer (is this the dude from Fuck Emos by the way?) sure had sass. He got on the balcony and began, with his voice running through an octave divider, to taunt the people below to come upstairs all the while addressing the Houston crowd as “Hey Dallas” and telling them how much they sucked. The band - dressed in military headgear, fully in character, and with fog machine in hand - then charged through a really fucked-up version of The Immigrant Song. It was refreshing to see someone just be purely stupid and silly. Now I’ll grant you, the shtick may get old but it was worth rolling this one at least once.
The Punk’s Not Dead Award though for the day has to go to Cop Warmth and Blackie‘s guerrilla performance outside the bike shop. If you missed it like I did don’t feel to bad; it was thrown together on a whim after the band’s performance at Numbers . Cop Warmth are like excitable chimps and - fuck stages and set times - it was time to have some fun and fling some poo: get the equipment, set up by the bike shop, play, make some noise with Blackie, and hope it’s all done before the cops shut you down. Just looking at these pictures by Brent (Link) and listening to what people said, Cop Warmth may just have topped everyone else and brought some much needed real chaos to an otherwise orderly event. Amen!
Here are some snapshots:
The McKenzies - awesome pop goodness!
The Defenestration Unit’s Mike Switzer
has come to kick ass and chew bubblegum
and he’s all out of bubblegum!
The Fucking Transmissions dropping some cognitive
dissonance on that one dude who writes-off Houston as
“a talentless hip hop sewer of uncreative ass clowns “
Best swag of the day was from Johnathan Welch!
He was dutifully workin‘ it for his spiritual guru,
& handing out the most bad-ass bookmark ever.
(Yes, Johnathan, I linked the pictures to the site.)
Breakfast On Tour review and pictures by Cereal (Link)
Handstamp (Chronicle) review and Pictures (Link), more pictures (Link), and Video (Link) by Sara Cress
Houston Calling Review By David Cobb (Link)
Houston Press review by Chris Gray (with link to a slide show Link)
Impose Magazine review and photos by David deLeon (Link)
My Pictures (Link)
Brent’s Pictures (Link)
Groovehouse’s Pictures (Link)
William Cordray’s Picture’s (Link)
Send me you Flickr and other related links so I can add them, eh?