So There: The Best of The WeekBen Folds. Photo: Ben Folds/Big Hassle
Well, SXSW is happening in Austin and the best acts there will be in town over the next nine or so days. This week features performances by Ben Folds, Minus The Bear, Conor Oberst and more while locals like B L A C K I E and Astragal will round out the edges. Houston, here’s how to navigate this insane week of shows.
Wednesday if you’re up for a drive then you could head to Dosey Doe at their Big Barn for the bizarre yet intriguing sounds of That 1 Guy. While his latest release is a single called “Bomb Dignity” from two years ago, don’t let that dissuade you from checking him out. Playing a mix of homemade instruments, you won’t catch something so strange that you’ll walk away loving as much as this guy. The all ages show has doors at 7 pm and tickets between $10 and $15.
If you’d rather stay close in, you could catch the hooky pop rock of Georgia’s Eureka California at Walter’s. To my knowledge this band is a duo, but boy are they strong and their latest release, Versus from last year, is really good. The post punk of Georgia’s Feather Trade will be on as direct support while the acoustic emo jams of Greg Cote & The Real Life Friends will go on prior. The shoegaze indie pop of Houston’s Astragal will also be on hand where the indie emo rock of Since Always will open the all ages show with doors at 8 pm and an $5 cover.
Cool Moon. Photo: Peter Wheiland
Rudyard’s will bring in the haunting beauty of New York’s Elizabeth Devlin. Mixing autoharp with vocals that stick to your ribs, Devlin feels like an act you’re foolish to miss out on, and her latest release, Orchid Mantis from this year, is a gorgeous nod to her strengths as a singer songwriter. Houston’s Adam Bricks will provide his singer songwriter prowess as direct support while the indie rock of Cool Moon will open the 21 & up show with doors at 8 pm with an $8 cover.
Over at Satellite Bar, the good time garage rock of Chicago’s Bleach Party will be on hand for all to enjoy. Someone once compared this four-piece to a band that would play on a “luau episode of Scooby Doo,” and honestly that is what they sound like. Almost if the Beach Boys and The Ventures dropped a garage rock album, last year’s Endless Bender sounds like the soundtrack to a beach party that you never want to end. The surf rock of Houston’s Total Nightmare will be on as direct support and the math punk of Galveston’s Blast Dad will go on prior. Huntsville’s The Hammer Party will open the all ages show with doors at 8 pm with a $10 cover.
Thursday you can catch the piano based antics of Ben Folds at Jones Hall. Twenty years ago I caught this unknown band at SXSW called Ben Folds Five, and I’ve seen Folds solo several times since and he never disappoints. His latest release was a live album, but So There from 2015 was his catchiest and most inventive in years. Because he rarely swings through our city, this is a rare treat to catch him in such a grand setting doing what he does best. There’s no word of openers but that could change for the all ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $29 and $99.
Genesis Blu. Photo: Brian Keith/Courtesy of Artist/Facebook
House of Blues will host the popular East Coast hip hop of The Lox. Back after what seemed like forever, the group that includes Jadakiss and crew dropped Filthy America….It’s Beautiful late last year and proved they weren’t done yet. New York’s Uncle Murda will be on as direct support and Don Flamingo will go on beforehand. Houston’s Genesis Blu will open the all ages show and rep the H as only she can with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $25 and $45.
You can get your laughs in at The Secret Group when they host the 12,000 Degrees Comedy Battle. The show, hosted by Mycal Dede & Zach Dickson, should be full of laughs while two other comics battle it out for entertainment supremacy. Karaoke, comedy, and even rap battling will all ensure with this edition featuring Austin’s Zac Brooks and Houston’s Rich Williams. The all ages show with doors at 7:30 pm has a $5 cover.
Dead To The World. Photo: Scot Overholser/Courtesy of Artist/Facebook
Satellite Bar will host the punk rock of New York’s The Jukebox Romantics. Sounding like a mix of Swingin’ Utters and Rancid, these guys play sing-song punk that’s pretty solid and their latest, Transmissions Down from 2015, is worth checking out. Houston’s Action Frank will bring their pop punk on as direct support while the harder punk of Dead To The World will energetically go on before. Bottom of The Food Chain will open the all ages show with doors at 8 pm and a $5 cover.
Continental Club will have the legendary Chicago soul singer Renaldo Domino. Possibly one of the sweetest voices you can hear, he dropped tracks like “Not Too Cool To Cry” and “I’ll Get You Back,” and he doesn’t get down here often. If he can still sing like he did back in the day, then this show is worth making it out for with doors at 10 pm and a TBA cover.
On Friday you could get your St. Patty’s Day going with the one place who takes the day so seriously that they get started at 11 am — Mucky Duck. For over 25 years the venue has had a crazy traditional St. Patty’s celebration and this one is no exception to that. Traditional Irish dancing from the Clann Kelly Irish Dancers, and Drake Irish Dancers as well as sets from Piper Jones Band, Kristen Coyle & the Black Swans, Frances Cunningham, and Whitney Rose will all be a part of the celebration. Hosted by the always entertaining Jim Mackenzie along with an Irish sing-a-long from Martin Burniston, the all-day affair has tickets between $20 and $22.
Over in the corridor for Last Concert Cafe and Eastdown Warehouse for the For The Community 13 Fest. More than seventy bands over three days, and poetry and so much more will be on hand. Sets from Vanilla Whale, HAKEEM, Space Villains* and so many more will be on hand. The all ages event with doors at 2 pm is 100% FREE with the entire list of artists and set times available here.
Conor Oberst. Photo: Tony Bonacci/Grandstand Media
Of course, I’d guess that most of you would be headed to Warehouse Live when they bring Conor Oberst into the ballroom. While he’ll always be known as the lead singer of Bright Eyes, Oberst has made some solid albums under his own name. His latest, last year’s Ruminations, is probably his best since his debut solo album almost a decade ago. The rootsy Americana folk sounds of New York’s The Felice Brothers will be on as direct support and openers for the all ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $29 and $31.
At the now-roller rink at Discovery Green, you can get groovy at the Rainbow and Roll event hosted by Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. Performances by Crawford Nation’s Aria, Linda D, Alexa D and more as Beyoncé, Janet Jackson and more will all be on hand. Plus roller skating sounds pretty much like Xanadu for the all ages event that starts at 7 pm and is 100% FREE.
Revention Center will bring the massively popular Detroit rapper Big Sean over to perform the larger scale room. Here in support of last year’s I Decided, Sean has been getting bigger and bigger since his debut ten years ago. Atlanta’s Madeintyo will be on as direct support and opener for the all ages show with doors at 7 pm for the sold out show.
Sandy Ewen. Photo: Lauren Roesler-Graves
Walter’s will bring in the protest freeform jazz of This Saxophone Kills Fascists. One of the more intriguing acts going today, his latest album Live At Obsidian, January 26, 2017 should give you an idea of his intensity. The improvised experimental jazz guitar of Houston’s Sandy Ewen will be on as direct support while the intense grime hip hop of B L A C K I E will go on prior. The lo-fi, bizarre and never the same sounds of Ak’chamel will also be on hand while Tex Kerschen’s Zone Control will open the all ages show with doors at 8 pm and a measly $5 cover.
Satellite Bar will have lead singer of Dead Milkmen Joe Jack Talcum over to perform. Talcum has always had an intriguing voice and a bizarre acoustic lo-fi sound, and while you can’t stream his newest album, his 2014 album Home Recordings 1993-1999, should give you an idea of what he brings to his solo sets. For some reason there are a bunch of punk bands on beforehand including The Gloryholes, Houston’s Kemo For Emo, and Feels Like Murder. The all ages show has doors at 8 pm and a $10 cover.
D&W will bring the Texas Americana roots sounds of Quiet Morning & the Calamity over for a late night set. This group reinvented themselves bringing a more earnest sound in and they’re always worth making it out for. The all ages show with doors at 9 pm is 100% FREE.
Night Beats. Photo: Uncredited/Ground Control Touring
On Saturday you could make your way to the studio at Warehouse Live when British psych group Temples comes to town. This four-piece makes trippy neo-psych music, they’ve become well known for their crazy live sets, and their latest release, Volcano from last year, is pretty great. The popular R&B meets psych sounds of Seattle’s Night Beats will be on as direct support while the impressive blues duo Deap Vally of LA will go on prior. The dreamy psych pop of California’s Froth will also be on the bill while kraut psych of JJUUJJUU will open the all ages show with doors at 6 pm and tickets between $25 and $27.
You can get your electro pop on when Sunset SNST (formerly The Firebird Band) swings by Satellite Bar to play. Featuring Chris Broach from emocore band Braid, Sunset is like a mix of eighties New Order mixed with hints of Yaz thrown in. They’ll have their debut album Turn Out The Lights on hand at the show, and you can get an idea of their sound on the single “National Monument.” The electro pop of Houston’s Camera Cult will provide direct support while the dark and hypnotic electronica of MIEARS will go on beforehand. Tee Vee will open things up with their catchy electronic goodness for the all ages show with doors at 8 pm and a $10 cover.
Walter’s will host the celebrated electronics of Montreal’s Marie Davidson. Hailed by critics as genius, Davidson’s latest release Perte d’identite is a dark synth tour de force. Dylan Cameron will bring his impressive techno dance sounds on as direct support while Maramuresh will go on before. Houston’s Hedrick & Murland will also be on hand while the minimal synths of Houston’s Funeral Parlor will open the all ages show with DJ sets from Andy V and Bad Bones. The doors are at 8 pm and tickets between $10 and $13.
Beach Slang. Photo: Charlie Lowe/Polyvynyl Records
Downstairs in the big room at White Oak Music Hall you can catch the quirky sounds of Minus The Bear. The indie rock five-piece has been making waves since they began and their latest Voids from this year is their most cohesive to date. The can’t be missed indie fuzz rock of Beach Slang will be on hand as direct support, and I promise you don’t wanna’ miss them play last year’s A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings in person. Houston native turned Austin transplant Bayonne will open the all ages show with his mix of live instrumented electronica with doors at 8 pm and tickets between $22.50 and $27.
Over at Boondock’s you can get groovy with the Les Femmes show. Featuring DJ sets from GRRRL Parts DJs Angiesliste, and Gracie Chavez, the all female DJ event is a good way to end a Saturday. The 21 & up show with visuals from Leckie, gets going around 10 pm and it’s 100% FREE.
Sunday you can get started at Civic TV Collective for Dr Wiggins’ Sunday Matinee show. This edition will feature the always amazing lo-fi indie rocks of Houston’s Hearts Of Animals. In December they dropped a new track called “Cat Karma” that basically blew my mind, and while there’s no word of when the new album will drop, the recent live sets from them have been pretty epic. The power punk pop of Houston’s K. Campbell will open things up as well as a quick acoustic set from The Wiggins at the all ages and 100% FREE show with doors at 2 pm.
Later on you should swing by the studio at Warehouse Live for the fuzzy soulful pop of LA’s Chicano Batman. These guys are pretty amazing and they impress wherever they perform, plus their new album Freedom Is Free from this year is like if Alejandro Escovedo played with Toro Y Moi. Sad Girl will bring their lo-fi surf pop on as direct support while The Shacks will open the all ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $14 and $16.
Ruiners. Photo: Jordan Asinas
Over at The Clinic you can get down with the catchy garage pop of Pennsylvania’s Spill. Seriously, if this four-piece is half as strong live as their latest release Top Ten from last year, then this should be a killer show. The indie rock of Albany’s Aficionado will pop direct support while the crazed energy of Houston’s Ruiners will go one beforehand. As one of the last shows under this name, Valens will open the all ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $5 and $7.
Satellite Bar will have the heavy rock sounds of Denver’s Cloud Catcher. Playing guitar-based and doom-inspired sounds, this power trio brings plenty of riffs and heavy goodness on their newest album, this year’s Trails of Cosmic Dust. Houston’s Funeral Horse will show them how energetic heavy metal can be as direct support while the chunky riffs of The Dirty Seeds will open the all ages show with doors at 8 pm and a $10 cover.
Monday you can get your groove on with the electro pop jams of Austria’s SOHN downstairs at White Oak Music Hall. This producer singer songwriter definitely knows how to drop tracks that are as sexy as they are groovy, and his latest release Rennen from last year might make you sweat or take off clothes. The avantgarde electronica of the UK’s William Doyle will be on as direct support and opener for the all ages show with doors at 7 pm and tickets between $17 and $22.
Colleen Green. Photo: Eric Pena/Hardly Art
Walter’s will have a barn burner when the rock n’ roll mayhem of sibling duo White Mystery of Chicago swings by to perform. Here in support of their upcoming release Fuck Your Mouth Shut, these two do more as a duo than some bands do with three times as many members. The fuzz rock bedroom pop of LA’s Colleen Green will be on as direct support, and I promise you won’t want to miss her. The electronic fusion of LA’s The Memories will also be on the bill while the lo-fi pop of San Francisco’s Emotional will be on beforehand. Houston’s Rose Ette will bring their indie pop rock on as openers for the all ages show that’s 100% FREE for the adults and $5 for minors with doors at 8 pm.
Tuesday things get back to normal when the massively popular show Grownup Storytime returns to Rudyard’s. The Bootown produced show has become a staple for most Houstonians and tourists alike, and it’s always a hilarious and fun time, There are two shows at 8 pm and 10 pm, it’s 21 & up, and like always both carry a measly $5 cover.
That’s about all that’s happening around town this week. No matter what you decide to embark on, remember that getting home safe is best for you and everyone else, so be mindful when you drink.