Torches Together: The Best of The Week
Leon casino, Photo: The Ely Brothers
The best part of a place like Houston, is that it seems like there’s always more than enough to do. This weeks holds some great shows full of up and comers, some reunions, and some amazing to do’s around town as well as the PRIDE parade. Here’s how you should spend your free time.
I think that it’s pretty obvious where most of you will be, or at least should be on Wednesday; when Me Without You comes to town. Over at Warehouse Live, the Philadelphia group is touring in the ten year anniversary of their epic 2004 release, “Catch For Us The Foxes.” One of the best albums that year, this might be as amped for a show as I’ve been in a long time. There aren’t too many bands where the singer speaks more than sings of their caliber, and you won’t find one more entertaining either. I saw them in 2005 and they put on such an energetic performance, that I can’t wait for this one. If seeing these guys light up the stage isn’t enough for you, one of the better emo bands going, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die is opening things up. If you missed them when they came to Fitz, I’ll just say that they’re like a mix of Joan Of Arc meets Explosions In The Sky; but they seriously blew me away live. You need to make this show as ones like this don’t come around often. The show is all ages, the doors are at 7:00, and the tickets are a steal at $15.00; but just remember that this will should sell out, so act accordingly.
If for some bizarre reason you don’t make it to Warehouse Live, you can soldier over to Fitzgerald’s to see locals Featherface. If you weren’t in the know, they released a pretty damn good record called “Actual Magic.” It’s got strong pop hooks, nicely crafted melodies, and some pretty great moments of magic. As far as live, they’re kinda of hard to touch. When I saw them four years ago with Fox & Cats, I was pretty freaked out by their intense live show. They’ll be playing with Nashville’s dreamy eyed Sol Cat as well. Sol Cat has this slow pop build up that gets bigger and bigger with each verse, and I have a feeling they’ll put on a great show. One of my favorite Houston bands, Young Girls will bring their hand claps and upbeat tempos to the show, while Raceway opens things up. The doors are at 8:00 and the tickets are $8.00-$9.00.
On Thursday, you can make your way to MKT Bar at Phoenicia downtown to see Chase Hamblin & The Roustabouts. I could tell you how you’re a moron if you miss carry on the tradition of songwriting troubadours from rock’s early days, or how seeing him in this setting is a treat. I could tell you that his mix of George Harrison meets Bob Dylan is so infectious; that you should be counting the days until he’s a big deal. But it’s best to just tell you that you should go because these guys throw down when they perform, it’s all ages, & it’s 100% FREE. Things get going at 8:00.
Of course, after you see Hamblin, you might as well hit the other end of downtown at The Continental Club for Mikey & The Drags. I don’t think you can listen to these guys and not be immediately transformed to the mid sixties, when there were shindigs and hip cats. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but they’re garage rock at it’s finest, and definitely worth making it out for. They’ll be joined by Brooklyn’s Quitty & The Don’ts. They have a garage meets psych sound, like if Iggy formed a Doors cover band. Get there early as Houston’s all girl doo wop group, The Motion will be getting things started off. I hear good things from them, and they really fit the bill for this show, especially if you’re a fan of acts like The Shirelles and The Ronettes. Things should get started around 10:00, it’s 21 & up, and as it seems with Continental lately; the cover price is up in the air.
On Friday, there are plenty of people trying to get your business. First off, 8th Wonder Brewery and PRINTS are teaming up for a night of lights and DJ/EDM goodness. The Skin In The Game Street Fest looks like a crazy and off the hook list of performers, and it’s an 18 & up event. The crazymix of BoomBaptist will be dropping some serious sickness when he visits from Austin. Bass Beat, Future Bass, Broken-beat; this guy does it all while mixing the old with the new, and he should blow everyone away. The trippy low end beats of Carolina’s Proflogik will also be on hand, as will California’s beatstramentalist, Ikabod Bum. If that wasn’t enough, Austin’s mad loop scientist Eversive will be on hand as well as Austin’s Man-of-The- Downtrodden. The trippy and ambient sounds of Houston’s Android Genius will get things going. With food trucks by Eatsie Boys and Goro & Gun, as well as visuals and production by Lynchpin Audio, this is a killer event for our city as well as all in attendance. The block party should get going around 6:30, and tickets range between $15.00 and $25.00.
Of course, if that’s not your scene, then you can catch the latest performance from Houston’s Dem Damn Dames over at Numbers. The ladies will be bringing the glitz and glam of Las Vegas in the first night of their once a month showcase over at the classic club. There promises to be plenty of classic showgirl work alongside the Dame’s usual acrobatics & creatively themed shows. And, because it’s PRIDE Weekend, you get to stay after the show and dance the night away for free with the purchase of a ticket to their show. They’re really upping the ante on this show, as it’ll not only contain the regular gals, but they’re bringing in some out of town performers as well. The doors are at 7:00 and tickets range between $15.00 and $30.00.
Over at Walter’s, Darwin’s Finches will be doing their garage rock thing better than most on Friday. The duo has that crazy ability to create a thick sound better than so many acts who have more members, There’s some chaos, some psych guitar, and there always promises to be an entertaining set from these guys. The throwback emo sound of Valens will also be there. These guys have a bit of the Braid sound mixed with some Boilermaker, they should make for an interesting band to see live. Maybe the Houston band who wins “Best Band Name of the Year,” Hear You Me will open things up with their jangly rock that at times sounds like early Boys Life. The doors are at 8:00 and the tickets are a miniscule $7.00.
Over in the museum district, the Museum of Fine Arts has a bit of a mixer going on with their Mixed Media night. The opening night exhibition of Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House will be happening while DJ’s like Gracie Chavez and Navo, DJ Sun, and John The Third spin records. The night is headlined by Lunice, and it’s opened by the interesting and EDM funkiness of The New Mercies. There promises to be a cash bar, it gets going around 8:00, and tickets are $18.00 for museum members, and $20.00 for us regular folk.
The Dead Milkmen once said, “If you ain’t got Mojo Nixon, then your store could use some fixin.” That may be the truest statement ever made about a record store, that still rings true today. On Friday Night, Mojo Nixon will be back from being un-retired with his Toadliquors in tow over at The Continental Club. For those who aren’t in the know, Mojo has been bringing crowds his brand of rockabilly meets guitar rock silliness for the past thirty years. There was a time when musicians weren’t so serious, when they built cult followings, and when they were entertainers first. That’s what Mojo Nixon is, was, and will always be. He’s a guy everyone should see sooner than later, as his live show is one of legend. The only band who could possibly open for Mojo, Austin’s raucous Mardi-Gras sounding Shoulders will get things started around 9:00 or so. The show is 21 and up and the tickets are $20.00.
If for some reason you weren’t aware, it’s PRIDE Weekend this weekend. You know, that time of year when it feels like we don’t live in such a backwards state, but then our governor puts his foot in his mouth? While there are events planned all over the city, I think I can safely say that most of us look forward to the fabulous parade. This year should have all the glam and love we all look forward too, with tons of corporate sponsors thrown in who probably don’t know what PRIDE is all about. The parade gets started at 1:00 for some reason, which means someone who doesn’t know how hot it is here in June was possibly the planner. It gets going at Montrose & Commonwealth, so pack some sunscreen and be kind to one another.
Of course, once you’ve cooled down from the PRIDE parade, you’d be best to make it over to Fitzgerald’s to check out noise rock pioneers, SWANS. I don’t know if I can accurately convey the importance of these guys to music today. Bands like Sonic Youth, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Fucked Up would have no relevance without SWANS. Some have called their sound experimental while others have compared their work to that of Chester Burnett, AKA Howlin’ Wolf. In reality, both descriptions are accurate, as moments of their music can have the pace and simplicity of stripped down blues; while other elements of multi-instrumentation and noise composition can also be present. No matter what you call it, it’s something you need to see live. I caught them when they reformed in 2010 and I was really mesmerized by how intense simplicity can be. The band is touring in support of their most recent effort, the recently released “To Be Kind.” If that’s not a hard enough sell for you, the synth pop avant garde goodness of California’s Xiu Xiu will be getting things started. Their most recent album, this year’s “Unclouded Sky” brings more of their interesting mix to the table and should make for an interesting performance. This show will sell out, so plan accordingly with doors at 8:00 and tickets ranging between $21.00 and $25.00.
If you care about people who can’t afford to eat, or buy food in Galveston, then Scout Bar has the show for you. The Will Play For Food show on Saturday will feature fourteen bands who are playing and giving their pay away to the less fortunate. Without naming every act, it’s best just to say that the pop rock of Houston’s Fox & Cats, the bluegrass of Blackgrass Gospel, and the reggae dub of Cassette Tape will be on hand. The doors are at 7:00, the show is 18 & up, and the tickets are $10.00, all of which will go to the Galveston Food Bank. With entry, every ticket holder will also receive a shirt & a CD sampler of the bands playing.
Now, even though I just said why you should go see SWANS, that doesn’t mean there aren’t just as many reasons to go see Nashville’s Diarrhea Planet; ironically downstairs at Fitzgerald’s also on Saturday. When I first heard these guys, I was blown away by their garage rock meets pop punk sound. When I found out that they had four guitarists, I was even more impressed and I didn’t make fun of them like I did about Lynyrd Skynyrd having three. Last year these guys released an amazing album titled, “I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.” It has a magical mix that sounds like what would happen if PAWS and The Ramones formed a metal band, but they didn’t really sound like metal. They’re bringing some real southern blues rock with Alabama’s Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. You know how there’s a whole generation who thinks The Black Keys are real southern blues? Well, that’s a lie because these guys are what Dan Auerbach wished his band sounded like. This should be a pretty energetic and chaotic live show, and it’s a steal with tickets ranging from $10.00 to $14.00. The doors are at 8:00.
Then, if you just didn’t have enough options on Saturday, there’s also Choke! The Comedy Game Show, happening over at Beta Theater. What can you say about a live comedy game show that is hosted by the hilarious Nick Meriwether that I haven’t boasted about before? Some of Houston’s funniest people put this on once a month over at Beta, and it’s almost always packed full of people who can’t stop laughing. It’ll also feature Ty Mahany, Amy Birkhead, Jim Meyers, and Brian Zeolla; which is to say, you’re gonna laugh hard. Things get rolling at 8:00, and it’s a BYOB show that should even offer gratis adult beverages; and a $5.00 cover. There will also by some DJ’ing going on afterwards and a showing of the film, “Class of 1984.”
On Sunday, you can make your way over to The House of Blues to catch ska punk outfit Reel Big Fish. It’s funny how once bands go to the indie label world, how they don’t release albums as frequently. So, it feels weird to say that their last album is two years old; but it’s true. You can’t call it a cash grab until the album turns five, but it’s still strange to see. Anyway, if you like Reel, then I’m sure you’ll go. If you didn’t know who they are before reading this, you should totally go. They’re a fun band who puts on a pretty energetic live show, and the aforementioned album, “Candy Coated Fury” keeps their fun sound tradition going. New Jersey’s ska punk eight piece, Survay Says! should get the crowd in a whipped up fury, while The Magnificent should make you think of The Ramones and early Against Me! when they get things started. The doors for the show are at 7:00 and the tickets are $27.58…seriously, that’s what their website says.
If you couldn’t get enough of Fitz, or you just don’t like ska; then you can make it over to Fitzgerald’s downstairs for The Menzingers. You could call these guys pop punk, but it’s just really good pop rock with punk overtones. Their latest album, “Rented World” is just downright amazing, and the rumor is that they put on a great live show. As a fan of bands like That Dog, Superchunk, and the like; I seriously can’t wait to see Lemuria; who’ll also be on this show. They have an infectious indie sound that is only made better by their singer’s pop like vocals, and their 2013 release, “The Distance Is So Big” was truly amazing. The chaotic noise rock of Pup will also be on board, while Cayetana should make Philly proud with their indie pop sounds when they open up the show. The doors are at 6:30 and the cover falls between $14.00 and $18.00; and this is one of those shows you really shouldn’t miss out on.
Of course, if you really like Coldplay but you can’t wait for them to come to town, you could just go see The Fray over at Bayou Music Center on Sunday. To me, The Fray sound like if James Blunt released an album of Coldplay covers, and he had Maroon 5 as his backing band. But, I don’t decide who is worth listening to, so if you’re a fan; just go and have fun. In a sheer twist of irony, a band from Seattle called Barcelona, who also kind of sounds like The Fray will be opening up the show. The doors are at 7:30 and the tickets are between $39.50 and $49.50.
On Monday, if you think you’re funny, if your friends or family think you’re funny; or even if you’re in your third year of attempting a career in comedy; Beta Theater is hosting a sign up night for their Beta Bracket Comedy Competition. Here’s a handful of reasons why you should sign up, one, you’re going to learn a lot. Any professional comic will tell you that you have to hone your act to work in a variety of rooms in front of a variety of crowds, and the competition takes place at Phoenicia MKT Bar this year, where the crowd will constantly change. Two, the experience of seeing all types of comics from up and comers to those with some serious stage presence. The third reason is the prize money, as I don’t know one comic who isn’t or hasn’t been teetering on the brink of poverty. This year the grand prize is $2,000.00 and a Live comedy recording at Heights Vinyl, that will be cut to vinyl. The second prize is $500.00 and the third place is $200.00; plus the registration cost is only $20.00. Monday the 30th is the last day to register, so it only makes sense that you’d high tail it over to Beta and sign up. This year’s host will be seasoned comic Bob Biggerstaff, so you’ll also get to tell people you shared a stage with him & it won’t be a lie.
It’s just another week full of epic awesomeness that seems to be happening around here lately. It actually feels like our city is just as cool as every travel magazine says it is. No matter what you do this week, please be mindful of those around you, and enjoy the PRIDE Parade in all it’s glory.