FPSF Taking Some Heat for R. Kelly Booking

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Photo courtesy of RCA Records
"Yall keep your teenage daughters safe during FPSF with r kelly being in town," says @the_sassy_salvy on Twitter, one of many users to voice displeasure with the singer's appearance at the festival.
Free Press Summer Fest's booking of R. Kelly, the R&B star who has been dogged by allegations of sexual improprieties for decades, is striking a sour note with some people on social media. Others, however, seem perfectly fine with the idea. City of Houston officials, on whose property FPSF is scheduled to take place June 6 and 7, have thus far kept mum on the situation.

Kelly is billed second on this year's FPSF lineup, below only Skrillex and above Weezer, Steve Angello, St. Vincent, Mastodon, Belle & Sebastian and the Decemberists. Perhaps the people in charge are banking on fans' enthusiasm for the festival's other performers outweighing their disdain of the Chicago-based singer responsible for hit songs like "Your Body's Callin'," "Ignition (Remix)" and "I Believe I Can Fly." Omar Afra, co-founder of FPSF, declined comment until the outcome of a meeting Monday evening, where he was planning to discuss the matter with a group of "old friends and buddies."

"All I can say until we meet with these guys and know if they're even asking for anything, is that we're meeting with them tonight and we're glad to hear them out," Afra said. "We've always been available to the community to discuss any concerns, and we still are now."


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Bad Ass Weekend 1: Third Installment Lives Up to Name

Categories: Current Events

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Photo by David Sackllah
Virginia's Deceased put quite a few of the younger acts at Bad Ass Weekend to shame.
For the third year in a row, Houston's Bad Ass Weekend, a three-day festival focusing on all different types of metal and punk music, lived up to its name. The last couple of days leading up to the festival were filled with a few last minute band cancellations due to weather and unfortunate run-ins with law enforcement, but nothing enough to derail the festival.

Organized by founders JC Newton and Jaron Sayers, BAW was spread across Fitzgerald's, Walters, Mango's, Rudyard's and Black Barbie. In the week leading up to the festival, the founders warned people on Facebook to arrive early to the smaller venues because they would fill up, but the weekend turned out to be more successful than anticipated as Fitzgerald's ended up selling out on Saturday night.

The weekend started off focusing on punk, with Fitzgerald's hosting a wide array of hardcore and crust-punk bands. Government Issue, the influential '80s D.C. band playing a handful of one-off reunion shows, led the hardcore acts upstairs. They sounded good, but their age showed in singer John Stabb's "dad" jokes and more than a few false starts to songs. While they did a good job, the younger local acts stole the show.

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The 12 Most Exciting Acts at Bad Ass Weekend III

Categories: Current Events

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Photo by Groovehouse
Headliners Napalm Death at House of Blues in 2013
Written by David Sackllah and Nathan Smith

A date that has been blacked out on the calendars of Houston's gnarliest music fans has finally arrived: Bad Ass Weekend III is here at last. Assembling quite a collection of the baddest-ass and most brutal acts from the local and international punk, metal and grindcore scenes, this homegrown festival is primed and ready to mosh the living daylights out of crowds stretching from Fitzgerald's to Walter's to Mango's and Rudyard's over the next three nights, and if you aren't planning on attending, it's only proper that you take off that patch-covered battle jacket and turn it in to the proper authorities. You're officially mainstream.

There are so many bands playing across multiple stages this weekend (don't forget the afterparties!) that no human being, no matter how drug-crazed, could possibly see them all. Even if it were possible, it damn sure wouldn't be healthy. In order that you might put together a respectable plan of action, however, your buds at Rocks Off have put together this handy list of highlights to make sure that you don't miss out on the most exciting stuff.

Whatever flavor of auditory violence you're into, there's a little something to satisfy the bloodlust in everyone on this list. It's going to get wild, so go ahead and accept that now. Just remember, above all else, to tip your bartender and to bring your own glue, 'cause we ain't sharing.


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Dress Code Helps Expand Houston Hardcore Scene

Categories: Current Events

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Photo by David Sackllah
The men of Dress Code (L-R): Drummer Carson Wilcox; guitarist Esteban Rubio; vocalist Brandon Mahler; guitarist Jacob Duarte and bassist Daniel Ortuno.
While Houston has always maintained a steady roster of hardcore and punk bands to be proud of, there has undoubtedly been a resurgence in the past couple years. The scene now boasts a growing scene of young, interconnected hardcore acts, which have been working to foster a tight community of diverse yet like-minded individuals. On the forefront of that has been Dress Code, an energetic and abrasive young band of five who started playing together in early 2013 and released their swift but brutal demo on cassette this past fall on Schizoid Unit Records.

The self-titled demo contains five songs of heavy, powerful hardcore that hits like a brick to the face. Energetic, forceful and meaningful, the release is one of the stronger to come out of Houston in the past year. Birthed out of the Houston hardcore scene, the songs are about issues going on within it. On standout "I Disagree," the song ends with vocalist Brandon Mahler shouting, "We don't have to get along."

"I feel like with hardcore there a lot of things that separate it," Mahler says. "I feel like we should have unity but it's not going to be there all the time. There are people in hardcore you're not going to agree with. We don't have to get along. You can just be here and it can be cool. Everyone has different issues and things they're trying to get away from."

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Does Anybody Care About the Super Bowl Halftime Show Anymore?

Categories: Current Events

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Photo by bikephotomusic/Flickr Commons
When it comes to Katy Perry, you're hot and you're cold
The short answer to the headline directing readers to the next several paragraphs is: it depends.

Isn't that the truest answer to any query about a thing and whether it is relevant? Is Led Zeppelin still an influential rock and roll band in 2015? To some, albeit a shrinking demographic, the answer is yes. Is Paul McCartney as important to modern music as Kanye West? We all recall your opinions on that one.

If you don't enjoy football, music, fireworks (100 percent certain you'll get those during the halftime show), the generally agreed upon hotness of Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz, or things that are ridiculously spectacular, the answer is "No, this does not matter." A follow-up question might ask what went so wrong in your life that you can't find the joy in even one of these awesome things, but to each his or her own.


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Houston Record Convention Returns to Bull Vinyl Market

Categories: Current Events

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Photos Courtesy of David Ritz
Crate-diggers from all over the area will converge on the Hilton Houston Southwest this weekend.
At this point, the struggles that the record industry have been facing are well documented. Physical album sales are on the decline, and overall album sales fell 9% in 2014. Even digital album sales decreased at a similar rate over the course of last year, due in most part to the rise of streaming services like Spotify.

But olne area where album sales have been increasing is vinyl, where sales increased by 52 percent in 2014 to more than 3 million records sold. While it's nowhere near the volume that sales were back in the pre-CD era of the '70s, it represents a steady and robust growth area in an industry in decline.

Record collectors in Houston have a wealth of great stores to pick from, from larger shops like Cactus Music to smaller, more specialized ones like Vinal Edge Records and Sound Exchange. This Sunday offers another chance for local vinyl enthusiasts to get their fix. The Houston Record Convention, which is put on by Dave Ritz six times a year, will put on its first show of 2014 at the Hilton Houston Southwest.


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Adios, Casey Kasem: Keep Reaching for the Stars

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"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

It's good advice that was delivered weekly for dozens of years by Casey Kasem. The radio personality, whose American Top 40 countdown was a pop-culture fixture for more than 40 years, passed away on Father's Day at the age of 82.

You may have seen the recent stories about his waning health or the unfortunate infighting occurring within his family. Since this is Rocks Off and not Inside Edition, we'll focus on what made Kasem important to music.


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Goooooooal!! A Mostly Musical Guide to Enjoying the World Cup

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Photo courtesy of nikeinc.com
U.S. Men's National Soccer fans, HAIM
When did World Cup soccer start mattering to U.S. fans? I know many of us have doled out orange slices and cursed at volunteer officials at youth league games, but interest in the pro soccer pitch is apparently now at fever pitch.

The global football tournament begins this afternoon and won't end until the finalists square off for a true world title in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Whether you care about FIFA, spot kicks or wall passes (these are soccer terms, people), you have to admit there's nothing like a month-long party.

If you don't think World Cup soccer has anything to do with music, think again, mon frere. In celebration of the planet's largest single sport tournament, here's a music-oriented guide to the games.


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Feast Your Ears on BeatKing's Awesome Jay Z/Solange Freestyle

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The cover of BeatKing's Gangsta Stripper Music 2 mixtape, due next month
Monday, the Earth shook.

Well, not really, but if you deal with gossip the way journalists, social-media commentators and those who wield Photoshop for evil purposes, Solange fighting Jay Z in an elevator shook everything imaginable.

The days that have followed have been awkward. The facade of privacy that Beyoncé and Jay have put up for a solid decade (forever, in Bey's case) finally cracked a bit. Speculation about the couple's marriage flared up, their "IV" tattoos were either visible or completely gone in recent photos, and some questioned whether Jay really learned anything outside "block" in his Tae Bo classes. Did Tae Bo ever teach us anything that Hip Hop Abs didn't? All of this matters.


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Cynic's Big Admission Threatens Metal's Homophobia

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By now Cynic are legends in the metal scene. In 1993, they released their magnum opus Focus before quietly disbanding, but the album's impact was fully felt in the realms of technical and progressive metal, influencing younger bands for years to come.

They repeated the feat with 2008's reunion record Traced in Air, and have been chugging along ever since as one of the most celebrated and beloved prog-metal acts around. Oh, and principal members/songwriters Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, without whom the band would not exist, are gay.

It's been an open secret for years, but the pair have come forward in their first major interview to discuss life as gay metal musicians, operating within a scene which has traditionally been less than open-minded or accepting of alternative lifestyles. This is a huge step for everyone in the metal community, and here's why.


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