Something for Everyone at Houston Record Convention

Categories: Last Night

Photos by David Sackllah
Even in the early afternoon, the Houston Record Convention saw healthy foot traffic.
As I walked into the Houston Hilton Southwest to go to the first Houston Record Convention of the year, I saw a man walking beside me in an Iron Maiden shirt and a couple in matching Led Zeppelin shirts, leaving with a bag of records and excitedly talking about the new Madonna records they just bought. I knew I had come to the right place.

For a record collector, or just anyone with an interest in vinyl who happens to own an old turntable, walking into a record store must be a similar feeling for when a ten-year old walks into a Lego store. Crates of records stood everywhere, with thousands of vinyl discs surrounding you.

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The Suffers Celebrate New EP With Sold-Out Party

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Greg Noire
Suffers singer Kam Franklin had no trouble being heard over Saturday's sold-out crowd.
The Suffers
January 24, 2015

Saturday night at Fitzgerald's was a celebratory event for the Suffers, the local soul band who has spent the last week promoting the release of their debut EP, Make Some Room. The band, who played a Red Bull Sound Select show at Warehouse Live last month, sold out the upstairs room at the historic venue, and the excitement was palpable.

Most bands who play there don't get big introductions before taking the stage, but the Suffers had two notable Houstonians take the microphone to express their admiration. First up was esteemed rapper and advice columnist Willie D, who was giddy as he led the
crowd in singing along the theme songs of '80s sitcoms like Cheers and Good Times. He referred to the Suffers as one of his favorite bands of all time, and gave a warm shoutout to FPSF before bringing out Pegstar and Fitzgerald's owner Jagi Kaital to introduce the band. Kaital proceeded to give an impassioned speech about the evening and what it meant to him.

"I want you to realize what we're celebrating tonight," Kaital said. "When was the last time a Houston band sold out Fitzgerald's without putting an EP out? When was the last time an Austin band did that? This band is going to be huge. One day we'll be wearing shirts that say 'Keep Austin where it belongs, 186 miles away.'"

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John Doe Makes It Easy to Root for the Underdog

Photos by David Ensminger
L-R: Cindy Wasserman and John Doe tore it up at the Duck Thursday night.
John Doe, Jesse Dayton
McGonigel's Mucky Duck
January 22, 2015

With his rich baritone quiver and chiseled American looks, John Doe has been an uber-indie songwriter who survived the swells of his bands X and Knitters while honing a singular style all his own. As co-helmsman and titanic presence in X, he became a gutsy, savvy working-class songster effortlessly channeling Bukowski and the Beats in the ragged glory years of L.A. nights at the Masque and Whisky a Go-Go, where plentiful sweat, scrawled manic graffiti, and mangled three-chord wonders held sway in 1978.

As a gripping poet at heart and fluid-fingered bass player, he remains an unparalleled force that made formerly 'unheard music,' lurid punk with doses of rockabilly and country twang, go viral in the days of watered down college-rock. In the middle of hardcore's buzz-cut scorn and Hollywood Boulevard's leotarded cock-rock, X held their ground as ductile anchors as both the bile and glam swirled.

Decades later, as beards and skinny pants reign, Doe's authentic underdog spirit keeps aglow in the digital landscape of fakery and fuss. He is the grain of salt in the knowledge economy.

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Machine Head Powers Through 20 Years of Metal at Fitz

Photos by Jack Gorman
The hair says it all.
Machine Head
January 22, 2015

The line stretching around the block outside of Fitzgerald's on Thursday night was the kind that makes you wonder how the heck everyone is going to fit into the creaky, old place. It was a truly intimidating mass of people, shivering in black, and if anyone driving past wondered just who this lip-ringed throng had assembled to hear, they didn't have to wonder long.

"Machine Head!" screamed somebody, as he stared at his own breath. "Machine fuckin' Head!" hollered another. "Lincoln Durham!" yelled a third guy, pimping the night's downstairs act. But that chant didn't catch on.

After eight albums and 20 years touring the world's heavy-metal strongholds, Machine Head is just a little too big in Houston to be playing Fitzgerald's, even on a weeknight. The club was about to become uncomfortably full. As the long line slowly shuffled up the stairs, they were greeted by hellish red stage lights and the sobering realization that crammed-full crowd would offer no escape from the wild pit certain to erupt greeted fans.

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Sam Baker Sings a Few Life-Affirming Sad Songs at the Duck

Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
L-R: Dolan, Baker and Elkin
Sam Baker
McGonigel's Mucky Duck
January 17, 2015

Just after he finished the song, "Odessa," about midway through his Saturday-night set at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, songwriter Sam Baker ruminated on just how sad a song it is. So sad, he said, he believed it was on a Rolling Stone list of saddest songs ever about Texas.

"I don't know," said his bandmate Carrie Elkin. "I feel like we have sadder songs than that."

The truth is those songs performed live have the opposite effect of moroseness. A capacity room on hand for Saturday's early show at the Mucky Duck must have left the venue feeling invigorated and alive, because no matter what -- or better yet, who -- the song is about, Baker delivers it with joy and gratitude.

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Long Live the King -- King Tuff, Ex Hex, Young Mammals at Walter's, 01/13

Susan Wyatt
King Tuff Summoning Spirits to Aid Him in His Conquest

"Girls and boys come from outer space and so does music too/I learned more workin' at the record store than I ever did in high school."

Many pupils of Marc Bolan understood how to play and perform glam better than their instruments. Siouxie and the Banshees covered "20th Century Boy", but it lacked the Bolan's irony. Sadly, Power Station released "Get It On" and drained from it any potential pleasure of listening to the original version ever again. King Tuff (aka Kyle Thomas) understands Professor Bolan well enough to venture out into this magical galaxy of ours to become master and commander of any planet in any solar system that he desires.

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Spoon Turns House of Blues Inside Out

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Spoon brought out both the diehards and "soundtrack fans" to House of Blues Tuesday.
House of Blues
December 30, 2014

Beloved Austin band Spoon's audience is comprised of two different types of individuals: 1) people who love the band; and 2) people that love the band but have no idea who they are. But how can this be?

Spoon is one of many groups that have continued to gain popularity during a time of major change in the music industry. In a previous world where a band's success would lead to massive radio play, arena tours and high record sales, Spoon's success has continued to grow in a post-iTunes world through different avenues. Their music (not unlike other indie bands) has been featured in commercials and soundtracks for many movies and television shows.

Not to mention, Spoon manages to pop up in the algorithm of just about every male-led rock band on any given streaming site; seriously, try typing in the National, Interpol, Phoenix, or even Tom Petty, and Spoon is going to make multiple cameos. Their sound has slipped into the public's musical lexicon without any notice -- unless we are speaking of active fans. Tuesday night's House of Blues show was full of true Spoon fans who love and follow the group, as well as people that were not even aware that they had been fans for years.

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Less Talk, More Rock as Propagandhi Storms Warehouse Live

Photos by Jack Gorman
Canada's Propaghandi had Houston ready to pogo Monday.
The fog lay heavy over town Monday night, but the guitars were crisp in the Studio at Warehouse Live as War on Women and RVIVR primed Houston for Propagandhi.

The studio was just over half full when War on Women began the night with a fury of shredding guitars, pounding drums and Shawna Potter's crazed eyes as she shouted lyrics that admonished cat-calling and raised awareness of other issues. She ended the set with a most unexpected statement to hear at a punk show, "You guys have been super sweet."

Houston immediately took to the melodic tunes of RVIVR, a four-piece out of Olympia, Wash., though they stopped playing during the first song when about six people started pogoing and bouncing into each other. Guitarist/vocalist Erica Freas told them to be respectful and not bash into one another. Between songs, the group heavily championed gender equality, women's rights and admonished police brutality in a strong set that left the crowd was pumped and ready for more action.

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Paul Wall Caps 10 Hours of H-Town Love at Winterfest

Photos by Catherine Darshad
The People's Champ: Paul Wall
Houston, H-town, The H -- whichever moniker you prefer, you definitely heard it at Eastdown Warehouse's Winterfest Friday night.

The event gathered nearly two dozen local acts of every ilk, something organizer Visionary Noise is rather adept at. It's a glorious thing when it really works, even for smallish crowds -- as it did Friday night. The roster leaned toward hip hop artists and was headlined by Houston rap legend Paul Wall. His fans came dressed to be ogled. Twenty minutes before he hit the stage, thrashgrass punks Days N Daze performed for their fans, who were dressed to be "oogled." (Full disclosure: my son is in that band. And yes, he too was geeked for Paul Wall.)

The bond these bands shared was they were almost entirely Houston-based. They didn't mind mentioning it, either. Maybe being booked with Wall, who incessantly extols the virtues of being from Houston, created a sense of civic pride in the acts, who thanked, shouted out to and even sang about Hustletown (my preferred Houston reference).

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Wild Moccasins, New Groups Shine at Walters' Third Anniversary

Photos by David Sackllah
Keep an eye on Rose Ette, whose catchy indie-pop tunes charmed Friday's packed crowd.
Walters Downtown's Third Anniversary
Feat. Wild Moccasins, Rose Ette, Black Kite, DJ Flash Gordon Parks
Walters Downtown
December 26, 2014

Friday night at Walters was a festive occasion, as the venue celebrated its third birthday at its downtown location after moving away from its spot on Washington. The venue has had a rough year after losing founder Pam Robinson in October, but it was still a real treat to see three of Houston's more exciting bands play to a packed crowd.

Filled with three great Houston acts as well as birthday cake and lots of dancing, the evening had enough that most cynical hearts couldn't help but have a good time.
Opening up and filling in between sets, local DJ Flash Gordon Parks kept the night funky, playing disco remixes of new singles by Pharrell and D'Angelo, while also throwing in hits from Santigold and MGMT to appeal to the predominately indie-leaning crowd.

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