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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Down Leads a Southern-Metal Feast at Warehouse Live

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Phil Anselmo (right) looked a little fatigued Sunday, but his bandmates and Down and a supportive crowd put him over the hump.
Down, Orange Goblin, Marzi Montazeri
Warehouse Live
December 21, 2014

Regardless of age, sometimes fatigue can simply get you. It appeared to take hold of Phil Anselmo Sunday night, when his sludge-metal supergroup Down closed out the three-day End of the World Fest III at Warehouse Live. Band members from other Southern-metal groups Eyehategod, Honky, Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera and Crowbar plowed through one dozen songs from Down's catalog lasting nearly two hours.

Before "Eyes of the South" got into a full groove, Anselmo walked to the side of the stage where a large group of people were standing and gave Marzi Montazeri, Houston favorite and his bandmate from the Illegals, a huge hug.

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Red Bull's Sound Select Program Picks a Pair of Houston Winners

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Francisco Montes
Fat Tony (left) joined the Suffers during the Suffers' raucous set.
It's been a long time coming for the Tontons and the Suffers, two of the most highly touted groups to come out of Houston in the past few years, but Friday night's show at Warehouse Live may have been a jumping-off point.

Opening for Lee Fields and the Expressions for the Red Bull "Sound Select" program, Warehouse Live reached capacity just after 9 p.m. as the Tontons were beginning their set. By the time the Suffers took the stage, navigating from the middle of the crowd to the bar had become a chore.

Those in attendance who failed to RSVP found themselves pressed up alongside the outside wall as they braced against the bitter Houston wind, hoping for a way in. ("Cold" is, of course, relative for us Houstonians.)

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Fleetwood Mac Thrills Toyota Center for Two-Plus Hours

Photos by Jack Gorman
Have Shawl, Will Travel: Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood (back)
Fleetwood Mac
Toyota Center
December 15, 2014

The Mac Attack is Back! And with the Songbird back in the nest, the Chain has been reforged, and seems stronger than ever.

Okay, that may be a little heavy on the symbols and metaphors. But it's hard to overestimate the importance the Fleetwood Mac's return to its classic mid-'70s to mid-'80s lineup of Lindsey Buckingham (vocals/guitar), Stevie Nicks (vocals), namesake rhythm section Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), and returning vocalist/keyboardist Christine McVie.

So many references were made by other band members onstage to McVie's unlikely and never-thought-possible comeback after 16 years (she had retired to her English castle, vowing never to make music again), that no one would have blamed her for blushing, even nearly 40 dates into this reunion tour.

Every classic-rock band of any importance or longevity has gone through lineup changes -- including Fleetwood Mac, whose origins stretch back to 1967 as a straight-up, all-English blues band. But there just seems something so...right about this lineup reconstituting. Take out any one of the five, and it's just not the same.

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RL Grime and Lunice Prove to Be Monsters of Bass

Photos by Julian Bajsel
Behold, the hivemind.
RL Grime, Lunice
Warehouse Live
December 10, 2014

From recognizable forms such as trap and dubstep to the (potentially made up) more nebulous genres like deathstep and heaven trap, bass music is on the rise. While it may not have its hooks into popular culture the way that more established genres like house and trance do, if you've spent any time at dance shows over the past few years, you'll have noticed more and more bass music.

Teens and young adults love the stuff. This is no surprise, as the current generation is one of the first that has known rap music their entire life. Rap isn't edgy or foreign anymore; if it's good enough for Tim McGraw, it's good enough for Middle America.

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Ryan Adams Charms Yet Another Loutish Houston Crowd

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Ryan Adams, still the best hair in rock and roll.
Ryan Adams
Bayou Music Center
December 3, 2014

The story of Ryan Adams' performance at Bayou Music Center Wednesday night can be boiled down to one song called "Amstar." Born of something a fan shouted at the stage, the word was deemed by Adams to be the name of an especially disagreeable intergalactic supervillain with an appetite for shitty weed and other mood-altering ingestibles, so the 40-year-old singer and his four-piece band worked up an impromptu Pink Floyd-style space-rock jam about him.

This "Amstar" turned out to be a pretty decent tune, too; maybe it will even end up on an album sometime. It came toward the end of Adams' two-hour set, and made a fine example of not only his band's musical interplay but the way they were able to prevent the sometimes-unruly audience (more on them later) from seizing the upper hand.

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Ace Frehley Makes KISS Army Wait for It at Scout Bar

Photos by David Rozycki
Ace Frehley didn't go on until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, but he made it worth the wait.
Ace Frehley
Scout Bar
December 2, 2014

Members of the KISS Army started to grow a little restless Tuesday, as the night closed in on 11 p.m. and Ace Frehley had not appeared on the Scout Bar stage. An hour earlier, the crowd had chanted "We Want Ace!" and "Bring on Ace!" As time continued to tick forward with no appearance, one man in the crowd shouted, "Hurry up, Ace, get your old-man ass out here!" The frustrated crowd then started chanting, "Bullshit! Bullshit!" around 10:56 p.m., followed by a few boos.

An unverified rumor going around the crowd was that Ace was busy backstage with a large number of fans who paid for the V.I.P. Experience package, which included a meet-and-greet and personal photo with Ace before the show. As 11:20 p.m. rolled around, some concerned fans started to ask each other whether there was a curfew in place that would not allow the concert to go forward at all.

But finally, around 11:30 p.m., a recording of Frehley's song "Fractured Mirror" began to play and Ace and his band hit the stage to open with "Rip It Out" from his 1978 self-titled solo album. The crowd erupted in cheers, and the long wait had seemingly been forgiven.

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