Houston Music Invades San Fran's Hotel Utah

Categories: On the Road

Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Greetings from San Francisco
My family and I recently vacationed on the West Coast. However you do your vacation, I hope you're doing it well. As for us, we got zombified for Hope For Young Adults With Cancer. We drove along the edges of a massive California forest fire and shot a music video at the Salton Sea, among other, less-apocalyptic leisure activities.

One of the places we visited was the Hotel Utah Saloon in San Francisco. The bar opened in 1908, survived Prohibition and continues today, with music offered nightly. We were there for its open-mike night, and my kids played the same stage that once was a proving ground for Whoopi Goldberg and the late Robin Williams.

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The Best and Worst of ACL Fest, Weekend 1

Photos by Marco Torres
Best Act That We Didn't Understand How They Were Making Noise: The Glitch Mob
With a battery of touchscreens and drum triggers, The Glitch Mob dropped what was the most impressive set of electronica on the festival, which is saying a lot on a bill that features some of the biggest DJs in the world. Their set was a fun mixture of originals and remixes, including a filthy cover of "Seven Nation Army." Tired of seeing dudes peering down at laptops? The Glitch Mob got your back, even if you're not exactly sure what's going on up onstage. CORY GARCIA

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Growing Crowds Can't Spoil UtopiaFest's Blissful Vibe

Photos by Jim Bricker
During Aaron Behrens & the Midnight Stroll's Friday-evening set, while the dancing crowd was surrounded by the darkened hillsides that surround UtopiaFest, the singer said, "I don't feel like we're a part of any continent or country, I just feel like we're floating in space." That sentiment wasn't too far off from the truth, and seemed to be shared by the multitudes of new faces who took roost in scattered campsites throughout the festival grounds.

That seemed to be the theme of the weekend, too. While all those who had experienced UtopiaFest before were there, this time they seemed to had brought their friends. And their friend's friends. And their parents and kids, too. UtopiaFest was a noticeably larger animal this year, which became evident before the festival reached capacity Saturday afternoon.

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Fat Tony's Fall Function Turns Up All the Way

Photos by Marco Torres
Does Fat Tony know how to throw a party? The answer will always and forever be "Hell Yeah!" With the help of sponsor Remy Martin, Tony invited his Houston homies DJ Good Grief, Bombón and Rai P to assist him with the kickoff soiree for his upcoming tour. Our own Marco Torres sent in this visual summary of the event, held this past Saturday at The Summit, a new-ish venue located at 3536 Navigation Blvd. in the East End.

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UtopiaFest Again Beckons Southwest's Free Spirits

Photo by Jim Bricker
A scene from UtopiaFest 2013
For the sixth year running, this weekend a little slice of heaven known as UtopiaFest will take over the Four Sisters Ranch in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, just outside the quaint village of Utopia and about two hours northwest of San Antonio, Nearly 2,000 kind folk will be descend on the outdoor camping festival to take in sets starting tonight and going through the wee hours of Sunday morning,

If you missed it last year, I gave you the ten reasons you should go; that's well worth a read, especially if you already plan on attending and have never been, or are on the fence and need a last-minute kick in the ass to make your decision for you.

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Mad Decent Block Party's Central Texas Stop Was Pretty Good All Right

Photos by Marco Torres
Houston's own Wrestlers warmed up the stage.
After a last-minute request and approval to cover the New Braunfels stop of the Mad Decent Block Party, Rocks Off's own Marco Torres sent in this visual summary of the event, held this past Saturday at the Whitewater Amphitheater.

Liz added attitude, style and a feminine touch to the Block Party.

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Quantic Sways MFAH Crowd With Tropical Swing

Photo by Marco Torres
Quantic Music
Mixed Media Series
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
August 22, 2014

About halfway through Quantic's set this past Friday evening amid the art of the MFAH's Cullen Sculpture Garden, DJ Sun shuffled excitiedly towards the area immediately behind the stage, dancing, hands raised up to Heaven and grinning wildly. "That's from my country!" he shouted at British-born DJ and producer Will Holland, better known as Quantic.

It was a special moment between the two vinyl enthusiasts, both of whom prefer to spin 45-rpm records without the crutch of a laptop. The song in question was "Opete Kwasi" by Suriname artist Sopiang Kawina. And not only did Sun dig it, but the crowd accepted it and every other selection that night with the upmost respect and energy as they experienced one of the most noteworthy DJ sets the city has experienced this year.

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Mario Rodriguez of Bang Bangz Talks Touring Mexico and Wonky Power

photo by Michael Gault

The soul of a good musician is usually restless and ambitious, always ready to expand their sound and talent towards as many ears and hearts as possible. Houston is blessed with many such individuals, including Mario Rodriguez, the curly-haired, bespectacled, wonky frontman of the electro-pop group Bang Bangz. We caught up with Mario as he and the band prepare to embark on a week-long tour of several venues in and around Mexico City.

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Will H-Town Acts Impress Mile High City Fans?

Nick and his new CD, straight from Houston
My ongoing commitment to the young adults I parent is strong. Occasionally, it leads to weekends like one late last month, which included 30-plus hours of driving to and from Denver to help my daughter, who lives in nearby Boulder.

Errands aside, my wife and I had about six waking hours in the Mile High City, which wasn't much, but was enough to check out the music scene. It was a perfect weekend for that, since the Denver Post was holding its annual Underground Music Showcase. Better known as "UMS," it brought together dozens of Denver's best local acts, plus regional and national artists, like People Under the Stairs and Blonde Redhead.

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A Long-Overdue Trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Part of the original set from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" tour in 1979-80
While it's true that my Bucket List could be contained in a fairly small bucket, a big one got checked off recently when I was able to finally stroll into that big ass glass pyramid on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland: I had arrived at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Though it was established in 1983 and began inducting members shortly thereafter, the physical building did not open until 1995. The Museum's six levels host thousands of artifacts, interactive displays, video screens and jukeboxes, two theaters, and enough nooks and crannies to keep even the most casual music fan occupied for hours.

I was there for five, and could have easily spent five more. Or just move in there for a week or so. Though I think security might question a guy with a sleeping bag at the foot of Howlin' Wolf's guitar.

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