Pentatonix's A Cappella Cool Proves the Future Is Now

Categories: Concerts, Pop Life

Photos by Ivan Guzman
Bayou Music Center
March 25, 2015

As Pentatonix performed to a filled Bayou Music Center on Wednesday night, they barely ever took their microphones from their faces. This wasn't because of nerves or lip-syncing (I would re-think my entire life) or anything of that sort, but simply due to the sheer volume of singing each member constantly had to do in order to make their sound what it is.

And after being taken aback multiple times last night by the mind-bending harmonies and brilliant arrangements of their cover songs, I'm more than content sacrificing some forced choreography break for the sheer vocal acumen that was delivered by the group. The only things Pentatonix's stage consists of is a set of stairs, some lights, and a screen to display graphics and whatnot, all of which shows a sort of something-out-of-nothing, cutting-the-fat philosophy that the a cappella group has maintained their entire career and seem to thrive off of.

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Dance Music May Rise and Fall, But Disco Donnie Is Here to Stay

Categories: Pop Life

Photo by Rucks/Courtesy of Magnum PR
UME 2014: Party in the wave pool!
The coming of Spring means a lot of things: warmer temperatures, better movies in theaters and the beginning of music-festival season. From now right until around the time that Fun Fun Fun Fest ends on a cold night in November, Texas is going to be packed with festivals almost every weekend.

In the realm of dance music, there's a lot to look forward to. Something Wicked may seem far away in October, but for those dance fans willing to road trip, there's plenty to be excited about right now, including Ultimate Music Experience 2015 down in South Padre.

It takes a lot of people to put on a festival these days, and if you've gone to your share of them in Texas, there's a name you may have seen over and over: Disco Donnie Presents. It's a company and it's a brand, but it's also a person. Yes, dance fans, Disco Donnie is real and he's doing his part to give you nights to remember.

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10 More Acts Who Could Take R. Kelly's FPSF Spot

Photo by Jim Bricker
Would an Arcade Fire "homecoming" make a suitable FPSF palate-cleanser?
Here it is almost two weeks later, and we're still talking about Free Press Summer Fest inviting controversial Chicago R&B star R. Kelly as one of this year's headliners. Until he is either stricken from the bill or takes the stage at Eleanor Tinsley Park June 6 or 7, the old PR saying "any press is good press" will continue to be in effect as Houstonians weigh in with as many opinions as there are colors in a rainbow.

But lest you think this is all a bunch of hype, have a look at the petition started by Girls Rock Camp Houston entitled "Cancel R. Kelly at FPSF 2015," which Tuesday afternoon was a little more than 100 signatures short of its goal of 800. We know we wrote about this very topic yesterday, and last week, but hey, it's a great story, and it's obviously not going away anytime soon. Today we wanted to open the floor and allow our music writers to offer their thoughts.

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A Statement From Mumford & Sons' Missing Banjo

Categories: Pop Life

Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media
Not a banjo in sight...
Mumford & Sons have officially left the West London folk scene sound and entered into mainstream music with their newest single, "Believe." Today, members of their fan club received an email encouraging them to download their newest hit or to stream it on YouTube or Spotify, but to many of their fans' dismay, Banjo has left the band.

Apparently Banjo was not invited to participate in creating the group's newest album, Wilder Mind, which will be released by Glassnote Records in May. Instead, the instrument's strong presence has been replaced with an electric guitar to give the band a more popular sound that rivals the likes of Coldplay and Keane. After being involved with the band during both of their Grammy nominations, 2009's Sigh No More and 2012's Babel, which won album of the year, the dismissal of Banjo seems very sudden.

Mumford and Sons have reportedly said that the band did not want to make a Babel II, and that Wilder Mind would be a "significant departure" from their previous sound.

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L.A.'s the Sloths Crawl Back From the Grave

Categories: Playbill, Pop Life

Photos by Art Tavana
Written by Art Tavana/LA Weekly

Jason Voorhees' gimmick in Friday the 13th is that he never stays dead. He's the campy horror equivalent of '60s garage rock, back from the grave whenever we need knuckle-dragging escapism to tickle our prepubescent fancy.

In 1964, British Invasion-aping garage rock was sexing up the Sunset Strip, as clubs feverishly booked bands with a rudimentary training in the blues, and a master's understanding of how to turn rock standards into libido-boosting shakedowns. Beverly Hills High School's The Sloths were one of those bands.

Between 1964 and '66, the Sloths opened for the Doors, the Animals and Pink Floyd, and managed to release a crude, nearly improvised single, "Makin' Love," which was too sexy for mid-'60s radio. But by the summer '66, they were done; buried alive, it would seem, under the murky swamps of the hippie riots on the Strip, frequent LSD trips, and law school for original guitarist Jeff Briskin.

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Dwight Yoakam Sideman Brian Whelan Heads Off on His Own

Photo by Evan Lane
Brian Whelan in the studio
After four years of road-dogging with Dwight Yoakam's band, multi-instrumental utility man Brian Whelan has quit and struck out on his own. He rolls into McGonigel's Mucky Duck Saturday for a song swap with old Los Angeles running buddy and local songwriter extraordinaire Mike Stinson.

Whelan has a new album that he'll unveil later this year that rocks hard and occasionally opens a can of whup-ass on the Americana genre on a hard-charging tune called (...drum roll...) "Americana." In the lyrics, Whelan tells someone "you look great but you sound like shit."

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Drake Will Not Be Running Through Arena Theatre With His Woes

Categories: Pop Life

Photo by Violeta Alvarez
It sounded too good to be true, ya know? That Drake show over at Arena Theatre on May 17? It's being "postponed."

This evening Arena Theatre sent out emails saying... well...

"Regrettably, we want to offer a full refund for your purchase of Drake tickets. The Arena Theatre was issued a contract and sent the appropriate deposit related to this contract, however, Drake has not confirmed his availability to perform under the terms of this agreement for the May 17th date."

Sad day.

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Sarah McLachlan Brings the Love to Jones Hall

Categories: Concerts, Pop Life

Photos by Jack Gorman
Sarah McLachlan
Jones Hall
March 1, 2015

Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan is probably just as well-known these days for her animal-rights activism and the founding of Lilith Fair as she is for her music, which doesn't seem right, somehow. After all, her lush arrangements and marked contrast in her vocal registers helped distinguish her from many of her '90s contemporaries, while her deeply personal lyrics wouldn't have been out of place decades earlier. In an era of nu-metal and Pearl Jam clones, she definitely stood out on the radio.

Note to Millennials: a "radio" is that thing with the buttons in your car you never use.

McLachlan has just released Shine On, her first album in four years, and her fans are as devoted as they were in the pre-Y2K days. This devotion inspired a more intimate approach for this tour, with fans invited onstage, selected questions pulled from a hat, and everyone basking in the transitory illusion that each of us are loved and welcome.

Too bleak?

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Dada Life Took Houston to the Land of Champagne, Bananas & Pillow Fights

Categories: Concerts, Pop Life

Photos by Jack Gorman
Dada Life always keep bananas handy.
After Action Report
Performers: Dada Life, Henry Fong, Bixel Boys
Location: The Dada Land Compound (Stereo Live)
Date: February 20, 2015

Country: Dada Land
Population: 2 (Permanent); Millions (Potentially)
Chief Imports: Bananas, Champagne
Chief Exports: Massive Beats

When I was tasked with the assignment of filing a report on a trip to Dada Land, I knew I was in for a long night. We've all heard the rumors of what goes on once you leave your home country behind and step in to their world of bananas, champagne and happy violence. Cultures that celebrate youth and hedonism are nothing new in the world, but Dada Land takes that celebration to its overly sugared extreme.

One cannot talk about Dada Land without talking about the dual dictators that run it: Dada Life. They travel the world, offering crowds a temporary glimpse in to the world they've created before pushing them back out in to the reality that makes up their day-to-day life. What are we to make of these performances? Is it over-the top-spectacle? Is it propaganda for the Dada Land? Is Dada Life trying to indoctrinate the world's youth to in hopes of making them the youth of Dada Land?

If these shows are for a nefarious purpose, we should all be concerned, because a trip, however temporary, to Dada Land is a fantastic time.

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Local Judge Brings Veteran Punks to Play for the Pooches

Categories: Pop Life, Whatever

Photo by Victoria Renard
Texas cowpunk pioneers the HIckoids play one for the pooches at Rudyard's Friday night
It only takes a few minutes of phone time with Judge Michael Schneider of the 315th District Juvenile Court to get the feeling that here is a public official who is genuinely trying to make a difference. This Friday the judge plays host to a benefit for Friends of B.A.R.C. (Bureau of Animal Rescue and Control) at Rudyard's.

Assisting His Honor musically will be three bands, some dating back to Schneider's days as a mosh-pitting punk at joints like the Axiom: Dead Cowboys, We Are the Asteroid, and San Antonio cowpunks the Hickoids.

"I've been a fan of the Hickoids since I first saw them in 1988, at the Axiom, I believe," says Schneider. "As a judge, I'm bound by ethics that prevent me from raising money for charities, but I can put on a show and let others donate."

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