Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spot The Local Music Curmudgeon - Christmas Week Edition

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

-A weekly blog where I highlight at least one show I definitely expect to attend (see *) and throw in a few more that I'd like to and might see given the money and the time.-

RECAP

Wols Photo Courtesy John Van
Now I know what you are thinking. The big show last week was the big Texas Gone Garage festival, that's where the shit was going down. Well, I hate to break it to you but the world was brought to a halt down the ways at the Proletariat. Not by a bunch of guys soaked in sweat and beer playing rock and roll full of force and conviction but by four people doing something very simple - conversing. By this I mean a musical conversation where everyone is bouncing ideas, listening to everyone else, and adding to what is happening.

Wols is Amye McCarther who writes very skeletal songs with enough space where the players with whom she collaborates have ample room to move and express themselves and make her music their own. And what a backing band she assembled on Saturday: Mlee Suprean (Hearts of Animals), Will Adams (Black Snakes & Kangaroo), and Abe Houch (Hungry Villagers). The performance may have carried on for nearly an hour but it never felt that way simply because what was happening on stage was so engrossing. While Amye held the center with her vocals and guitar, the rest of the band was throwing ideas back and fourth. Abe would accompany with gorgeous acoustic guitarwork that was subtle and atmospheric, Will chose a more aggressive approach with his guitar that was the perfect compliment, and Mlee played everything from guitar to a cap gun.

The interplay for me recalled that same interactive thrill of Jason Bill-era Charalambides, where by all accounts the band should completely careen off the cliff but the band is connecting and interacting so well that they keep it together and ride it through triumphantly. It's thrilling stuff to watch when bands take chances like this. I'm not talking some guy hanging off a rafter in a tired rock trope of feigned risk and energy but the real thing where you take a chance that could leave you looking the fool on stage yet somehow you pull it off. It's pulled off only with great songwriting, excellent musicianship, and a band that can communicate intimately without any grandstanding and as a collective whole. Kudos to Amye and her band for pulling off what was easily the best show I've seen all year.

That's saying a
hell of a lot given Mlee Marie's earlier acoustic performance where all of the bells and whistles that is Hearts of Animals are stripped away leaving her voice, her guitar, and her songs. It's the kind of performance that should have shut-up any naysayers who question her skills as a musician and performer. I said it earlier this week an I'll say it again these two women are making the most important music coming out of Houston hands-down.

The Mike Gunn
As for Texas Gone Garage, it was a huge success. I caught Sunday night which was excellent. Sew What was fine when she played by herself but her backing band, sadly, did her no favors. The Freed sounded much more cohesive than they did when I saw them at the Mink a while back. Hearts of Animals played another inspiring set which was all the more stunning given how many shows she's pulled off in a mere 3 days. The Mike Gunn reunion lived up to the hype with the band firing on all cylinders like I'd never seen them do even in their heyday and the crowd ate it up as much as the Sprawl crowd did back in October. The Mirrors reunion was as great with the crowd dancing, sweating, and drinking their way to the end of the night. Excellent!




THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT

*Saturday December 22 -
We Are the Hollow Men Art Show,
featuring Fatal Flying Guilloteens,
The Jonbenet, The Dimes,
Grant Olney and The Brokedown Gospel,
B, The Riff Tiffs and DJs Reverberation and Cee Plus Bad Knives
@ 1620 Keene Street Warehouse
(just N of downtown off Main; 8PM, $5/$7)

Well this is the one everyone is buzzing about and why not? The line up is nutters with great acts. Fatal Flying Guilloteens and the Jonbenet will bring the sweat and beer spit from the mouth. The Dimes will lay down the pop like Moses coming down from the mountain, Gran Olney will be dragging down 3/4th of Panic in Detroit with him, B will lay down the prog, and they even brought out those Riff Tiff kids. The stink of hipsters will heavy in the air, consider yourself warned.

(Note: I'm not sure which is the current line-up - the poster - which has been out for a while - or the listing on Space City Rock. You guys figure it out. Either way it's gonna be cool. )


Thursday December 20
Colour Revolt/ Buxton/ The Church of Philadelphia
@ Walter's on Washington
Mia Kat artist Buxton plays some lovely poppy stuff that you can't help but like. Whether it be the more sparse simple work of Hallelujah from the split they did with Oh Pioneers a while back or the fuller production of one of the newer songs like Flame the melodies always come through and swirl around your head like a swarm of very happy bees.

Thursday December 20
Austin Gibbs/ Bigfoot and the Bear/ Elaine Greer/ The Tontons
@ Super Happy Fun Land
Elaine Greer has been quietly making some lovely understated pop that highlight gorgeous melodies and simple yet effective arrangements that emphasize her lovely vocal delivery. Meanwhile, The Tontons have something seriously going on with vocalist Asli Omar where you think "Shit they are doing this whole bluesy 60's rock thing and getting away with it"! It's harder to pull off than she makes it looks!


Friday December 21
Free Press' Holiday Bash
Sideshow Tramps
@ Helios (Avant Garden)
Yeah it's our party and we'll drink if we want to. Sideshow Tramps bring their porch settin' beer howdown shit to Helios for all the good little boys and girls. Yes, there is a Santa Claus!


Saturday December 22
Secret Saturday Show
@ The Shady Tavern
(1206 W. 20th St.; 12-5PM, free!)
You know the score. Mystery bands, DJs, and it's free.


*Sunday December 23
Rick Smith Memorial Show
featuring Orouboros and Novox
@ Rudyard's
God Bless the Rick Smith and all that sail with her....er him. Not a week goes by where I don't hear his name uttered by someone still in shock over his untimely passing. It's crazy. Well, here is yet another chance to drink to his good name. It's been a while since I've seen Orouborus but if I recall correctly it was Bill Lamber behind the kit and Shawn and Carol Kelly among others improvising around his unhindered batterie - very cool. Novox also put on some lovely and expansive instrumental rock shows that are worth a Sunday night trip to the bar.



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