YACHT Sets Sail In the Sea of Fitz By Daniel G.

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The stage was set. Mics were all taped up and in their stands, and all instruments were ready to go. YACHT’s signature smiling yellow triangles (smiangles) adorned either end of the bandstand. Three members emerged unassumingly in all black shirts and thanked the Houston crowd for our attendance. They started into the spacey “Paradise Engineering” while the center mic stand remained unaccompanied. The crowd bobbed along as the music began to crescendo. All of a sudden onto center stage ran Claire L. Evans, the bands sinewy lead, contrasting the rest of the band in a stark white getup a la Milla Jovovich from The Fifth Element. She immediately belted out verse and writhed to the jam the band was laying down. And as exciting as the YACHT show began, the fun at Fitzgerald’s downstairs on Saturday never stopped.

YACHT’s dance punk sound made it impossible to stand still. Add to it Evans’ and Jona Bechtolt’s stage presence and it was a multi-sensory extravaganza with Daltreyesque mic acrobatics and outlandish interpretive dance to match their musical chops. Watching all members trade instruments and lead vocals throughout made the cohesive set even more impressive and exciting. Marfa, Texas, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon all were cited as hometowns, and YACHT demonstrates years of diverse musical experience to go along with the varying towns they repped. You hear LCD Soundsystem in the thumping “Tripped and Fell In Love” and then Depeche Mode coupled with a more industrial sound in “I’m In Love With a Ripper”. Over the instrumentation Evans’ voice has similarities to Chrissie Hynde while her body channels Bowie. One wouldn’t expect a band like this to acknowledge the crowd at all, but they couldn’t have been more appreciative, even fielding random questions from the audience and stating that their reason for being there was “to form a connection with one another”. It would be remiss of me not to mention the heat at Fitzgerald’s. It had to be hovering around 90 in the room and even more unbearable onstage. Evans exclaimed “It COULDN’T be hotter” after rocking the crowd-pleasing “Psychic City” from See Mystery Lights. YACHT looked twice as drained as the danced out audience by the end. Every show at Fitz is uncomfortably hot, and I can’t imagine the temp onstage encourages bands to play  anything more than a minimally acceptable set length. The venue is among my favorites in the Bayou City, but when the crowd was drenched while many of the overhead fans weren’t even working, improvements to temp control are necessary.

Thankfully, despite the Fitz furnace and being only a week away from wrapping up this leg of their Shangri-La tour, YACHT didn’t phone in the show. They were as energetic at the end of the set as at the beginning, finishing with “Disembodied” and the apropos “Dystopia (The Earth Is On Fire)”. The encore brought more gratitude from the band before a delivering a version of “Love In the Dark” that was far more energetic than the album track. It had been over a year since YACHT brought their dancy show to Houston. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take that long to see the smiangles again.

Crystal Method by Chris L.

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Through out the past few years we have seen a rise in the rave culture across the world with DJs and Producers completely selling out stadiums full of thousands of avid lovers of EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Skrillex, Deadmau5, and AviciI have all become house hold names but they have just emerged in the past few years. Looking back before the techno scene emerged we see a duo who surfaced during the mid 90’s who changed the scene for ever. These two men began a culture and revolution that at the time was the scene in the UK and made it an ever popular genre across clubs in the US.

The Crystal Method stopped by Fitzgerald on the 4rm of June. The group not only put on an extravagant experience with their music but demonstrated why they are the founders is electronic music. Their mixes were flawless pulling from different genres and samples to create the perfect fluid sound that moved the audiences around the wooden dance floor.

Grrrl parts opened for the duo and did a nice job combining current dance tracks as well as recalling others to mix a soils set, but was at time faulty when it came to transitions which was only highlighted even more when The Crystal Method took the turntable.

Being big in the 90s meant that the crowd was a bit of an older crowd as well as having been added a bit last minute have a smaller crowd which made the show even that much more intimate. The music was beyond that of what current DJs play and only having two turntables and a few buttons to add effects and loops  showed the true power and skill the group has.

Just because they are from an earlier era does not mean they were inflexible with their tracks. the group played some top 40 mixes as well as some dubstep. They are the perfect example of a combination of old and new school mixing as production which can captivate both audiences.

As the night progressed the two members of The Crystal Method took turns on the tables each brining a unique sound and style to the show. There was much fan interaction which made the show even that much better. The light show was a bare minimum of lights whom only flashed at certain times which gave more importance to the actual beats in comparison to an actual show.

The flawless transitions and creative genius these two have is no comparison to anything currently out in the mainstream rave scene. They stopped by last year and once again this past summer, hopefully they keep up with this tradition and continue to visit Houston, the city who inspired and was help create a track for ths duo.

Better late than never

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Must See Show: The Head And The Heart

Don’t have plans tonight? Down to see live shows? I’ve got the perfect solution
for you: The Head And The Heart at Warehouse Live. This fairly young (formed in
2009), Seattle born, folk/pop outfit is a must-see live act. With undeniably on point
harmonies, their vocals are out of this world.

You may know them for their radio hit, “Lost in My Mind,” an unbelievably catchy
tune from their first, self-titled album that most singer/songwriters only dream
of creating. If you know me well, then you know I’m incapable of falling out of
love with the strikingly beautiful song, “Rivers and Roads” from the same album. I
especially love this one because of the lead role Rose, the only female in the group,
has throughout it.

View a video of my “Rivers and Roads” here: 

Warehouse Live will be the perfect venue for this group, too, as a more intimate,
indoor space lends itself perfectly to their harmony heavy vibe. Even if you aren’t
a fan of the folk genre, this one isn’t to be missed. I was shocked at just how much a
folk group could jam, and they really did, and will tonight.

If you haven’t already, grab your tickets; at only $18 a pop it’s totally worth it. If you
end up making it out, come say hi, if you don’t (shame on you), you can follow me at
the show in real time on twitter: @theotherselber!

The Lumineers: New Music With An Old Sound By Daniel G

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Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites of the Lumineers struggled in Brooklyn for a few years, playing to the same few people every night. But they took a risk that paid off, moving out to Denver to showcase their sound replete with twang and Americana. They found multi-instrumentalist Neyla Pekarek out there and soon enough began to open for bands like the Yonder Mountain String Band.  Folks out west embraced their sound and their popularity took off.  Houston got its first glimpse of their foot-stomping folk showcase on Wednesday night at the sold out upstairs of Fitzgerald’s. In the past two years we’ve seen bands like The Civil Wars, Mumford & Sons, and this year’s FPSF Headliners the Avett Brothers bring acoustic roots stylings to the forefront of the Grammy stage and the Billboard charts. It is hard to avoid grouping the Lumineers in with these bands that would seem more at home atop the bill at the Kerrville Folk Festival than in the mp3 collections of twentysomethings.  But timeless music like this is getting a new wave of fans, as it does.

The five piece ensemble brought grace and energy to Fitz’s main stage, with a short but sweet set featuring many of their eponymous album’s songs along with a few covers.  A large portion of the crowd obviously had the Lumineers’ album since it went on sale in late April, and they sang along with every line on tracks like “Ho Hey” and “The Big Parade”.  Songs like “Charlie Boy” could have been written 80 years ago, and the slower “Dead Sea” was a great way to bring intimacy and pain to the forefront after the more aggressive numbers.  It was interesting to see the audience sing songs that were released less than two months ago but appear uninspired when Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” rang out.

The Lumineers were at their best when harmonizing, with a unified sound as each musician came together in instrument and voice.  Placing the kick-drum up front gave Jeremiah a chance to leave his simplified trap set and join his bandmates within inches of the adoring fans.  Just when we felt the show was reaching its zenith, the band thanked the wall-to-wall crowd and departed the stage after a scant 45 minutes.  They encored with the happy “Flapper Girl” and then a mic-less “Darlene” that hushed the crowd and had us stomping along with the chorus as percussion.  For their last song the audience was given a choice of “The Talking Heads” or “The Band” and the Heads won out, so we all smiled along to “This Must Be the Place”.   Indeed it was. 

Har Mar Superstar & Father John Misty: The Stars Align by Jessie H.

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It is safe to say that I’ve been a fan of Har Mar Superstar for years now. I have a lot of his earlier albums, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see him perform. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never knew when he was coming to town. So when his name popped up on my computer I jumped at the chance to see the chubby songster. I had heard his live shows were impressive, but that was years ago. I wondered if the cherub of sex still oozed the way he used to. All I knew was that I was in for a treat. A very weird treat. And what a tasty treat it was. The astounding trio of John Belushi, Jack Black and Ron Jeremy were in attendance last night in the form of one man. Har Mar Superstar a.k.a. Sean Tillmann was indeed that man. Words can’t describe how bizarrely fantastic this guy is, but I’m going to try. Firstly, I must point out that no matter what HMS was wearing the bottom of his gut was always displayed proudly. It was obvious this was the least of concerns. If HMS wasn’t prancing around peeling clothes from his body, he was doing audience provided jäger shots. He promised that as long the shots kept coming the show would continue to get weird. He kept his promise. Tillmann proceeded to dive into the audience, get on his knees and sing into a wide variety of crotches. The crowd ate it up. For one hour the sweaty performer had the entire audience in the palm of his hand. That’s not all he had in his hand though. When things would begin to slow, HMS would reach in his skivvies and release his “love” into the crowd of stunned voyeurs. Har Mar finished the set in his underwear, and oddly enough, the crowd didn’t seem to mind as the fat man we had all came to love sweat on us one last time. Father John Misty a.k.a. Joshua Tillman was up next. I had given the album a few listens, and I wasn’t the biggest fan. I’d get pretty bored pretty quick and usually end up switching midway. I knew some people who’d like it, but aside from a few stand out tracks it just wasn’t for me. Knowing that Josh Tillman was the drummer for Fleet Foxes I figured I’d give the live show a chance. I grabbed a cold one and unknowingly headed into the land of excellence. Josh Tillman had already been on stage tonight drumming for Har Mar Superstar, and while Father John Misty didn’t appear as odd as Har Mar, he is just as unpredictable. Father John Misty came out to Kanye West. What a badass. You’re a folk band, and you’re strutting out to Kanye. Kudos good sirs, you have balls. With Har Mar Superstar I had some sort of idea of what I was getting into, but after such a bold introduction I didn’t know what to expect from Father John Misty. Like, Har Mar, Tillman quickly had the crowd entranced. No matter the tempo the audience was stuck gazing as the gangly fellow would gyrate to the beat of his own drum. It was like one of those American Beauty plastic bag type moments where although it wasn’t something I’d normally be obsessed with I couldn’t help but to continue to stare. It was quickly apparent that Tillman had a sharp tongue. Between songs he’d share stories from the road and respond to the crowd quickly and on point. It almost seemed scripted at times. Someone yelled “muscles” when all of Father John Misty was rolling up their sleeves. It quickly became an ongoing joke. Tillman and company would flex between songs and even went as far as saying they had exercise tapes available at the merch table. The crowd remained impressed through the set, but as soon as the house music turned on nearly everyone scattered like roaches. Haven’t you guys heard of an encore? I suppose that’s my only gripe. There were a few of key songs left out that I’d like to have seen performed. I’m almost sure they were saving them for the encore, but because of the disinterest of the crowd Father John Misty never reclaimed the stage.

Devin The Dude at House Of Blues by Cory M.

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You can reliably expect to see two things at a hip hop show; lateness

and at least a half dozen dudes before the headliner. Devin’s show at
House of Blues did not take exception to that rule. After the requisite
half dozen (quite good) rappers had passed across the stage, Devin
entered with only minutes to spare before midnight.

The first opener was Luke Duke, who said he’d won a contest to open for
Devin. From Texas City originally (and with one of the most appropriate
handles I’ve ever seen for a white, southern rapper), it’s easy to
assume he was present as some kind of reverse affirmative action in hip
hop, designed to lure in all the money from the Vanilla Ice looking
bros who were out in full force at Saturday’s concert. Luke, however,
flowed over some impressively deep bass and percussion. Clever rhymes
and a quick, clean pace made it apparent he won whatever contest that
brought him to the stage fair and square. He also must’ve brought a
significant portion of his fan base, as there was no shortage of Luke
Duke apparel in the crowd, underscored by the “Luke Duke” chant he
summoned as he walked off stage.

B.Rolla and DJ Dif’Rent with Java Starr took the reins after Luke Duke,
keeping things firmly focused on recreational herb smoking. They knew
their audience well if the plumes of exhaled pot smoke I saw rising
from a dozen different places in the crowd were any indication. The
feel of their set was very casual, reassured that the fans were present
and they didn’t have anything to prove.

“Hands up if you smoke weed!” yielded quite a few hands when B.Rolla
shouted it to get everyone pumped for Devin’s arrival.
The smooth confidence displayed, in contrast to the brasher strain of
braggadocio that informs most hip hop artist’s style, was a consistent
theme throughout the concert and pinnacled by Devin’s entrance.

Yes; don’t let the blurry iPhone photo deceive you, that is Devin
walking on stage and immediately lighting a joint. It was an impressive
feat of multitasking to hold a mic, light up, and still spit his
lyrics without a single stumble. Devin’s smooth entrance was all of a
piece with the very eclectic and diverse background that informs his
unassuming, self-assured style. “Gotta Be Me”, with the characteristic
stripped down and bass-heavy beats of the southern style he helped
pioneer, layered with his smooth flow and occasionally unexpected
lyrical turn, only intensified the crowd’s cool enthrallment and the
heavy presence of chronic smoke in the venue. Devin would take the
lead on that vibe and drive it home through his whole set, wrapping
up “Anythang”, nearly blowing out the house sound with a ridiculously
fat low end all while keeping things relaxed and fun. The tour may be
named “Seriously Tripping[...]“, but the show itself was seriously
chill.

Favorite Quotes:

“you can follow me on twitter at…”
– every dude onstage with a mic

“YouTube his motherfuckin’ ass!!”

Animals as Leaders (AAL) @ Warehouse Live 5/11/12 by Joseph A.

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After 14 years, Thrice announced their farewell tour and had their last show for probably awhile on Friday night at Warehouse Live. This wasn’t the reason I stopped by Friday, as I honestly have no interest in them. The real reason I showed up was to see Tosin Abasi and his band Animal as Leaders (AAL). I picked up on Tosin from metalsucks.com last year who ranked him as #2 of their 25 top modern metal guitarists from the past 5 years. I watched the video for CAFO and was surprised how great of a guitar player he really is. I don’t know how to properly describe but a quick search says they play “instrumental progressive metal” with jazz fusion. This is something I really don’t see opening for Thrice. I showed up to the show on that gloomy night about 5 minutes before AAL hit the stage. Warehouse was pretty packed by this time already. The crowd wasn’t’ the normal band shirt/jeans type of crowd with the normal few weirdos mixed in.  There were plenty of polos, button ups, and flat caps. Most of the girls I saw were semi dressed up as well. Kind of a hipster-ish crowd with a some post-hardcore/punk fans. AAL’s stage set up was pretty simple with a screen on each side and the drum set up in the middle. Both guitarists used 8 string guitars, something you don’t see all the time. When the show started it wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear, but I really didn’t know their sound too well anyway. A lot of the guitars were off beat and some just didn’t sound like they flowed together, but it didn’t make it bad. There really wasn’t a big crowd reaction for them, except when Tosin would play a solo, which will get a crowd reaction at mostly any show. The problem was he constantly played solos, so the crowd reactions kind of died down. I’m not exactly how much the crowd enjoyed AAL but I’m sure most people enjoyed the visuals on the screens. They went together perfectly with their music. AAL played roughly 40 minutes, and closed out their set with CAFO which got a decent reaction from the crowd and even a small pit. I really don’t get why there was a pit for them. They do have some good heavy riffs mixed in but each to their own.  Along with hearing CAFO the other highlight of the night was getting complimented on my shirt, a Judas Priest 2004 tour shirt, as being the best one at the show. I didn’t waste much time leaving as soon as they were done, but got stuck with the very hard rain that night. Luckily for me it ended early enough for me to get out before Thrice came on. I’m not hating on them, but Tosin Abasi is just under appreciated and I’m sure most people didn’t pay too much attention to em that night.

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