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WestFest '07: A Badass Music Festival You Can Actually Afford [3/19/2007 05:24:00 PM]:
[UPDATE: Yep, listings have been updated slightly (thanks, a.different.ryan); now Spain Colored Orange, The Generic Tribe, Noon, and Generation Landslide are playing instead of Skyblue 72, Free Radicals, & Prodigal Sons...]

Okay, so I'll admit it freely: I'm bitter about music festivals these days. Us here at SCR don't rate press passes to most of these sorts of things (ahem; South by Somethingorother...), and being po' working folk with day jobs and kids and things, we can't generally slap down the $$$ to fly/drive cross-country just so we can see Favorite Band X at some four-day festival in Chicago or Tennessee. Hell, we can't even afford to hit that little festival up in Austin that took place recently. Ah, for the days when I was mortgage-less and free to blow my cash on whatever the fuck took my fancy...

Anyway, this is why I'm very, very thankful for the Westheimer Street Festival (coming up this next Saturday, March 24th, naturally). WestFest is up there with Emo's and Rudz as the places/happenings that first introduced me to music here in Houston; as a naive young college kid, I'd wander through the crowds of tattooed people out under the hot H-town sun, gawking at the punks and standing in awe of bands like Jessica Six and Rubbur, amazed that a city seemingly so boring and crappy could produce anything so vibrant and weird. WestFest is the primary reason that I maintain to this day that Houston, not Austin, is the Weirdo Capitol of Texas. We/they may all live under rocks most of the time, but we're/they're here, in large numbers.

Naturally, I was disappointed when all the political wrangling and bullshit took over the Festival, eventually killing it and dumping it in a shallow grave just south of Freedmen's Town. "Fuck," I thought, as I drove on down towards the Southwest side from Montrose, moving into married life and home ownership and all that, "it's The End. Damn, Houston's turning into the blah, lame-ass place I originally thought it was."

Now the kind people at Free Press Houston have changed all that, and from the looks of it, the WestFest I loved back in the old days is back: 50 or so bands, all for free, all packed into a block or three of Westheimer (Westheimer & Taft, basically). I'm going to risk bodily harm to make it out for at least part of the day this Sat. (it's, uh, also my wedding anniversary), because going by the schedule, there're a shitload of great and possibly-great local bands playing. Here's the lineup, sheepishly swiped from ADR at The Skyline Network:

Numbers (Outside):
NOON - Sabra and the Big Brothers
12:50 - Novice
1:40 - .belville
2:30 - Flowers to Hide
3:20 - Thee Armada
4:10 - Stadium
5:00 - Medicine Show
5:50 - Satin Hooks
6:40 - Penny Royal

Numbers (Inside):
NOON - Deep Above Surface
12:50 - Generation Landslide
1:40 - The Chapter
2:30 - Bowel
3:20 - Ninja Stars
4:10 - Mic Skills
5:00 - The Riff Tiffs
5:50 - Concrete Rose Cabaret

Mango's (Outside):
NOON - Soledad Sons
1:00 - The Rudyments
2:00 - Suspenderman
2:20 - Doo Doo Butter
3:20 - Muzak John
3:50 - Cartwheels in Central Park
4:20 - Brains for Dinner
5:20 - Organ Failure
6:00 - Police State America
6:20 - The Riff Tiffs
7:20 - The Krinkles

Mango's (Inside):
Noon - The Jane Frequency
12:50 - The Ride Home
1:40 - Honeysuckle
2:30 - The Western Civilization
3:20 - Nine Volt
4:10 - Guns of Detroit
5:00 - Rusted Shut
5:50 - Buxton
6:40 - The Umbrella Man
7:50 - Poison Apple Martini

Noon - Jesse's Delight
12:50 - Noon
1:40 - Arthur Yoria
2:30 - The Fucking Transmissions
3:20 - Guy Schwartz
4:10 - Nosaprise
5:00 - Million Year Dance
5:50 - Spain Colored Orange
6:40 - The Scattered Pages
7:50 - The Generic Tribe

Knowing where to be is going to be rough, really; folks I'd recommend would be .belville, Satin Hooks, The Western Civilization, Skyblue 72, Rusted Shut, Arthur Yoria, Million Year Dance, and Spain Colored Orange , and I'm really-truly-truly hoping to catch The Scattered Pages, The Fucking Transmissions, Buxton, Guns of Detroit (who I somehow managed to never see when they lived here), The Ride Home, Soledad Sons, The Riff Tiffs, Mic Skills, Penny Royal, Stadium, Thee Armada, Flowers to Hide, Novice, and Sabra and the Big Brothers. Hoo-ah. Looks like I'll be hanging out outside Numbers most of the day.

The best part of a festival like this, though, is that you can just wander, roaming through the crowd & taking it all in, catching a little bit of Band A here and enough of Band B there to make you curious. I can't speak for every past WestFest-goer out there, but over the years I found out about a ton of cool bands I'd never heard/heard of before just by meandering in a big circle from one stage to the next. Wherever you end up, you're not likely to go too far wrong.

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