Three words (well, technically two words, but y'know) come to mind when I look at the ginormous pile of cool stuff that's going on this weekend: why, God, why? See, 'cause while all you fortunate town-bound people will see your respective cups overfloweth, I will be shepherding three screaming children (not all my own) around Ye Olde Alamo and the Magical Land of Shamu, both of which are in San Antonio, not here. Fuck.
Don't get me wrong -- I love the kids, believe me, but I've honestly been looking forward to this weekend and, stupid me, neglected to factor in the pre-existing family-type plans (the type that involve relatives and nonrefundable airline tickets) when getting psyched about said cool stuff. sigh. I'd damn well better not be out of town when the Press Awards Showcase hits, too, or that's my whole spring/summer season blown...
Anyway, let's hit the high points, shall we?:
WESTHEIMER BLOCK PARTY: Yes, yes, yes. From humble beginnings, the Westheimer Block Party, a mutated, high-voltage descendant of the venerable, much-beloved/much-bickered-over Westheimer Street Festival that's been brought to life by the very cool Free Press Houston crew, has grown to be something pretty damn special. I'll admit that I was a little bemused on my first visit, but the thing's grown by leaps & bounds in the relatively short time since then. And hey, it's free to all, so that's hard to beat...
This time out -- Saturday, April 12th, to be specific -- the show looks absolutely fucking stellar. I'm not going to run down the whole schedule here -- you can go here for that (although be warned that, fate being what it is, some things are bound to shift between posting on the Internets and the Real World).
For this edition of the WBP, there're even honest-to-God headliners ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead & HEALTH, who're playing Numbers in the evening-time with badass locals Young Mammals (aka The Dimes, but I have to say, I like the new name much better; makes me think of The Discovery Channel, oddly...), Spain Colored Orange, & By the End of Tonight, as well as DJs Ceeplus Badknives & Damon. I'm not a huge Trail of Dead fan, truthfully, but I dig the hell out of a song or three ("How Near, How Far" is excellent, even several years past), and I'm told HEALTH kick ass -- as for the other folks, I can personally attest that yes, they all do indeed kick ass themselves.
Now, for the earlybirds, you've got your choice of stages, starting at noon or so tomorrow -- there'll be bands playing at the Avant Garden (ex-Helios/The Mausoleum; downstairs & upstairs), Numbers (inside & outside), & Mango's (ex-The Oven, next door to the Avant Garden; inside & outside). There will be bands assaulting your ears from left, right, and above, which can make this sort of thing disconcerting, so here're my personal faves to check out:
AVANT GARDEN (OUTSIDE):
2:15-2:45 -- The Watermarks
3:00-3:30 -- Buxton
3:45-4:15 -- Piano Vines (this one really hurts; every time these folks play, I'm out of damn town...)
6:00-6:30 -- Papermoons
7:30-8:00 -- Elaine Greer (not sure if this is with the rest of The Holly Hall or not)
8:15-8:45 -- Sabra Laval
AVANT GARDEN (UPSTAIRS):
1:30-2:00 -- Antarctica Starts Here
3:45-4:15 -- Cop Warmth
9:00-9:30 -- The Gold Sounds
1:30-2:00 -- American Sharks
2:15-2:45 -- Perseph One
4:30-5:00 -- Thee Armada (hate all you want; they're a damn good post-emo band...)
7:30-8:00 -- H.I.S.D.
3:45-4:15 -- Southern Backtones
4:30-5:00 -- The Takes
7:20-7:50 -- Satin Hooks
3:45-4:15 -- Rise Over Ruin
4:30-5:00 -- The Wild Moccasins
Obviously, there're more excellent people playing all over the damn place, but dangit, I had to pare the list down some so as to not overburden you, Dear Reader, unduly. I probably have anyway, seeing as some of the above folks are playing at the same time -- now'd be a perfect time to start working again on the old cloning project you've had sitting in your garage for the past six years, right? Whatever you do, just go, wander around, listen to bands; the beauty of this type of show is that you're absolutely guaranteed to hear/see something you like, even if you don't like all of it.
Good on ya, Free Press-ers. I really, truly, with my heart of hearts wish I was gonna be out on Westheimer tomorrow. But eh, the family thing's gotta come first, and the kids want some damn killer whales, so...
KTRU OUTDOOR SHOW: And then, even though you won't be recovered from all that sun & car exhaust & rock, well, you need to head on over to Rice University campus on Sunday, April 13th for the 17th Annual KTRU Outdoor Show. Being a former DJ, I've got a special place in my heart for KTRU, and the Outdoor Show's a significant part of why -- when I was but a wee student, the Outdoor Show introduced me to a whole slew of bands/musicians I'd never gotten to see or hear before, and it truly opened my eyes to musical life beyond the hedges, since in my day, most students rarely left campus unless they lived off-campus (I think it's changed, from the large no. of cars I see parked when I go by there now). The Outdoor Show was like bringing the music to the students, since the students wouldn't go to it.
My first-ever Outdoor Show, I happened to catch Alejandro Escovedo for the first time, and it dropped my jaw to the ground -- even now when I hear "By Eleven," I get this sad, wistful smile on my face and feel this strange tight feeling in my chest. It's crazy. And then there's the infamous NoMeansNo show, which was one of my first encounters with punk at its absolute wildest...
At any rate, this is a good, good deal. Like the WBP, the Outdoor Show's also free for all & sundry, and runs from noon-9PM, roughly. I think (although don't quote me) that there's even free food & St. Arnold's beer. And there're some damn good folks playing this time -- I dearly love headliners Parts & Labor, for one, 'cause they do that paranoiac/majestic-noise squall like nobody else, Nosaprise is downright decent local hip-hop, Balaclavas rock my socks off (need to listen to their 2 EPs again, actually), and Dead PA is actually the new(-ish) electronic project of Population Zero, an old friend from my band days, so I'm bummed I won't get to see him live & in-person for the first time in a loooong while.
So go, go, go. Fight the hangover & sit out on the grass with the students & parents & all that. Trust me, it's a good time.
HOUSTON INDIE BOOK FESTIVAL: Gotta run, but I absolutely can't forget to mention this, it's just too damn cool. The Gulf Coast journal & Domy Books are hosting the neato-sounding Houston Indie Book Festival this Saturday, April 12th, right down the road from the Block Party @ Domy -- it's free, it runs from 10AM-5PM, and it's going to be a blowout of indie/underground publishing madness. Here's the info from the organizers:
Readings by David McLean, Mat Johnson, and others.
From the organizers, publishers, and magazines. Browse hundreds of titles from the underground out in the sunshine. Grab a cup of coffee at Brasil. Rub shoulders with Marjane Satrapi.
Start the spring with books and magazine right with all the magazines and books you can carry off from our FIRST ANNUAL HOUSTON INDIE BOOK FESTIVAL and Fifth Annual CLMP Literary Magazine & Small Press Fair in Houston, where hundreds of regional and national independent literary publishers will converge to sell their discounted journals and books.
The fair is co-sponsored by Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, Inprint, and The Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.
Inprint inspires readers and writers in Houston. Inprint programs and events provide something for everyone and play a vital role in Houston's rich and diverse cultural life.
CLMP is the nationís only nonprofit support and advocacy organization serving the independent literary publishing community.
This program made possible in part through support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
And yes, re-read that second sentence again: "[r]ub shoulders with Marjane Satrapi." Wow. Satrapi's the writer behind Persepolis, an awesome two-part bio-comic about growing up in post-Islamic Revolution Iran, and it's utterly brilliant. You might know what I'm talking about, by the by, because her books were recently turned into what I've heard is an excellent animated film. I'm totally flabbergasted that she's appearing in our little podunk city -- she's actually going to be doing a reading of some sort at Hobby Center, but she'll be dropping by Domy, as well.
Again: why, God? What did I do to deserve this? Couldn't you have scheduled the family trip for the weekend when REO Speedwagon & Up with People were in town, instead? sigh.
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