Yr. Weekend: Frank Smith + Second Lovers + Castle Lights + HHOC Getting Sued Party + Robin Zander + Deep Ella + The Soapbox Revolution + Vanilla Sugar + More
It’s not that nothing was going on last weekend, because there were plenty of great shows. In fact, my favorite band of the last decade, OURS, was in town at Fitzgerald’s last Sunday night. If you weren’t there, you missed out on what I thought could be the show of the year.
No, the problem was that my computer seems to have gotten fried by a power outage or surge. I think I’m going to have to have the power supply replaced. Any Mac geniuses want to help? So I didn’t get to the weekend rundown last week. This week, I’m back at work, so I’m using my lunch break to give you a rundown on what’s happening this weekend and where you should find yourselves if you want to enjoy some excellent music. Jeremy is back in town, but is suffering from some jet lag and home repair issues, so I’m happy to point you all in the right direction.
Friday, August 16th: There are two major standout shows for me on Friday night.
Frank Smith/Second Lovers/Rodeo Queen/Modern Baseball @ Mango’s
Austin’s Frank Smith has made their way to Houston about a half-dozen times over the last two years. They have a great “Wilco meets Pink Floyd with a splash of the piano side of Thom Yorke” thing about them. I have personally played shows with them and always have a great time. Second Lovers are mainstays on the Houston scene, with a country-rock flair in the vein of Whiskeytown and Of Monsters and Men. Rodeo Queen (another Houston act) are new to me. I’ve never seen them, but from a quick listen on Bandcamp, they fit in really well with this bill. I’ve also never heard of Modern Baseball, but they sound like “Dead Milkmen meets Violent Femmes,” out of Pittsburgh, PA.
I haven’t been to Mango’s in a while, so I wonder if they’ve ever fixed their air-conditioner issues. In my experience, that place is a furnace during the summer. Also, be very careful parking in that area, as there are lots of tow-away areas in the residential part of the neighborhood. I thought these two issues would sink Mango’s (and Avant Garden, for that matter) as a venue, but it goes to show that bands want to play and fans want to see bands.
The other show I would likely find myself, were it not my anniversary Friday, would be…
Southbound Drive/Castle Lights @ Walter’s ($8)
Castle Lights are Houston’s “Most Britpop Band.” They have the hooks and the tone of Britpop, with nods to Coldplay, Oasis, early Radiohead, and The Smiths. I haven’t seen them in a while, and I miss them. They’re one of the bands of Houston that most look like a band, too. Castle Lights seems to have found a female audience, which is rare in Houston. And where there are females, the guys will follow. So yeah, Walter’s should be a party.
While you’re at Walter’s, make sure to ask about picking up tickets for their big Keep Calm/Fight Cancer benefit concert for Walter’s owner (and someone I’m proud to call friend) Pam Robinson, on the weekend of September 6th, 7th, and 8th. More info to come on that show soon. As for Austin’s Southbound Drive, they make inoffensive pop music. It’s pretty formulaic, but a lot of people like that.
O’Brother/Native/Daylight/Another Run/Blackout Heist @ Warehouse Live
Saturday, August 17th: Here’s where I will try to be on Saturday. Friday is my anniversary, so I will likely not be going out to shows. And Saturday it looks like my wife is going to want to go to see Robin Zander, way up at Concert Pub North. But before we go out there, we’re going to stop by at…
The Houston House of Creeps “We’re Getting Sued Party” at Houston House of Creeps and The Doctor’s Office (Corner of Nance and William Streets)
The Houston House of Creeps was evicted from their old stomping grounds over by the University of Houston, and that’s a good thing, because now they are downtown around the corner from Last Concert Café, which is a much more music-friendly place for a venue to be.
But after getting the eviction, the landlord decided to go all out and sue them for six months’ extra rent (it was in the fine print of the contract that they could do that), along with some other alleged damages. “Why should I care?”, you may ask. Well, like I was saying about Mango’s, Houston needs more venues. Our bands need more venues to play. Our fans need more venues to go to get that “scene feeling.” For a city with millions of people, we have a small-town feel when it comes to bands and music venues.
So yeah, I want to help Houston House of Creeps. And it looks like nearly 300 people on Facebook agree and say they’re showing up to help pitch in to the legal fund. This is the kind of scene I’ve wanted for years to start forming. Bands include Deep Cuts, Technicolor Hearts, We Were Wolves, Mother Ghost, Valens, Race to the Moon, Chase Hamblin (solo), Giant Battle Monster, SLOTHS, The Wiggins, and Tan Dragon Clan. And remember, the bands are playing for free, so go ahead and buy some of their merchandise while you’re there!
Robin Zander @ The Concert Pub North (2470 FM 1960)
So yes, it’s our anniversary weekend, and I think my wife wants to go to this. It’s pretty exciting to think we could see the singer of the iconic band Cheap Trick at a small venue like Concert Pub North. I’ve even played on this stage before. The flyer I saw said “playing all the hits.” That means to me we’ll get to hear “Dream Police,” “If You Want My Love,” “Surrender,” and of course, “I Want You to Want Me,” in an intimate setting. Of course, there’s no Rick, Tom, or Bun E., but still… Add to all this, there’s actually a band called WHY ISN’T CHEAP TRICK IN THE HALL OF FAME? But that’s a debate for another time.
Finally, here’s one more show to find your way to Saturday:
Deep Ella/Suite 709/Potbelly/Brothers Grymn/Soapbox Revolution/Recovery Room/Vanilla Sugar/The Trimbles/Tim Qualls/ A Thousand Colors/ Days Drive / Joseph King @ Fitzgerald’s
Deep Ella lives by the philosophy of playing a few big shows a year, and it works for them, especially when they surround themselves with about a dozen other bands upstairs and down at Fitzgerald’s. Standouts along with Deep Ella include The Soapbox Revolution, who manage to combine influences like Foo Fighters and Placebo into a rock sound just heavy enough to be “Buzz”-worthy, Recovery Room, who do get played on 94.5 The Buzz and were nominated for best new band in the Houston Press Music Awards, and newcomers Vanilla Sugar, an all-female electronic rock group that (from their video) reminds me of a mix between Evanescence and early Nine Inch Nails. They seem a little green now, but I’m rooting for them to keep moving forward in their sound as they may be a band on the rise in Houston very soon.