Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Bun B & Houston Symphony + Mike Doughty + The Head and the Heart + Henry Kaiser + Polica + SCENE FEST II + More

5ff690f4ac40a4cb97c8cf0f5c561cc7Dang. It’s Thursday, November 14th, and despite not technically being “the weekend” just yet, it sure as hell feels like we’re already there. And hey, tonight’s ridiculously-large slate of cool-ass shows going on kind of bears that out, too; here’s where you need to go this evening:

Houston In Concert Against Hate, featuring Bun B & Houston Symphony @ Jones Hall
YESSSS. Why hasn’t this happened before now? Or if it has, how in the hell have I not heard about it? Sadly, the show’s apparently sold out — although this article by cool Chron music dude Andrew Dansby seems to suggest that tickets may still be available today — but it still warrants a mention because of its awesome uniqueness.

The show’s been billed as “Houston In Concert Against Hate,” and it’ll feature the Houston Symphony Orchestra with iconic Houston/Beaumont rapper Bun B, who’ll be apparently rapping about local folks who’ve made a positive impact in the community. It actually sounds less like a “show” and more of a theater piece with music — there’ll be narration by actress Alfre Woodard, and the people Bun will be rapping/talking about are all real-live people, each with their own special story. If you can be at this, trust me, you need to be.

Mike Doughty/Moon Hooch @ Fitzgerald’s
Mike Doughty @ Cactus Music (5:30PM)

It’s funny, but while I’ve loved Soul Coughing for years, I’d kind of forgotten just how much I loved that freaking band until this week, when I dove back through the only three albums they ever made, 1994’s Ruby Vroom, 1996’s Irresistible Bliss, and 1998’s El Oso, and realized that I still know all the words to every damn song. I still know every goddamn chord change and beat and quirky lyric, like they’ve all been burned into my heart, and that’s a pretty awesome thing. (Although it does explain why I can’t remember shit most of the rest of the time…)

The reason for venturing backwards, by the by, is because Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty is playing tonight up at Fitzgerald’s (and doing a set over at Cactus before that), and instead of doing songs from last year’s covers album, The Flip Is Another Honey, he’ll be playing a whole set of songs from those three still-awesome albums. Whoa.

8048826676b7cef0632921fed1393182It’s fitting, really, because listening again recently, I was struck by how relevant the music Soul Coughing were making nearly 20 years ago sounds today; it’s like they were a band of time-travelers doing something that people never really understood back then…and now, you can hear echoes of their sound everywhere.

The Head and The Heart/Thao & the Get Down Stay Down/Quiet Life @ Warehouse Live
I’d been hoping/planning to review Let’s Be Still, the new album from indie-folk outfit The Head and the Heart, before their visit to our fair city, but sadly, as things go with the best-laid plans… I have been listening to it quite a bit, and I have to say, it’s damned impressive, in spite of my initial misgivings — to be honest, I’m kinda getting over the jangly, folky, rootsy pop bands littering my headphones these days. There’s a small set I actually really like…and then there’s about a million others that are just “meh.”

Happily, with Still THATH have planted themselves firmly in the former camp. They’re folky, sure, and there’s a serious Fleet Foxes resemblance here, but they also draw from ’70s-ish California folk-rock, and there’s a bright, countrified thread running through the whole thing, one that makes me think of Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo than it does any of the band’s more recent contemporaries. Gonna have to hear more, for sure.

Halaska @ Avant Garden
This one nearly slipped past me, I must admit — I only saw today that Austinites Halaska would be playing tonight up at the Avant Garden, and after falling head-over-heels for this summer’s Mayantology (see the review here), I couldn’t pass up mentioning it. These guys do an astounding, refreshingly different kind of prog-influenced pop, a sound that points to old-school weirdos like Devo and Frank Zappa and prog icons like Yes and Rush while simultaneously stepping forward to reference both indie-pop folks like Menomena and spacey instro-rockers like Explosions in the Sky or My Education. And believe it or not, it works.

Polica/Marijuana Deathsquads @ Fitzgerald’s
In case your night doesn’t yet feel bleak and dark and moody, well, the other floor of Fitz has the cure, with both Polica and Marijuana Deathsquads. The former is murky and electronicized pop with a slinky, sultry, almost trip-hop-y edge to it, like Everything But The Girl if they did too much drugs and ran headlong into some serious paranoia. The music skitters and steps around Channy Leaneagh‘s stunning vocals, appropriating some ’70s funk and ’80s synthpop along the way and fusing them into a framework of late ’00s electro.

1390752_10151942318383234_1006181937_nThen there’s Marijuana Deathsquads, which is a side project of sorts for members of Gayngs and Polica, among others, and yes, utterly awesome rapper/musician P.O.S. (who I’m glad to see is back on his feet again). Their music’s far weirder than that of their tourmates’; despite being generally kind of danceable, it’s more likely to make you start to groove and then stop and go, “wait, what?”

Henry Kaiser/David Dove/Damon Smith/Ryan Edwards/Sandy Ewen/Rebecca Novak @ 14 Pews (800 Aurora; 8PM, $10)
If I claimed I was real familiar with experimental guitarist/filmmaker Henry Kaiser, well, I’d be lying out of my ass. That said, I know of the guy by reputation, and what little I’ve been able to listen of his musical work is intriguing stuff. It definitely takes some effort to get into, but I’m already hoping to hear more soon.

Frankly, though, what fascinates me more about his shows in town this week aren’t the musical aspect but the film aspect; see, Kaiser also happens to be a scientific diver for the U.S. Antarctic Program, and so he’s spent 10 “seasons” down at the frozen continent, diving beneath the Ross Sea and — holy crap — filming it. At tonight’s show, he’ll start out playing guitar and talking over a short film he’s put together out of that footage, and then he’ll go into two more sets with a variety of local improv/experimental-music luminaries from around here, including David Dove, Sandy Ewen, & Damon Smith.

111Fans of interesting, mind-expanding music and imagery, here’s your evening planned out for you. You’re welcome.

SCENE FEST II, featuring Mama Tried, Thread Belly, Fox & Cats, Southbound, Mark Lum, Gaby Veray Trio, Radio Springs, Chris J. Hardy, Hold Fast Fables, Bruce Courtney, Cisco, & Matt Mejia @ Clear Lake Park Landolt Pavilion (5002 E. NASA Parkway, Seabrook; 5-9PM)
Southsiders, this one’s for you — SCENE FEST is a cool-sounding deal put on by Clear Lake-/Seabrook-area entertainment mag The SCENE, which has been around for so damn long now I don’t actually remember when it started. And they’ve got a hell of a lineup going, particularly with stellar indie-rock/pop duo Fox & Cats (who yours truly reviewed recently over here) and rootsy, throwback-sounding rock band Mama Tried. Get on out.

The Fresh Beat Band @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
What can I say? I’m a parent, so my kids make me watch this. And damn, the music on The Fresh Beat Band is surprisingly addictive…even if I’m still perturbed by the fact that they changed performer/character “Marina” to a totally different actress a couple of years ago. (At our house, we refer to her as NotMarina. Just sayin’.)

Plus, I’m honestly curious if they really, truly play their instruments; from concert footage, it looks like they do, but then there’s bits where it’s just them singing while the music magically plays from…somewhere else? I dunno. People with young’uns, this may be where you are tonight, and you’re probably not happy about it, but just think, it could be worse: at least you’re not watching a Spongebob Squarepants stage show, right?

Runners-Up:
Fiskadoro/Astrogenic Hallucinauting/Pulse Rifle/Sleets @ Sound Exchange (7-10PM; free!)
Berlin (feat. Terri Nunn) @ Numbers
Spectral Manifest/Doom Syndicate/Serpent Attack/Black Hole Caravan @ Rudyard’s
Vanna/Alpha & Omega/Betrayal/The Greenery @ Walter’s
Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man @ The Big Top
Kill Devil Hill/Black Water Rising/Swinging Teresa/Fallacy @ The Scout Bar (Clear Lake)


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