Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: The Phlegmatics + Kirke Campbell + Places to Hide + Murder City Devils + American Sharks + More

59000_569327183160782_1331851057_nBack from Vacation Time, and naturally, I’m late again with this week’s big pile of cool-ass shows. Tonight’s Friday, January 3rd, the start of the first weekend of the year, and while it’s not that busy a night, there’re still some cool-sounding shows happening.

Before we get into ’em, though, I want to point up a new local music-related site that’s apparently popped up recently, Houston Trash, that I ran across today while looking at what shows were going on. Not a lot there yet, but it looks promising so far, with blurbs about shows and (gasp!) an actual shows list, and hey, I’m all for more folks doing writeups of shows — it’s been a bit lonely over here since The Skyline Network died and Ramon stopped doing his weekly posts over at Free Press Houston. Welcome to the ‘hood, y’all — glad to have you…

Anyway, here we go:

The Phlegmatics/Treehouse Project/Haksaw Man @ Rudyard’s
Yes, yes, yes. I dunno if this means the guys in The Phlegmatics heard my whining about their Punxsatawney Phil-like habit of popping up once a year (or three) and playing a single solitary show before diving back into their groundhog hole (okay, this metaphor’s getting weird) until they release a new album, but I’m hopeful it means they’re breaking the streak. The band seldom plays live, preferring to record quietly for a couple of years and then nonchalantly drop a release on the unsuspecting public, and while that’s cool and all, dangit, if they were more visible, I swear to God they’d be better-known.

And they totally should be better-known, because their three albums so far — 2004’s Alumnus, 2009’s Billy the Star Fighter Pilot vs. The Phlegmatics, and this past year’s Life is Better with a Soundtrack — play out like a trifecta of unabashedly geeky, hooky, Weezer-loving, power-pop goodness.

Think Cheap Trick if they were total nerds, or The Descendents with stadium-ready guitars, or The Stereo minus the pretension, and you’ll maybe-kinda be in the ballpark. I’ll freely admit that they can take some getting used to — the first time I heard “My Mom Thinks I’m Cool,” I wasn’t sure whether to smirk or rock the hell out — but once I got past that initial instinct to brush it off as goofy nonsense, I realized something crucial: these guys are really fucking good.

Caffeinated/Kirke Campbell/Places to Hide/Tigerparty @ Mango’s (free!)
Over at Mango’s, then — which has been lining up some damn fine-looking shows lately, I might add — there’s a cool, somewhat lower-key lineup of post-emo goodness. See the writeup on Atlanta band Places to Hide by the folks over at the previously-mentioned Houston Trash for some info; they sound pretty entertaining, although personally, my money’s on Kirke Campbell.

0fd06a233d4f2ce8a461e228b18bf6c8Campbell was once upon a time the frontman for Teenage Kicks, one of the best damn Brit-influenced pop-punk bands I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing/hearing, and when that band acrimoniously collapsed, I believe he decided to skip town for a while. Not sure where he went or how long he’s been back, but wherever he’s been hiding, I’m very glad to see it, because he’s a damn fine songwriter that more people really, truly need to hear.

Murder City Devils/American Sharks/Crooked Bangs @ Fitzgerald’s
Rounding out tonight’s abbreviated pile is this show up at Fitz, with loud, raw Seattle garage-punks Murder City Devils blowing the roof off the place. Their snarling and scraping punk sound is pretty damn awesome, especially in this age of overproduced, electronicized shinyness, and the same goes for show-mates American Sharks, which is Houston expat Mike Harding‘s “new” band up in Austin (R.I.P., BOLT…) and which is flat-out freaking awesome.

Think I’m kidding? Check out the official video for crushing, thundering brawler “Overdrive,” then, right here:

Runners-Up:
Street Scorcher’s First Annual Rapathon, featuring Play Right, Cas, Rizzo Mayne, Pistol P, Buns, Joe Words, Tone of Lab Ent., Ant, Cody Ray, White Rob, Def-Tone, & Cutta @ Eastdown Warehouse (850 McKee; $10)
Dead Kings/Mojave Red/Mother Ghost/This Time I Brought Bombs @ Notsuoh (free!)
We Are Computers/The Heroin Kids/Tan Dragon Clan/Silver Blueberry @ BFE Rock Club
Disco Expressions/Picture Book @ The Continental Club
Charles Bryant/Willy T. Golden/Roger Tausz/Blake Plsek/Chris Hardy @ Last Concert Cafe ($7)


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