Live: Catch Fever/American Fangs/Featherface/BLSHS
WAREHOUSE LIVE — 2/21/14: Houston, yes, we’re rocking these days! There must have been four concerts I wanted to attend on this particular night, but I chose the Catch Fever Shiny Eyes CD release party. Catch Fever is a relatively new band, so they were very smart to assemble an absolutely killer and musically diverse Houston-based lineup for their big night. It brought me out early and kept me at Warehouse Live all evening.
First on the bill was BLSHS. Like Catch Fever, BLSHS (pronounced “blushes”) are also a relatively new group; this was my second time to see them live. I must have been in a bad mood the first time I saw them, because I didn’t really click with them, though I heard potential. This time I let go of my reservations (that they sound too ’80s for me, and I lived through the ’80s) and let their electronic pop music wash over me.
Singer Michelle Miears‘ voice soars and floats effortlessly over the rhythms and melodies of Chris Gore and Rick Carrouth‘s synthesizers. Sometimes her voice almost reminded me of Jimmy Sommerville from The Communards — that’s meant as high praise, because he practically owned this style in the mid-’80s.
They also have a Book of Love vibe, to boot, although they definitely add some new technology into the ’80s mix. Obviously, people are going to compare them to CHVRCHES, but certainly over the next year BLSHS will separate themselves from my simple-minded comparisons as they hone in on their own sound. They’re well on their way!
Featherface were up next. If you read my ramblings, you know that Featherface have been one of my favorite Houston bands for three years now, and they keep getting better. If you still don’t know the Featherface sound, well, they’re harmony-heavy power-pop with a psychedelic twist. You would think that this genre wouldn’t have much room left for originality, but amazingly, Featherface sound like nothing I can quickly compare them to. They just sound like four kids from the suburbs making great original music.
I really like that they’ve kept that youthful feel. And as far as expanding their sound goes, they did a psychedelic jam in their final song that sounded like nothing I’ve heard from them. I immediately told their bassist, Jake Harris, “more of that!”
As if these two bands weren’t enough, we were next treated to American Fangs. The Fangs put out one of my top 20 albums last year — not just from Houston, either, but from anywhere! So it was great to see them (for the first time since last year’s FPSF) again. Years and years of solid touring, opening huge shows for national bands that I am way too snobby and hipster to listen to (Papa Roach, Sevendust) have tightened American Fangs’ show down to a science. Just…wow.
And my first thought after they were done was that I wouldn’t want to have to follow that. It’s as if, being the perennial opening act, they have a chip on their collective shoulders. Every time they play out of town, they’re on a mission to win over the headliner’s fans. That can’t be an easy task, but at Warehouse Live, they were on their home turf and rocked a packed crowd of hometown fans. I’m sure for them it was a night to remember.
Finally we get to Catch Fever, who were having their big night. When you put out a CD, it’s almost like having a baby. Okay, I guess all the moms out there will be upset with the comparison, and never having had a baby, I don’t know if it’s that painful, but it is quite an ordeal to put out an album. Months of writing songs, recording, mixing, mastering and having arguments with the mastering engineer, hiring artists and/or designing artwork, buying and duplicating the albums, and on and on. And then you finally put it all out there with a giant party.
And then you realize…ten thousand other bands are doing the same thing in 2014. It’s heart-wrenching. But you do it, because that’s what you do in a band. All musicians are addicts. We all need to be heard. And honestly, that’s why I photograph and write about bands — because I want to be heard! So I do my part to make the other guys/gals get their just due.
Okay, back to Catch Fever: they brought it. First off, singer Taylor Huffman has an amazing tenor voice. That alone is enough to carry this band, but fortunately, they also have good songs and an excellent rhythm section (bassist Josh Wilson and drummer Doug Andreano). I was excited and surprised to find out they were only a three-piece (being in a three-piece band myself, I gravitate toward the “power trio”).
When I listened to their songs on Soundcloud, they instantly brought the band Dredg (a five-piece band from the San Francisco area) to mind. If you’re a Dredg fan, you will go immediately one way or the other with Catch Fever — you might like them because of the similarities (that’s what I felt), or you might be turned off and think their sound walks the line a little too closely to Dredg, which would be understandable.
Of course, if you’ve never heard of Dredg, then you won’t have to worry about that. In that case, you might compare them to other mid-2000s emo bands; Cave In comes to mind. God, I loved Cave-In during their “not too hardcore” era (Antenna is a must-hear!).
Anyway, Catch Fever played a relatively short set, leaving me wanting a little more — which is a great way to get me back to see them again, hopefully soon. END
Photos [top to bottom]: BLSHS; Gabe Cavazos (American Fangs); Josh Wilson (Catch Fever); Catch Fever. All photos by Jason Smith.)
[Catch Fever plays 7/18/14 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Otenki, Southerland Nights, Karma Points, & Spencer Fort.]