Madness on Main Street 2015 Rundown, Pt. 3: FEA + The Beans + The Gold Sounds + Thrill + PuraPharm + Children of Pop + Mantra Love + Race to the Moon
Alright, friends and countrymen and everybody else, we’re back once again with another batch of writeups (possibly the last one before the actual thing starts) of all the awesome folks playing this year’s Madness on Main Street Music Festival tomorrow, Saturday, May 2nd. There will be 30 or so excellent bands and solo musicians doing their thing over at The Continental Club, The Big Top, The Alley Kat, and The Pachinko Hut, all in that chunk of Main Street north of Richmond called Mid-Main.
Before we go further, if you feel like reading either of the previous two sets of writeups, you can check ’em out here and here. Then make your plans and get the hell on over there tomorrow evening, right? Right. Here we go:
I don’t know many bands from San Antonio. I’m sorry, I know I should (especially since my parents and one of my little brothers live there), but I don’t. The only one I do know is the mind-blowing Girl In A Coma. It turns out, though, that while GIAC is still alive and well (I think?), singer Nina Diaz is off doing a solo album and sister Phanie Diaz and bandmate Jenn Alva are doing their own thing, in a band called FEA, along with singer Letty Martinez and guitarist Aaron Lee.
So, what are they like? Well, I don’t have a lot to go by, only a solitary MP3, “Mujer Moderna,” and a couple of relatively distant videos, but judging from that, the band’s pretty impressive. They’re raw, snarling punk that owes a fair bit to the whole Riot Grrrl movement, only with the lyrics half in English and half in Spanish; they call themselves “Chicana punk rock,” and hey, that works pretty well for me. Plus, they’re on Joan Jett‘s Blackheart Records, which gives it even a little bit more coolness.
[FEA plays at 11:45PM at The Big Top.]
I wrote about these guys back in 2013, before the first(?) Yes, Indeed! Fest put on by Jason Smith and Bassman Pep, also organizers of this here festival, and I’m happy to say that the favorable impression I got from listening to their recorded stuff came through even more live up on the Last Concert Cafe stage.
In person, they were nicely gritty and rough around the edges, blasting their way through some seriously bluesy, muddy-bottom funky rawk as frontman Sam Griffin bounced and strolled around the stage; they were scuffed-up like an old, rundown-yet-solid sneaker and fun as hell, like some sort of crossbreed between The Black Keys and early Maroon 5. And yes, I know full well how weird that sounds, but dangit, it worked.
[The Beans plays at 11PM at The Continental Club.]
The Gold Sounds
Oh, hell yes. It has been far, far too long since I last saw (or even heard) The Gold Sounds; after about four years there where they were inescapable around town, Deer Park’s favorite (to me, anyway) sons seemed to have ridden off into the sunset, and the joys of married life and dad-hood. Disappointed though I was, I certainly couldn’t fault ’em for it — heck, this site right here takes a pretty severe backseat to the munchkins who live at our house, so I know how it goes.
When I saw their name on the MoM schedule, then, my heart skipped a beat. I’m curious, obviously, to see what the intervening handful of years — I think their last show was in 2012 — has done to the band and how they’ve been doing. I suspect they’ll have matured a bit, but I’m hoping not too much, because I dearly loved that raw, unapologetic, loud-yet-tuneful trio of rock kids who could jump from the full-throated roar of “Blow My Soul to the Floor” to the Kings of Leon-esque buzz of “College Radio” without missing a damn beat. I’ve got my fingers crossed that they haven’t grown up too much.
[The Gold Sounds plays at 9:45PM at The Big Top.]
Y’know what I’ve been missing for most of these writeups so far? Some plain-old, straightforward, full-speed punk rock. Happily, Thrill is here to fill that void. These three kids get up there on stage and bash their way through garage-y punk tunes that point backwards to the Ramones, The Dead Boys, and Television, just guitar-bass-drums, snarling vocals, distortion pedals, and thumping, careening rhythms.
Granted, that’s from the little bit I’ve been able to hear from the band, pretty much from a handful of videos from either the practice/recording space or the Continental Club, about half of which are covers of classics like “Sonic Reducer” and “You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party”; in reality, they could be a different band. I’m kinda hoping not, though, because it makes me sincerely happy to see three young guys just pounding out old-school-style rawk like it’s 1976 all over again. In my perfect world, that never dies.
[Thrill plays at 6:45PM at The Big Top.]
Just like with The Beans, the one time I’ve been able to see PuraPharm was also at the first-ever Yes, Indeed!; they were playing outside under a tent just after the sun set, if I recall correctly, which made a surprisingly good setting for the band’s dark, atmospheric space-rock sound. At first they seemed a little bit nervous to be exposed like that, but that nervousness didn’t come through a bit in any of the music, and the band swayed and languidly rocked out behind frontwoman Tessa Kole as she roared and swooped in and around the instruments.
Kole’s definitely the focal point, mind you, with a voice that’s one of the most powerful of any rock vocalist in town, male or female, and which makes me think of Siouxsie Sioux at her best. She knows when to step back into the background a bit, as well, as on “100% Pure,” where the band mines a more psychedelic groove, coming off like The Darling Buds mixed up with the chilled-out side of Primal Scream (well, to me, anyway), or maybe a less-aggressive Curve. I’m really excited to see what the band can do up on an actual, real-live stage this time; it’s bound to be damn good.
[PuraPharm plays at 10PM at The Continental Club.]
Children of Pop
So, this one’s a little bit odd. Children of Pop, the electronic project of Chase Demaster, is playing, but only to do DJ sets early on in the festival and then while bands set up and take down their gear. So it sounds like it won’t be actual Children of Pop songs that are being played, but whatever wackiness Chase feels like putting on.
Which, hey, is cool by me, and I’m betting Chase needs a break from the “band” show after his recent tour across Texas and up through the Northeast and East Coast. He’s an interesting guy, to be sure, so I’m betting the stuff he plays in his DJ set is equally cool. And what the heck, even though you might not hear it tomorrow night, check out Children of Pop’s most recent release, a remix of a Dream Safari track…
[Children of Pop plays at 5PM at The Pachinko Hut.]
Then we have Pearland(!) dudes Mantra Love, who — true to their name — play music that’s trippy and hazy, psychedelic in the ’60s sense of the word without most of the refinements/additions used by some more contemporary psych bands. From what I can hear, at least, Mantra Love are true fans of old, old, old-school psychedelic rock, and they’re doing their level best to keep that sound alive.
Now, there’s not currently a lot to hear from these guys, I’m afraid, beyond a handful of demos on Bandcamp, but it appears that’ll change soon. The band’s been working on their first actual release for at least the past month, so hopefully they’ll release that soon; in the meantime, prepare yourself for some seriously throwback psych sounds and swirly lights.
[Mantra Love plays at 5:30PM at The Alley Kat.]
Race to the Moon
Last but far from least, there’s Race to the Moon, who play seriously indie-flavored rock that’s firmly in the vein of that late-’80s/early-’90s golden age of the sound, back when it’d first broken apart from the general punk realm. They claim Dinosaur Jr. and Wilco as their main influences, but to me they more bring to mind folks like Mission of Burma and even Fugazi, albeit with a bit more of a Sebadoh-type jangle to it.
The band has yet to release a whole lot of music, unfortunately, but I’m liking what’s out there, especially lately. Their self-titled debut EP is pretty decent, but new 7″ “Burned Out”/”Take It” is a big leap forwards for the band, showing off a tightness and an energy that the earlier stuff doesn’t have. It’s pretty great to hear, particularly because, yeah, I’m a huge fan of Burma, Hüsker Dü, Pere Ubu, and the like. Psyched to see what these guys are like live…
[Race to the Moon plays at 12:45AM at The Big Top.]
And that’ll do it for us over here at SCR, y’all. Hope to see some of you out at the festival tomorrow night; say “hey” if you see yours truly, and I swear, I’ll try not to act all weird and twitchy.
(Photos [top to bottom]: FEA; The Beans; The Gold Sounds; Thrill; PuraPharm; Children of Pop (kind of); Mantra Love; Race to the Moon. The Beans photo by Danny Hernandez; Mantra Love photo by Katie Sikora Photography.)