Yes, Indeed! 2015, This Saturday! (Rundown, Pt. 1): Bee Caves + The Working Girls + Jealous Creatures + Black Kite + Moji + Blue Healer + Wrestlers + RIVERS + Handsomebeast

11816987_870464363033156_6771189385720116090_nAnd speaking of festival-type things… Yup, this coming Saturday, September 19th, is the 2015 installment of the ever-excellent Yes, Indeed! Music Festival run by SCR‘s own Jason Smith and Energizer Bunny-like cohort Phil “Bassman Pep” Peterson. And if you haven’t been before now, well, you definitely need to do it this time around.

I’ve got a big old soft spot for Yes, Indeed! (and its “companion” festival in the spring, Main Street Madness), and not just because Jason & Pep are good people and good friends, but also because it’s a low-key, down-to-earth, hang-with-your-friends alternative to the big mega-sized festivals like FPSF or Something Wicked, or even mid-sized ones like Untapped or Houston Whatever Fest, and it gives a hell of a lot of time to local, smaller-name bands who aren’t ever going to make it up on even a small stage at FPSF these days.

Honestly, with the demise of the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase, there’s really no other local festival that’s this focused on local music and hardworking local musicians. Jason, Pep, and their crew of volunteer helpers have filled a major void in the city’s scene, and that’s something that I don’t think gets recognized much. My hat’s off to y’all.

Now, for the crucial details — everything kicks off at 5PM on Saturday, with performances scattered across various stages: the Heights Vinyl Stage at The Continental Club; the 8th Wonder Beer Garden at The Pachinko Hut (aka, That Weird Little Shack back behind The Continental); the Killem Collective Stage at The Alley Kat; and the Southside Espresso Stage at The Big Top.

For the uninitiated, that means you get your wristband at the Continental Club and then spend the evening strolling up and down Mid-Main, listening to 30 or so truly excellent bands and musicians, all for a measly $20.

With that out of the way, here goes:

beecaves2Bee Caves
Austinites Bee Caves start things off, and with a bang, no less. I’d heard rave reviews of these folks from friends, and last year’s Animals With Religion proves those friends right quite handily, showcasing a band that treads the line between warm-hearted, downcast roots-folk and epic, high-minded psych-rock in a way I wouldn’t have guessed was possible. They’ll delve deep into backwoodsy gospel on one track, then shift gears smoothly into subtle, bumping electro-pop on the next, and then roaring, dramatic, Stills-esque rock on the track after that.

There’s a lot of this band that I love to death, despite my relatively limited exposure to their music. They make me think of fellow Austin-dwellers The Eastern Sea at some points, Toronto’s Ketch Harbour Wolves at others, and California psych-fuzz band Silversun Pickups at others, and it all sounds like it was meant to go together, despite the odds. Make sure you catch this band this Saturday, alright?
[Bee Caves plays at 9PM at The Continental Club.]


 

theworkinggirls1The Working Girls
Oh, wow; I definitely wasn’t expecting that. For some reason, I’d gotten it into my head that The Working Girls were some kind of snarling, scraping punk band, when the reality is about as far as it’s humanly possible to get from that point. No punk rock here; instead, the Girls deliver music that’s determinedly retro, even “old-timey”, pulling in influences from the early days of country music, bluegrass, and Appalachian hymns to craft a sound you’re not likely to hear these days outside of, say, the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

More than anything else, I find myself thinking of the legendary Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard when I hear the Girls’ high-lonesome harmony vocals and that nimble-yet-mournful banjo. The music’s slow and gentle but warm and welcoming, too, making you feel like you’re sitting on a porch somewhere listening to these folks play purely for their own enjoyment. And that’s a very, very cool thing.
[The Working Girls plays at 5:15PM at The Pachinko Hut.]


 

jealouscreatures1Jealous Creatures
I know it seems like I should be running out of good things to say about this band, but damn, Jealous Creatures are really something special. Dusty and “Western” without being country in the slightest, rough-edged and rootsy like the Cowboy Junkies, and raw and awesome like ’90s indie-rock, all at the same time, they’re a band that’s forged a sound I’ve never really heard anywhere else, and they’re very good at it.

Not that they’d agree with me, mind you — they also happen to be some of the most self-effacing people I’ve ever met. But guitarist Ian Hlavacek is excellent, playing these fluid, Neil Young-ish leads like it’s no big deal, singer/guitarist Sarah Hirsch has an amazing, powerful voice that’s both soulful and torn-up, and rhythm section members Josh Barry and Meghan Anderson are ridiculously laidback and calm, playing some truly great parts with unstudied nonchalance. Live, they’re something to see, believe me, and check out new album The Night Goes on for Days, below.
[Jealous Creatures plays at 7:30PM at The Big Top.]


 

Black Kite
I was only introduced to Black Kite via this spring’s Madness on Main Street, and I’m still kicking myself now for not getting there early enough to see/hear them play. In the intervening months, though, I’ve gotten to listen to the handful of recordings they’ve done so far, and I’m mightily, mightily impressed.

The music is dark, ethereal, and alluring, albeit with a layer of menace lurking beneath the sound. Vicky Tippit‘s angelic, distant voice soars and swoops like a cross between Imogen Heap and Beth Gibbons, and James Templeton (aka LIMB) builds these clicking, twitching, stuttering soundscapes across which Tippit can skate; there’re elements of ’90s darkwave bands, for sure, with a particular resemblance to the elegaic beauty of Dead Can Dance, but the sound is distinctly modern and glitchy, making me think specifically of Squarepusher. It’s intriguing, addictive stuff.
[Black Kite plays at 9:30PM at The Big Top.]


 

moji1Moji
Another band I was introduced to by Madness on Main Street this past spring, Moji call themselves an indie-rock band, but what they are, really, is a jazzy rock band with some deep, deep soul roots and little hints of psych-ish rock peeking through the cracks. On new EP Desert Son (what I’ve been able to hear of it, anyway), they drift along serenely, fusing together those jazz, soul, and psych-rock influences with a big dose of the blues and some tropical/Latin rhythms, and it all works beautifully.

Of course, the band’s got a big point in their favor in frontwoman Moji Abiola; she can be a sultry crooner when she wants to, but she can also belt it out like Billie Holiday or Bessie Smith, and when she really cuts loose, it’s pretty incredible. Check out “Free,” in particular, to hear her get down and dirty, Delta blues-style.
[Moji plays at 8:30PM at The Big Top.]


 

bluehealer1Blue Healer
Alright, now this one was completely new to me, and I’m afraid I didn’t know a hell of a lot about the band, beyond the fact that Blue Healer hailed from Austin. Well, that and they’re an oddball three-piece, with drums, keys, and an upright bass; it’s a quirky choice of instrumentation, especially since they’re no kind of jazz band, but they do some interesting stuff with it.

It turns out, though, that singer/bassist David Beck used to be half of acclaimed outfit Sons of Fathers, which I’ve liked when I’ve heard ’em, and which apparently split up a while back now. He’s got a voice that keeps making me think of X Ambassadors’ early stuff, with a confident, blues-tinged swagger to it, although that plus Dees Stribling‘s solid drums, Bryan Mammel‘s otherworldly, UFO-sounding keys, and those rubbery/watery basslines sounds like something else entirely. Think Soul Coughing reinvented as a space-blues band, and you’ll come kinda-sorta close.
[Blue Healer plays at 7:45PM at The Alley Kat.]


 

wrestlers1Wrestlers
Once upon a time, there was a duo called Bagheera. They appeared seemingly out of nowhere and quickly established themselves as shining stars in the local EDM scene here in Houston and started making waves elsewhere. They made EDM that was funky and heavily house-influenced, and they turned a ton of heads. They then changed their name to Wrestlers and became something somewhat different but still damn near as cool as the older stuff.

These days, as Wrestlers, bandmates Aidan Kennedy and Dave Elkin seem less like yet another EDM act and more like, well, like an actual band. They’ve got a live drummer, and they play guitar, bass, and keys live, too, which is all very cool by me. I’m afraid I’ve only heard remixes they’ve been doing lately, so I’m not sure what they actually sound like now, but I’m psyched to see/hear what they’ve been up to.
[Wrestlers plays at 11:45PM at The Alley Kat.]


 

rivers1RIVERS
Yes, yes, yes. RIVERS has gone through some changes lately themselves, but I’m still liking it… See, with first album Mind Your Mind, they came off like a raw, fuzzed-out gang of grunge revivalists, and it was pretty goddamn sweet — lots of fuzz, snarling/threatening vocals, and Mudhoney-esque sludge seeping right out of the speakers/headphones.

Now, though, they’re looking further back down the line for inspiration; on 2014’s Fables In Slang, they sound less like a grunge band and more like a band that inspired all those grunge bands. They’ve gone a lot more towards an old-school garage-psych sound, blazing along like The Sonics or The Animals on a whole lot of booze and cheap speed; there’s an organ making itself heard in there, along with a lot of howled/yelped vocals and some hazy, echoey, loose-limbed guitars. Don’t get me wrong: I still dearly love “Spirit Child,” but it’s nice to see these guys moving forwards…even if that means going backwards in time.
[RIVERS plays at 6:45PM at The Alley Kat.]


 

handsomebeast1Handsomebeast
I was first exposed to Handsomebeast through last year’s Yes, Indeed! Fest, having heard of ’em while never actually hearing ’em before that point. And with 2014 release Estilo Gacho, they sounded damn promising, a bunch of psych-tinged funk-rockers who were right there on the verge of something very cool, so I’ve been keeping an eye on the band since.

It’s a good thing, too, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have heard this year’s release, Sexy Face Reaction Time, from back in April. Despite being only a five-song EP, it takes the promise of Estilo and makes it a real freaking thing, packing a full load of gritty, dirty, distorted, energetic-as-fuck bluesy funk into about half the space. As I mentioned back then, I kinda left my funk-rock phase a while ago for the most part, but even still, I’m liking this a whole hell of a lot.
[Handsomebeast plays at 6:30PM at The Big Top.]


 

And that’s it for me for tonight, I’m afraid; I can barely see/think straight right now. More to come, don’t worry…

(Photos [top to bottom]: Bee Caves; The Working Girls; Jealous Creatures; Moji; Blue Healer; Wrestlers; RIVERS; Handsomebeast. Bee Caves photo by Barbara FG; Jealous Creatures photo by Michael Villegas; Moji photo by Trish Badger.)


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