Yes, Indeed! 2015 Rundown, Pt. 2: Tightn’ Up + Son of Bitch + Bang Bangz + The Wandering Bufaleros + The Clicky Boots + Carpet and the Drapes + Carmeci + Guilla + Sik Mule + Second Lovers + Brown Sabbath
Hey, folks — we’re back again with the second bunch of writeups for Yes, Indeed! Music Fest 2015, which happens tomorrow, Saturday, September 19th, and which promises to a hell of a good time with much awesome music involved. Head on over to the magical near-Downtown nexus known as Mid-Main and enjoy bouncing from The Continental Club, The Alley Kat, Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top, and The Pachinko Hut, trying to see and hear as many bands & musicians as possible.
Seriously, it’s a lot of fun, and well worth the $20 it’ll cost you for the whole damn thing. Without further ado, here’re some of the folks you might well end up seeing:
First out of the gate today is a band I’ve heard of and been intrigued by for a little while now but which I haven’t yet been able to see. Tightn’ Up take their name from the ’60s Archie Bell hit, and from the little bit I’ve been able to hear, they’re doing their best to push the H-town funk/soul tradition forwards. There’s been a little mini-Renaissance of similarly-minded bands happening the last couple of years around here, with folks like Electric Attitude, The Suffers, and The Beans (to name only a couple that pop to mind immediately), and it’s very, very cool to be able to add another to the list.
Listening to the band play, it’s obvious as hell that they love what they do and are throwing themselves headlong into it. I dearly love the double-percussion thing, in particular, and the frontwoman (whose name I don’t know, sorry) is ridiculously talented all by herself; this band’s still in its early stages, for sure, but I’m already psyched as hell to see where they go and what they do.
[Tightn’ Up plays at 6PM at The Continental Club.]
Son of Bitch
Yesterday we had The Working Girls, and today we have their through-a-mirror-darkly band of twins, Pittsburgh’s Son of Bitch, who play a similarly “old-timey” style of music that roams and rambles its way across the wide-open vastness of our fair country, going from Appalachian hootenanny stomp to murder-minded bluegrass to way-out-West Ennio Morricone-esque dirges, and holy shit is it fun.
Granted, it can get a little loose and slapdash at times, at least on 2013’s Venus and the Cat, but to me that just makes the whole thing that much more endearing. Plus, on about half the songs I’ve heard frontman Christopher Seymore sounds exactly like The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle if he decided to give up literate indie-rock and go front an intensely sincere, no-bullshit bluegrass band.
[Son of Bitch plays at 9:15PM at The Pachinko Hut.]
Next up is a somewhat more familiar face, and a definite shift sideways in terms of sound. Far from the realms of Appalachian folk/bluegrass/etc., Bang Bangz are just about the ultimate “urban”-sounding band; dark and murky and drifting, they make me think of nothing so much as driving through the uncrowded city streets late, late at night, just you and the car and your thoughts. It’s seductive and sensuous, true, but at the same time covered in a hard, shiny metallic shell.
The coolest thing about these folks, though, is that they seem to never really stop moving. They put out an EP and follow-up full-length in quick succession, and then last year the quartet took a trip together down to Mexico City, where they traveled around and played music, filming the whole thing as they went. Oh, and then they released the music from the trip on their Website, for free. Word is they’ve been working on a new album, as well, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, check out the official Mexico tour video, below.
[Bang Bangz plays at 10:45PM at The Alley Kat.]
The Wandering Bufaleros
I got to witness the awesomeness of The Wandering Bufaleros live and in-person at last year’s Madness on Main festival, the “sister” to the Yes, Indeed! Fest, and it was truly everything I’d hoped it’d be: a rotating, loose-fitting cast of bright lights in Houston’s Americana/roots scene, all up on a single stage having a freaking blast playing their hearts out to a small-yet-appreciative crowd. The music swung across the whole “Americana” realm, touching on country (both alt- and old-school) and folk and blues and even some balls-out classic-tinged rock (think Thin Lizzy or Tom Petty, and you’ll get the idea).
I got the distinct impression that even if the room had been empty, Dwight Taylor Lee and his Bufaleros would’ve still been happy as hell to play; they weren’t up there to make some crowd of passers-by happy, no, but rather to just play some excellent roots-rock/country-folk tunes, some rollicking and wild and some quieter and sweeter, and enjoy the moment themselves. And how can you go wrong with that? You just can’t.
[The Wandering Bufaleros plays at 8PM at The Continental Club.]
The Clicky Boots
It’s funny, but it sure feels like this year’s Yes, Indeed! Fest has a definite theme going on — I’ll admit it may just be the luck of the draw, but damn near every band I’m listening to right now in preparation for Saturday is either A) a rootsy, Americana-ish, countrified kind of outfit or B) a gritty, dirty, funky groove band. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, far from it; just making the observation.
The Clicky Boots, who hail from right here in Houston but who I’ve never heard before, fall closer to the latter camp than the former, for sure. They’ve got a seriously bluesy sound a lot of the time, a gutbucket, dimly-lit barroom stomp that’s underscored by some really, really nice horns (yay, a freaking saxophone!) and which tosses a heavy helping of garage-y surf-rock on top. And yes, I am very much enjoying the blues-surf-soul car-crash coming out of the headphones, thank you very much.
[The Clicky Boots plays at 7:15PM at The Pachinko Hut.]
Carpet and the Drapes
Alright, I’ve got to be honest, here — I don’t have much clue at all what these guys sound like. Carpet and the Drapes have only been around since February of this year, apparently, and so far I’ve only run across two measly videos of the band playing (one of which is a quick clip of the tail end of a song). Not a lot to go on, y’know?
From what I can hear, they sound nicely bluesy and grimy, which is always, always good by me, with a bit of a Black Keys influence if the Ohio band liked to boogie and party more than they do. At first I found myself thinking of early Beatles, but I think they’re more down-home and Southern-fried than Liverpudlian, really. What little bit of music that’s available from the trio is promising, for sure — hopefully we’ll get more sometime soon.
[Carpet and the Drapes plays at 5:45PM at The Alley Kat.]
I’ve heard about Carmeci for several years, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually crossed paths with him at all ’til now; he’s just never really been my thing, y’know? I don’t know if I’d call his music “Christian rock,” strictly speaking, but there’s definitely that bent to it, and beyond that, he’s a whole lot more Buzz-friendly than most things I tend to like.
That said, now that I’m giving Carmeci a listen, I’m grudgingly having to admit that his (their?) music’s not half bad. It’s alt-rock, to be sure, and it does sound like it’d be a shoo-in to get airplay on The Buzz (and from what I understand, it already has), but even with that, there’re some nice touches, like the dancehall toasting on “Life” and the occasional musings on the nature of modern society and how we need to care for one another. Oh, and the guitars are nicely sharp and solid, which is always a plus in my book.
[Carmeci plays at 6:15PM at The Pachinko Hut.]
Caught rapper Guilla at FPSF this summer, and it was mostly accidental; I wasn’t real familiar with the guy, so I was attempting to slide on by on the way to one of the other stages…and then I got sucked in and found myself standing there in the broiling sun and enjoying the fuck out of it. The guy has magnetism, that’s for damn sure.
After that, and after listening to some of his tracks since, I’m feeling pretty confident that Guilla’s going to end up one of H-town’s shining icons, and that day is going to be soon. He crafts lyrics that are smart but sincere and real, he’s funny and pissed-off at the same time, and the beats are addictive and original, not an obvious branch from anybody else I’ve heard around here lately. Keep an eye out…
[Guilla plays at 9:45PM at The Alley Kat.]
And then, we come back to the blues, or at least to the blues-rock. Sik Mule bring to mind fellow Houstonians The Beans, at least to me — they’ve got a similar swagger and delivery, a similar melding of rock with get-down blues and soul, and a similar fire burning deep, deep inside that’s demanding to be released.
Guitarist/singer Watson Parker (whose parents, by the by, my geeky self suspects must be comic book fans…) howls and roars like an old-school blues shouter and pummels his guitar like a he’s playing in a totally different band, one that’s rawer and more punk than the rest of the group’s sound would seem to indicate. I’ll admit it: I was skeptical of these guys before I’d even heard ’em, but now, I’m pretty well sold. They’ve got an album on the way, it looks like, and I’ll be watching for it.
[Sik Mule plays at 5:30PM at The Big Top.]
Ah, Second Lovers. I freaking love this band, and I finally, finally got to see them live a little while back. And honestly? It was way, way beyond anything I’d even hoped for. The songs are pretty great all on their own, absolutely, especially newer stuff like new song “Hold On” and “Alright”, but live they’re a whole other ballgame. Up on stage, they play like a gang of people who know the music and one another, inside and out, and — a lot like the Wandering Bufaleros, above — they’re just having a great time making music.
Singers Nicolas Morales and Chelsea Renee play off of one another effortlessly, grinning and belting out the lyrics like they’ve never done anything else (and damn, can they sing), while Thom Truver rips through these Brit-rock-sounding riffs that launch off in a different direction from the band’s rootsy sound but still work beautifully, bassist Sean Spiller anchors the rowdy, room-shaking sound with low-but-nimble basslines, Josh Hammond‘s drums propel the whole song forwards, and John Maxwell rocks a mandolin harder than I’d thought was possible. Imagine Springsteen playing with Townes Van Zandt at a beer-fueled party for you and several dozen of your best, closest friends, and you’ll be in the ballpark…
[Second Lovers plays at 8:15PM at The Pachinko Hut.]
Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath
And last but absolutely not least, there’s the ultimate headliners of the whole Yes, Indeed! extravaganza, Austin’s Brownout doing their own unique take on classic Sabbath tunes as Brown Sabbath. Imagine Sabbath with bright, sharp horns where Tommy Iommi’s sludgy riffs should go (well, some of ’em, anyway), funky-ass percussion (with timbales, I think?), an occasional ’70s B-movie vibe, and a stoned-to-oblivion psych backdrop to it all.
It’s really something different and amazing, seriously, and I’m liking it way more than I’d expected to, even with the hype surrounding the band; turns out it’s well-deserved, for once. The Brownout guys (who spun off the group from their original band, Grupo Fantasma, who are also well-known around H-town) play Sabbath not as a joke, like some schticky cover band, but with obvious love for the source material. They really dig the music; they’re just playing it their way, and nobody else’s. And yeah, it’s a hell of a thing to witness.
[Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath plays at 12AM at The Continental Club.]
Alright, and now I go and pass out for a while (it’s been a rough few weeks since the kids headed back to school). Not sure we’ll be able to cover the remaining bands playing at Yes, Indeed! this year, but if not, get your ass on out there tomorrow. Trust me on this. ‘Night…
(Photos [top to bottom]: Tightn’ Up; Son of Bitch; Bang Bangz; The Clicky Boots; Carpet and the Drapes; Carmeci; Guilla; Sik Mule; Second Lovers; Brown Sabbath. Carmeci photo by Patricia Rodriguez; Guilla photo by Tiffany Villarreal.)