This Weekend: Rock Out & Laugh Your Ass Off at Houston Whatever Fest

12239313_1659982927622167_5919012700260908203_oHey, all — I know, it’s been a while, right? This past fall yours truly has been somewhat on hiatus, swamped with work and home-related things and reluctant to even touch the damn keyboard (unless it has to do with stupid-ass political debates on Facebook, mind you, because people are stupid and because yes, I’m one of those stupid people who argues with other stupid people online even though it makes no difference). As a result, I’ve fallen way, way behind when it comes to all things musical and Houston-related and whatever else.

I’m desperately hoping to get things back on track, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so bear with us, eh?

In the meantime, this weekend is a big-ass red-letter day because it happens to be when one of my absolute favorite festivals is going on, Houston Whatever Fest, which runs today and tomorrow, Saturday, November 21st, and Sunday, November 22nd (and yes, it’s already underway today; sorry about that), at the EaDo Party Park (aka “right behind Warehouse Live and next to the BBVA Compass Stadium). This city’s seen a whole lot of music festivals come and go over the years, but this one I like a whole hell of a lot more than most, and I’m truly hoping it sticks around.

I like HWF for multiple reasons, now that I’m thinking about it. For one thing, the organizers have excellent, wide-ranging, I-like-this-so-who-cares? taste in music, pulling in both big names and more obscure (but still good) bands and musicians and dragging in some excellent Houston-based folks, besides.

For their second year of existence, they’ve somehow managed to get freaking GZA of the Wu-Tang to make an appearance (he’ll be doing all of Liquid Swords, I’m told), plus gore-spewing shock-metal gang GWAR, slinky electro-pop icons Metric, arena-sized electronic outfit Ghostland Observatory, swamp-fuzz duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat (who are mesmerizing live, seriously), pop-punks The Ataris, H-town rapper Lil Flip (who’s good, but who I must admit I mostly remember for that whole leprechaun schtick he had going a while back), rising-fast pop band Saint Motel (who my daughter dearly loves), and excellent, rootsy garage-rockers Heartless Bastards. I know I’m missing several, but my brain hurts…

On the local end of the spectrum, too, there’s a ton of highlights — destructo-rapper B L A C K I E, power-pop heroes Brand New Hearts, Irish folk-punks The Dead Rabbits, melodic post-emo dudes the last place you look (one of my absolute favorite bands from anywhere, I should note), insanely nimble-fingered prog-rockers Sunrise and Ammunition, NY/H-town rapper Fat Tony, murky, dark electro-pop band Bang Bangz, super-murky, dark electro-pop(?) band Black Kite (to whom I’ve been listening a lot lately), smart-ass pop-punk kids Waterparks, ruggedly amazing roots-rockers Second Lovers, raw, metal-edged rockers We Were Wolves, super-talented rapper Guilla (who I got a taste of at FPSF this year), and holy shit, Texas ska icons The Suspects, among others. It’s a seriously excellent lineup.

What sets HWF apart, though, is that the focus isn’t only on music. There’s also spoken word stuff going on, food trucks to eat at/from, and wrestling (um, really?), and air guitar competitions, and yes, a crapload of awesome stand-up comedy. Houston’s comedy scene is something I’m still not super plugged-into — see David Garrick over at Free Press Houston for that; he’s your man — but what I’ve heard and seen of it is pretty phenomenal.

There’s a burgeoning underground of comics, all of whom are funny, unique people, quite a few of whom are poised to break out into the mainstream, and hey, guess what? A lot of them are appearing at HWF this weekend, alongside big names from elsewhere you may recognize, like ex-SNL cast member Brooks Wheelan, Comedy Central mainstay Doug Benson, TJ Miller (who’s currently entertaining as hell on Silicon Valley), and Chris Cubas. (Those are the names I know, anyway.)

In terms of locals, you should really catch Dusti Rhodes, Andrew Youngblood (who’s also one of the people behind HWF), Bob Biggerstaff, Gabe Bravo, and Brian Zeolla, because they’re all really goddamn funny. These folks (and others like ’em) are putting H-town on the comedy map, honest.

So there you go. Like I said, Whatever Fest is already happening, but hey, it’s not too late — pry your ass up off of the couch and get over to, um, EaDo (sorry, but that’s a freaking dumb name). Laugh, bang your head, eat, laugh some more, rock some more, and so on, and so on, until life feels good at last.

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