Madness on Main 2016 Rundown, Pt. 2: Color Gravity + The Houston Craze + Keeton Coffman + The Broken Spokes + Daed + The Skatastrophics

13063164_207917559595013_130682966001447350_oAnd here we are, back again with the second pile of talky-writy things about the various bands and musicians who’ll be playing at this year’s Madness on Main Street. And oh, what a pile it is, my friends…

But before we get to that, there’s a cool thing going on tonight, Thurs., May 5th, up at 8th Wonder Brewery in Downtown. It’s the Madness on Main Artist and Media Mixer, and it sounds like a cool time, with bands and musicians and media people and sound people and show-goers all hanging out drinking and chatting and whatnot. I think it’s free, and it seems like it’s open to the public, so go and have fun.

Plus, cool-sounding surf-rock dudes The Phantom Royals will be playing at 7PM (is that Mikey Drag I see in a Zorro mask?), courtesy of the good people at Wonky Power Records and the 8th Wonder gang.

As for the main event, here’re the details: Saturday, May 7th, 29 bands (if I’m counting correctly), at four stages (The Continental Club, The Big Top, The Pachinko Hut, & The Mid-Main Art Garden), for $25 the day of, $15 in advance from your band friends, or $17.50 in advance on them there Interwebz. And yes, it’s well worth it.

With that out of the way, here’s the next round:

colorgravity1Color Gravity
We start off with the ’90s alternarock throwback sound of Color Gravity, and hey, I’m all good with that — I’m still a big fan of a lot of bands from back then, and it always makes me smile to hear some nice grungy guitars. It’s the sound of my youth, y’know?

Color Gravity go one step further than being retro-grunge, though, and pick more broadly from the sounds of the decade, with songs that are firmly in the funky groove-rock vein, other songs that bring to mind Smashing Pumpkins, and others still that kinda-sorta remind me of Tool if I squint a bit. I like, as well, that they incorporate a saxophone into the otherwise-straightforward rock songs; that’s a pretty brave choice to make, and yet it works pretty nicely. Also? Sometimes the sax sounds like bagpipes, which is very strange…but I like it.
[Color Gravity plays at 8:30PM at The Big Top.]


thehoustoncraze1The Houston Craze
Cool as Madness on Main is in general, there’re a small, small number of bands/musicians that I am truly psyched to see. And this? This is one of ’em.

The Houston Craze is a band that began life part of a play at the Alley Theatre called One Man, Two Guvnors. The play called for a skiffle band called “The Craze,” so actor/musician Aaron Echegaray gathered up some fellow musical-type people he happened to know, including Ryan Chavez (who you might know from the Hands Up Houston and Super Unison booking crews, or the criminally underrated Panic In Detroit), Mike Whitebread, and Chris Goodwin. (And Echegaray himself you might recognize as one of the guitarists from Knights of the Fire Kingdom, to boot.)

Anyway, they did the play, the band went over well — I’m assuming, anyway — and the guys decided to make it an actual thing. Which is freaking awesome, because the one song they’ve released so far, a cover of “Twenty Flight Rock,” is excellent, rockabilly-tinged tune that sounds like it slipped through a crack in time. It’s obvious these guys love playing this stuff, and I’ve got ridiculously high hopes for their live performance.
[The Houston Craze plays at 10PM at The Continental Club.]


keetoncoffman1Keeton Coffman
Whoa. Speaking of people I’m psyched to see… I caught Keeton Coffman live at one of these things in 2014 — can’t remember if it was Madness on Main or sister festival Yes, Indeed! — and was absolutely blown away. I’d heard his excellent, excellent Stumble On Love EP at the time and was head over heels for it already, but even then, his live show made my jaw drop.

It wasn’t in any way flashy, just a guy and a guitar sitting on a chair in the back corner of The Big Top, playing and singing, but it was still immensely powerful. I remember being seriously torn, because I wanted desperately to stay and hear every damn song he played, but I had to drag myself away to see somebody at The Continental Club that I’d promised I’d go see.

Coffman’s been hard at work recording a new album since last fall, and going by the early-stage teaser tracks he’s posted on his Bandcamp site, it promises to be pretty damn great. In the meantime, he’s raising funds to produce the album by with his new Cover The Cost EP — it’s five songs, one from each of the last five decades from the ’50s to the ’00s, and while it’s technically free, Coffman’s asking for folks to donate if they can to help out with the expenses. Check it out below, donate some cash, then go see him at MoM this weekend.
[Keeton Coffman plays at 9:45PM at The Pachinko Hut.]


thebrokenspokes1The Broken Spokes
Well, alright, then. I’m not sure why, but I could’ve sworn The Broken Spokes were an indie-rock band, but apparently my addled brain is just extra-super-special confused, because that description couldn’t be much further from the truth. Rather, the Spokes are a quintet of fellas who play thoughtful, traditionally-minded country, the kind that makes you want to take your lady and get out on the dance floor.

Now, if you know me, you’ve probably heard me rant about my general dislike of country music. As with anything like that, though, there’s always exceptions to the rule, and in this case, the rule is less “I hate all country music and want it to die” and more “I hate all crappy, meat-headed pop-country music and want that to die”. I dearly love old-school country; Flatt and Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Hank Williams, those guys, I like. Most of the big hitmakers of the past three decades, not so much.

With that said, The Broken Spokes fall on the non-crappy side of the line, at least for me. They’ve got a nice warmth to their sound and a genuine, heartfelt vibe that makes it clear they’re no dilettantes jumping on the roots-country bandwagon. It helps, too, that their songwriting is smart and well-honed, bringing to mind both Cory Branan and Steve Earle. (Oh, and I love the sight of a country band frontman wearing a Sub Pop t-shirt.)
[The Broken Spokes play at 4:45PM at The Pachinko Hut.]


And now, for something completely different…and yeah, we’re talking completely. Here we take a right turn into the electronic wastelands with Daed, riding head-on into a murky digital future on bikes made of light or something to fight the evil cybernetic overlord that rules all our lives (hey, that sounds like a cool idea for a movie or two, amirite?).

Kidding aside, I really like what this guy’s doing; he seemingly eschews the current EDM trends in favor of more glitchy, breakbeat-heavy stuff, and at his best he comes off like Aphex Twin’s friendlier moments, which is no bad thing. He’s part of the Defunkt collective, which also includes fellow breakbeat-lover {P.L.X.T.X.}, and that makes total sense. I doubt there’s a way to dance to this, mind you, short of having a seizure of some sort, but hey, I’m old. I’d happily stand in the corner, instead, and just bob my head along with the skittering beats, crunched-up synths, and half-buried samples.
[Daed plays at 7:45PM at the Art Garden.]


The Skatastrophics
Ahhhh, yeah. Yeah, I’m seriously a sucker for ska and rocksteady, pretty much every damn time — reggae less so, I’ll admit, mostly because most of it makes me sleepy, but hey, that’s cool. And that goes double for bands where the singer’s got a big, powerful voice; I truly, truly love stuff like The Adjusters and The Slackers.

The Skatastrophics fit the bill quite nicely, too, with a frontman who can really belt it out with some soul, some talented-as-hell horns, and guitars that aren’t content to just sit back and play rhythm the whole damn time but actually switch it up a bit. I dunno much about these guys, but I’m liking what I’ve heard so far.
[The Skatastrophics play at 8:30PM at the Art Garden.]


Dangit, I’d hoped to cram more of these in before it’s time for the mixer, but alas, it’s not to be, so you’re gonna have to just be happy with this for now. More soon…

(Photos [top to bottom]: Color Gravity; The Houston Craze; Keeton Coffman; The Broken Spokes; Daed. The Broken Spokes photo by Edna Sandoval.)

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