Madness on Main, Coming Up Quick (Rundown, Pt. 1): Kelly Doyle Trio + Knights of the Fire Kingdom + AF The Naysayer + Tony Badd + Vodi + Trippy Cholo

13076697_202735846779851_4164124917982412725_nSo…I’ve missed a lot so far this year. 2016, to put it lightly, has been weird, not to mention extremely rapid and tiring and kinda stressful and crappy and neat and oh fuck where did all the days go?

SXSW blew past me, as did SXSW Overflow Fest, as did a whole bunch of shows by awesome people like M83 and CHVRCHES (and maybe some other, non-all-caps bands, as well). I know I’ve let some people down, and that sucks, and I apologize profusely for it. Sometimes life intervenes, and when that happens, things fall by the wayside.

All that said, I’m bound and determined to not let this one fall by the wayside. In part, that’s because the annual Madness on Main Street festival that ambles this coming Saturday, May 7th, onto the stretch of Main between Richmond & Holman is so awesomely fun, but it’s also because the people behind it, principally Jason Smith and Phil “Bassman Pep” Peterson, but also including a bunch of other kind folks, are awesome as hell themselves.

Seriously, if you’ve never been — and I know I’m repeating myself, here — you really, really should. No slight intended to H-town’s bigger, higher-profile festivals, but Madness on Main is the kind of event that makes me love this city, even with the floods and heat and mosquitoes and general crazy.

It’s down-to-earth and low-key, less like a “music festival” than a distributed party with several hundred people you may or may not know roaming in and out. Everybody’s smiling, nobody’s an asshole, there’s no dipshit crowd-surfing on your head, you’re not likely to pass out from heat exhaustion, and the wristbands are cheap enough you don’t have to sell that kidney to get ’em.

MoM is just a chilled-out, relaxed, come-on-by-and-hang-out kind of thing, and it’s freaking great. Even when I don’t recognize most of the people there, it’s a blast to just go and wander, popping in to see Band A for a few songs, then over to a different spot to see Band B for a while, peek into one of the art studios along the way and see what’s up, and hey, maybe stop in at Tacos A-Go-Go when I get hungry.

The whole thing spans four stages on that one stretch of Main Street, with bands & musicians doing their thing at The Continental Club, Shoeshine Charlie’s Big Top, The Pachinko Hut (aka “The Back Deck of the Continental Club”), and new spot the Mid-Main Art Garden, about which I know zero. There’re also art installations and murals, I’m told, plus vendors in different areas.

And hey, wristbands are $25 on the day, $15 if you buy ’em in advance from one of the bands playing, or $17.50 in advance online.

Now, obviously, I wouldn’t be nearly as excited about Madness on Main if it weren’t for, y’know, the actual music. So we’re going to do what we’ve done in the past and randomly jibber-jabber about as many people playing this coming weekend as we can fit in. (If you’re looking for the full lineup and schedule, it’s over here, by the way.)

Here we go:

Kelly Doyle Trio
I have to admit that I keep getting the Kelly Doyle Trio confused with a totally different band, one led by a guy named Kelly Dean, whom my wife actually works with. So every time I see the Kelly Doyle Trio listed somewhere, I excitedly say, “hey, your coworker’s playing soon,” and she sees the actual name, rolls her eyes, and thinks I’m an even bigger idiot than I actually am.

Now, for the bad part: I still don’t have a real solid idea of what the Kelly Doyle Trio sounds like. I know the guy’s been playing guitar around this city for at least a decade now in a variety of outfits, including the excellent Clouseaux and Three Fantastic, but his own music heads off in different directions, from what I’ve heard. But I’m only able to dig up some videos, almost all of which are a few years old. That’s what I’ve got, though, so…

There’s a lot of old-school country in there, for sure, but also little bits of surf music, ragtime, jazz, and noise, plus a healthy dose of the Raymond Scott Orchestra (theme music from classic cartoons, to you rubes out there; I swear, you’d recognize “Powerhouse” if you heard it). It’s bright and clean but strange and whimsical at the same time, complex enough to stay interesting even when there’s no vocals. And yeah, it sounds pretty much tailor-made for playing out in the dusk humidity at the Pachinko Hut stage.
[The Kelly Doyle Trio plays at 6:45PM at the Pachinko Hut.]


knightsofthefirekingdom1Knights of the Fire Kingdom
YESSSSSSSS. It makes me happy beyond words to see badass rawk dudes Knights of the Fire Kingdom; these guys are too damn fun, just straight-up, heavy-but-not-really-“metal”, snarling rock fury that barely pauses to take a breath between songs. Think Scream, Dracula, Scream!-era Rocket From The Crypt (a band at least two of the Knights themselves love) minus the horns, and you’ll kind of have the idea.

Frontman Jeoaf‘s vocals are rough and scratched-up in the best way possible, the guitars are distorted but not too noisy, and the rhythms pound and beat you down to the ground. The songs claw their way into your skull and stay there, camping out on your couch and drinking all the beer out of your fridge, giggling at you when you tell ’em to leave. They’re bluesy and gritty and hard-drinking and surly but never assholes (well, except to one another, apparently; see the video below) and are utterly badass.
[Knights of the Fire Kingdom plays at 7PM at The Continental Club.]

Knights of the Fire Kingdom – Church of the Retarded from Jeoaf Johnson on Vimeo.


afthenaysayer1AF The Naysayer
This one’s a name I’ve heard people talk about for quite a while now but who I’ve never really gotten a chance to see or listen to. Producer/DJ AF The Naysayer‘s not a local — he’s based out of New Orleans — but people whose opinions I trust for stuff like this recommended him, and now I can see why they did. His compositions are natural and jazzy, flowing along with a languid kind of ease that’s like what the Dirty South might sound like if it got cleaned up and ready for a nice night out.

Weirdly, while some of this does make me think of throwback soulful/jazzy hip-hop like Digable Planets or Us3, what I keep coming back to is French producer Dominique Dalcan in his Snooze persona on The Man In The Shadow. There’s a quiet darkness to both Snooze and AF that I like, a vibe that’s mellow but murky at the same time. While Snooze is more on the film-noir side of things, though, AF is more of a quiet-night-at-the-club kind of guy. And yeah, I’m liking it.
[AF The Naysayer plays at 7:15PM at the Art Garden.]


tonybadd1Tony Badd
So. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn’t that. See, I’d read a little bit about Tony Badd, enough to know it’s a collaboration between Joey Flaco and Tony B., both members of the Killem Collective, and from that I figured, “ah, okay — DJ stuff, I guess?”

Nope, nope, nope. Tony Badd isn’t some DJ project, no, but a real-live funk/soul band, and one that does what it does very well. Tony B., it seems, is no DJ; he’s a guitarist and singer who dives deep into the pool of retro-sounding R&B, bringing together the sultry funk of Prince, the easy loverman warmth of Teddy Pendergrass, and the brightness of ’80s-era pop.

On the face of it, this shouldn’t work, at least not for me — I love funk when it’s well-done but hate it when it’s not and comes off fake and cheeseball — but damn, it does work, to the point where I find myself unable to stop listening.
[Tony Badd plays at 6:15PM at the Art Garden.]


And again, here’s another band I can’t find a whole lot about — or by — online. Apparently that’s because Vodi is still working on their debut release, seemingly with the help of Poor Pilate‘s David Lascoe, but it’s a little frustrating.

Especially because the teeny-tiny piece of it I can find — the video below — is damn cool, a thoughtful, seriously intense little sliver of driving, keyboard-heavy rock that brings to mind a moodier, more New Wave-sounding R.E.M. It’s not much, but yeah, it’s good, and it makes me want to hear a heck of a lot more from these mysterious folks. (Seriously, people: “About” pages are useful only when you actually put info on them other than your band’s name and hometown.)

Now, I know these folks are on fairly early, but trust me on this: you really, really should make the effort to get there and catch ’em. I’m definitely planning to.
[Vodi plays at 5:45PM at The Pachinko Hut.]


trippycholo1Trippy Cholo
Okay, I know a little bit more about this one, largely because I’ve run across Gio Chamba, one-quarter of Trippy Cholo, in his other solo, dance-focused incarnation, which has always been pretty intriguing. In fact, listening to Trippy Cholo, I can’t help but think that the band is basically the logical expansion of Chamba’s previous musical efforts.

There’re a whole lot of similarities, music-wise, especially the way both the solo stuff and the band stuff incorporates what sounds to me like a pretty hefty dose of a cumbia sound, or the way both meld electronics with live instrumentation so smoothly you barely notice the edges. I should note, by the by, that my knowledge of cumbia is ridiculously limited; I’m about that farthest you can get from an expert. I do know that I like what I’m hearing, though, and that’s good enough for me.
[Trippy Cholo plays at 4:15PM at the Art Garden.]


Alright, people — that’s what I’ve got for the AM. Unless something implodes/explodes, there’s more to come this afternoon, so check back, eh?

(Photos [top to bottom]: Knights of the Fire Kingdom; AF The Naysayer; Tony Badd; Vodi; Trippy Cholo. AF The Naysayer photo by Chad Whited; Trippy Cholo photo by Marco Torres.)

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