Yes, Indeed! 2016 Rundown, Pt. 1: JVS Reel + Nicole Starch & Torpedoed Heart + Whit + A Tribute to the Sun + Ringo Deathstarr + All People + dUNETX + Jon Black

14231245_1098517916894465_827010880169346936_o[UPDATED 9/16/16: The Yes, Indeed! organizers have released the actual set times, so I’ve added them to the listings below. Be warned, of course, that things do change…]

[UPDATED 9/15/16: Whoops! One relatively minor change to the below, folks; it appears that the Yes, Indeed! organizers weren’t able to use Lucky’s Pub for one of their stages after all, but are instead having their fourth stage at a place called Ahh, Coffee! (which kind of fits, what with the exclamation point & all). I’m told it’s right around the corner, at 2018 Rusk, so there you go…]

Yes, friends, neighbors, Houstonianites, it’s just about time again for the “other” half of the bi-annual music festival extravaganza that’s known either as the Yes, Indeed! Music Festival or Madness on Main Street, both put on by super-organized people Jason Smith and Phil “Bassman Pep” Peterson. Both are an utter blast, just fun, chilled-out, listen-to-music-and-hang parties, and if you haven’t been to one or either yet, well, you’re only depriving yourself, aren’t you?

Of course, it being the fall, it’s Yes, Indeed! 2016 coming up this very weekend, Saturday, September 17th. And yes, it definitely promises to be a good time, although there’s a fairly major change this time around — this year’s Yes, Indeed! has moved out of its old stomping grounds over in the Mid-Main area, heading northeastwards to the area around Warehouse Live, on the eastern fringe of Downtown (and no, I refuse to use “EaDo” as a term, because it’s just goofy).

There’ll be four stages this coming Saturday, spread out across three venues: the aforementioned Warehouse Live (both the Studio and Green Room stages), Ahh, Coffee!Lucky’s Pub, and Neil’s Bahr. I’m actually kinda psyched to check out the latter, bands or no bands, because I’ve heard from friends who hang out in bars way more than I do that it’s a seriously cool, laidback, geek-friendly kind of place (if you couldn’t guess from the physics-nerd name).

Naturally, there’s a whole slew of excellent bands/musicians playing (25, in total), starting at 4PM, and a measly $20 gets you a wristband that’ll let you see ’em all.

There’re several names on the list that are old friends, and several bands I’ve been meaning to see live for a while now, but there’s also some names I’m not all that familiar with, which is cool as hell by me. One of the best things about Yes, Indeeds!/Madness on Mains past has been stumbling across music-makers I’d never actually heard before, without the same level of go-go-go, run-from-one-stage-to-the-next pressure as at a “big” festival.

Speaking of other festivals, by the way, it appears that the Yes, Indeed! guys have taken a page from the FPSF/Day for Night playbook (among others, yes, but those are the local fests), bringing in art as well as music.

This year there’s an official “Festival Artist,” which is seriously neat to see. His name’s Alex Ramos, and while I’ve heard of him previously, I can’t claim to know much about his work. I’m also not sure what a “Festival Artist” actually does for the festival, but hey, it sounds interesting either way.

Now, with alllllll of that done, let’s get to the actual pile of randomly-selected bands, amirite? Here we go:

jvsreel1JVS Reel
We’re kicking this thing off with a band I’ve seen in show listings before, but which I haven’t ever heard or seen ’til now. Okay, I say “band,” but JVS Reel is actually one guy, Jay Victor Sauseda (hence the “JVS”), playing as a one-man-band with guitar, vocals, and a lone kick-drum (with a tambourine sitting on top of it, which is a nice touch). It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but y’know, I’m really enjoying it in all its stripped-down, barebones glory.

Sonically, it comes off like a looser Black Keys, or maybe a more growly early White Stripes, and neither of those things are bad, not at all. Sausedo stomps along, playing gritty, down-home blues licks as he howls and moans about women, pain, women, liars, love, and, um, women. There’s plenty of feedback, plenty of grime layered on those guitar strings, and a nice, nice rough edge to the guy’s voice. I’m getting addicted really damn quickly, y’all.
[JVS Reel plays at 6:45PM at the Heights Guitar Tech Stage (Ahh, Coffee!).]


 

nicolestarch1Nicole Starch and Torpedoed Heart
And then, on the other hand, there’s Nicole Starch and Torpedoed Heart, who I’d honestly never heard of at all before I saw ’em on the Yes, Indeed! lineup. (Sorry, I’ve been a bit out of touch lately.) I’m liking the name, to start with — “Torpedoed Heart” is really damn evocative — and then, as soon as Starch starts singing, well…

To put it plainly, she’s got a great voice, pretty without being cloying and with just enough huskiness to make it really step out and grab hold. I keep thinking of Ingrid Michaelson, although not in terms of the one song I’ve been able to hear so far, “Take A Chance,” because it’s not at all in the same musical vein as Michaelson’s stuff (as far as I’ve heard, anyway); the voice, though, does some very similar things as the subtle acoustic guitar, understated drums stroll along. The wind blowing through the tall grass in the background is a nice touch, too. Make sure to check these folks out, seriously.
[Nicole Starch and Torpedoed Heart play at 4:45PM at the Heights Guitar Tech Stage (Ahh, Coffee!).]


 

whit1Whit
And here we are with a second band I didn’t know a damn thing about before I started this. Did you realize Bob Lane from Another Run (he’s the guy with The Mustache) was in another band? I sure as hell didn’t.

That’s not to say, mind you, that Whit sounds anything like Another Run, because, um, no, it really, really doesn’t. Rather, this quartet, fronted by singer Madison Whitaker, travels down a stranger, more ethereal path, albeit one that’s still got some intriguingly complex rhythms. Take Florence Jenkins’ voice and lay it carefully atop a thick, thick layer of proggy, jazzy pop, and you’ll kind of get the idea. Weirdly, I keep thinking of fellow Houstonians The Tontons when I hear this, although there’s less soul and more trippy psych going on here.

Now, I will say that this isn’t going to be for everybody; it’s definitely a little different, and sometimes a little bit scattered, but in the end, it works for me, at least. You’ll have to hear for yourself.
[Whit plays at 8:15PM at the Lynchpin Audio Stage (Warehouse Live Green Room).]


 

atributetothesun1A Tribute to the Sun
With a name like A Tribute to the Sun, you could be forgiven for figuring these guys were either prog-rock or jam-rock and not giving it too much more thought. The Katy duo, though (guitarist/singer Juan Magana and bassist/backing singer Andy Flores; no clue who plays the drums), while they do have little bits of both of the above floating around in there, the bulk of it is actually pretty garage-y pop.

There’s a retro, almost classic rock-ish feel to a lot of it, leavened by a funky side that bleeds through occasionally; there’s some Deep Purple in there, and some Animals, and some Doors, but also some Prince, maybe, or maybe even some Red Hot Chili Peppers (mid-’90s vintage RHCP, mind you, not post-2000 RHCP, thank God). It’s an interesting listen, to be sure, and one I’ll definitely be coming back to.
[A Tribute to the Sun plays at 7PM at the 8th Wonder Stage (Warehouse Live Studio).]


 

ringodeathstarr1Ringo Deathstarr
The headliners of Yes, Indeed! 2016, and a damned cool one to see up there at the top of the list, I’ve got to say. I last saw these guys something like eight years ago, at a free Thursday-night show up at Numbers, and not knowing a thing about them at the time, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite their youth, they were a hell of a lot of fun.

Fast-forward to now, and here we are again, with both me and those crazy RDS kids older, hopefully wiser, all that stuff. Listening to recent album Pure Mood, I remembered how I’d had the band pegged as a dream-pop revival band (and yeah, I was totally good with that); nowadays, though, there’s a darker, murkier, more post-punk sound to the band, making me think less of My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive and more of Sonic Youth (see “California Car Collection,” in particular — that one song takes me back to college all over again). Plus, guitarist/vocalist Alex Gehring‘s voice brings to mind Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon, which is a cool little touch, especially on “Guilt”.

Looking from the outside, it’s truly hard to peg this band down as all one thing or all another — they’re swirling and dark and rocking and hazy and raw and heavy and melodic and lush, all at the same damn time, and it’s pretty freaking great.
[Ringo Deathstarr plays at 12AM at the 8th Wonder Stage (Warehouse Live Studio).]


 

allpeople1All People
Okay, so this may be my favorite of the Yes, Indeed! 2016 bands I’ve heard so far, and that’s no small thing. All People aren’t locals, but instead hail from New Orleans, and they point backwards awesomely at mid-/late-’90s indie-rock, to the point where I had a bizarre flash of my own band back in that era. There’s some Pavement, some Archers of Loaf, some Sebadoh, and some Milemarker(!), all of which I’m totally down with.

Beyond that, though, there’s also an ’80s synth-pop influence, especially with the keyboards, and an interesting resemblance to The Smiths in the overall dark, melancholy vibe and the baritone(?) vocals. I know that may sound like it shouldn’t work — and yeah, there’re some parts where it’s a little jarring — but for the most part, it totally freaking does.
[All People plays at 7:30PM at the Frank’s Pizza Stage (Neil’s Bahr).]


 

dunetx1dUNETX
I wasn’t actually sure if longtime H-town rock band dUNETX was actually going to be playing Yes, Indeed! this year — they weren’t on at least one list I’ve seen — but then yesterday I saw the official word from the band themselves, so here we are. And that’s a very, very good thing, because I seriously want these guys to keep playing until the end of time.

Now, for a little bit of brutal honesty: there was a long, long period where I just couldn’t get into this band. I liked them, sure, and they’re good, good dudes, an integral part of the scene here, but it just wasn’t my thing. Over the years, though, they’ve seriously grown on me, in large part due to the prodding of YI! organizer (and SCR writer) Jason Smith. They’re fun and bright and shiny and fuzzy and cheery, like one giant vat of retro-fied power-pop all melted down and forged into a massively dense, sugary-sweet, overwhelming lollipop of pop-rock goodness. Listening to these guys brings me back to the Good Old Days of H-town Music, when it seemed preordained that bands like The Jinkies and 30footFALL would one day rule the world (if only, dammit).
[dUNETX plays at 8:45PM at the Heights Guitar Tech Stage (Ahh, Coffee!).]


 

jonblack1Jon Black
I’ve got a nephew who lives in London; he’s a good kid, but like all teenagers, he doesn’t so much like to talk to the grownups, especially not his grandmother, who can be a bit on the heavy-handed side. So the last time he came to visit, a few years ago, I dragged him out of the house and up to Fitzgerald’s one evening to see some Houston hip-hop. He was bemused by B L A C K I E, obviously, because y’know, that’s who he is, but it seemed like it was opening rapper Jon Black who made the biggest impact on him.

Which, yeah, was exactly what I’d figured would happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love B L A C K I E, but San Diego transplant Black has been one of the best damn rappers going in this city for several years now, with an awesomely speedy delivery, a classic, old-school style, and a real-live backing band (at least for some of his shows; I’ve got my fingers crossed they’ll be along for the ride this weekend). Listening to what I’ve been able to check out so far of new album Lightwork, I’m strongly reminded of Blackalicious’s classic Nia, albeit with an even more laid-back, quasi-Southern feel. It’s Houston hip-hop that’s not standard Houston hip-hop, that’s what I’m saying, and that’s a good thing.
[Jon Black plays at 7:15PM at the Lynchpin Audio Stage (Warehouse Live Green Room).]


 

That’s it for now, folks; more to come real soon, so check back…

(Photos: All People photo by Oscar Moreno.)


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