Saturday, November 27, 2010

Zefirina Bomba melts faces

I'm going to share some interesting punk music with you courtesy of a reader who contacted me from Brazil. His band is called Zefirina Bomba and was started in the quiet town of Joao Pessoa. Ilsom said that the tranquility of the town inspired the band's sharply contrasting, loud and subversive sound.

The band currently has two albums released and has secured a spot at SXSW in March. You can listen to some of their stuff here. I really, really, like it. It's loud and noisy but thoughtful at the same time. The best part about their sound besides powerful vocals is their delightuly erratic guitar playing. I also have to add that for punk, it's pretty experimental. I'm sure they're a blast live. If all goes well, I'll see them play here in a few months.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Wall tears it down at Toyota Center

Haven't been on here in a while and I really regret that. I tried to post some stuff last week but school dropped more and more shit into my lap and prevented me from posting.

Last weekend, Roger Waters performed the whole Wall at the Toyota Center here in Houston and it was fantastic. The only thing that would have made it better is if Rick Right was alive and Nick Mason and David Gilmour weren't "back at the hotel", but the show still managed to be better than I ever anticipated. Besides Waters there was at least one other major Floyd veteran on stage, Snowy White. While white was never a band member, he did tour with Pink Floyd on the original wall tour and also contributed some playing for the European version of Animals.

The content of the show was similar to the original wall but was updated for maximum relevance. Waters collected pictures from fans of people killed in combat and maintained the same anti-war message with out any sort of hippie naivety. Waters has always been a critic of anarch0-capitalism and used to be an outright socialist but during the show he also mocked the role of overbearing government. In the song "Mother" he displayed an ominous red and black animation of a security camera while belting out "of course momma's gonna help build the wall".

Just like the original show, the concert revolved around the building of a literal wall on stage and mind-blowing visuals. One of the most amazing special effects took place after the second song "the thin ice" as a large model plane smashed into the wall and exploded into a giant fireball. An extended cut of the "empty spaces" animation was played and it looked amazing on the huge, circular, screen.

The message of the show was more universal this time too. Using visuals, Waters criticized war, interventionism, over-consumption, radical Islam, and material greed, especially during "goodbye blue sky".

Overall Water's voice held up incredibly well and his band did a good job reinterpreting the music. It's too late for Houston but if by some stroke of good luck, he finds the time to come back again, please go see him. You will thank me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dead Audio Fest & Local Noise 2010

Houston often gets credit from music critics and the media for its past contributions to the blues with artists like Sam Lightnin' Hopkins or for the pioneering of chopped and screwed beats with DJ screw or providing an incubator for country and folk with famous residents like Townes Van Zandt. However, progress in less mainstream genres like noise rock, outsider music, and experimental efforts is rarely mentioned which is tragic considering the city's rich but underexposed culture of underground music.

Houston's tradition of “out-there” music started, detectably, in 1966 with a group of art students from the University of St. Thomas, headed by Mayo Thompson, who founded the avante-garde outfit The Red Krayola which was avante-garde way before the genre was profitable or accepted. Just to give readers an example of how “out-there” the band has been in the past, Pitchfork music critic Alex Lindhardt reported that early on in their career the band was paid ten dollars by Berkley to stop their performance. They've gone through many phases and are still active today. Readers can even find their music on CD at Cactus.

Ever since then, there has always been an abundance of new underground bands and musicians in Houston; none very commercially successful but all influential in their own rite. In the 70's Houston saw the activity of players like outsider musician Jandek (which is the genre most musicologists put the delightfully weird Daniel Johnston into). In the 80s and 90s Houston was home to the brilliantly cacophonous noise bands like Pain Teens. Building on the past, the 2000s have been an even more prolific time for the city's complex and rapidly evolving experimental scene seeing the advent of bands like Indian Jewelry, Female Demand, Cop Warmth, A Pink Cloud, and many more.

In the spirit of Houston's colorful experimental and noise music heritage, Super Happy Fun Land will be throwing Dead Audio Fest 2010 on Nov. 12. starting at 2:00 p.m and raging till until 11:30. The bill will include bands from all over the world, such as Skönhet from Sweden, and many from Texas. Some acts will be melodic and others will not be, some are loud while others are more quiet yet they all share one thing in common: if you're looking to hear something like Nickleback or other mainstream crapola they will probably scare you far far away.

To get the most out of the show attendees should come with open minds and a pair of good earplugs. Come out and support Houston's and the world's experimental scenes by showing up at Dead Audio Fest 2010. Whether you love experimental music or hate it, Dead Audio Fest should do a pretty good job blowing your mind.

Go here for a full list of bands.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Agora Coffee bites the dust

Agora Coffee off of Westheimer was one of my favorite places to go and drink coffee and write, especially for this blog. It was quiet and hip but not so hip that I felt like I was in an American Apparel ad which sometimes happens at joints off Westheimer populated by all the young dudes, as Bowie would say. They had a great selection of foreign and domestic beers and wines and a well-developed jukebox. However, at 12:30 AM on Halloween morning, a blaze consumed both Agora and the swanky little Antique Warehaus nextdoor.

It's hard to express how upset I am about the fire since I know everyone who wants to appear hip and happening is going to be loudly and publicly lamenting Agora's loss. I'm not trying to be one of the asshats who strives to appear more authentic than everyone else but I really felt a personal connection with that place. Everytime I'd go I'd spend literally hours there and not have a single thing to complain about as I blogged or worked. If you guys have any memories you'd like to share please, post to the comment section on the blog or the facebook page. I'm trying to collect a body of stories I can re-publish as an homage to Agora and all the great times I know people in the Montrose community have had there.