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Long, Hot Sunday

The Sabbath simmers with sizzling sets, squealing tires and ersatz Stone Cold Steve Austins

Racket's goal at this year's Houston Press Music Awards Showcase was to see things he hadn't seen before. He even wrote out an hour-by-hour, venue-by-venue plan of attack. Of course, the battle plan held for only about two hours, but Racket still ran into plenty of surprises.

First up at 4 p.m., Grupo Kalor and Lisa y Aventura filled a Tejano double bill at Spy. Kalor, who performed inside, is the slightly less traditional of the two. Their sound is tinged with reggae, their electric guitarist brings a heavy rock influence to the mix, and vocalist Kristen G. (still a student at Pasadena High School) sings with flair.

Outside, a very short-skirted Lisa Torres led Aventura through a long set that was as hot as the weather. She took one look at all the Anglos in the audience and began to lecture us on the various Mexican and Tejano subgenres they were playing, from norteño to huapango to cumbia. The guitarless lineup gave the talented young bajo sexto player room to roam, especially on the set closer, the Surfaris' "Wipe Out."

Had we known of the feud between these two bands, we would have scheduled them across downtown from each other. Alas, we didn't, and when a tired Torres finished her set and went into Spy for a glass of ice water, a female Grupo Kalor fan started hurling threats and insults at her in front of about ten onlookers. Torres brushed off the verbal abuse and left the bar. She was in her car (which happened to be parked next to Kristen's) attempting to make peace with some Kalor members when the mother of that group's singer ran up to her and said, "If you want to talk shit about me, say it to my face, girl!" Minutes later, according to Torres, the mother told her to "Fuck off, bitch!"

Torres abandoned her peace mission and pulled out of the parking lot, but the outraged mother followed on foot and banged on the car windows all the way down the street to a red light. Torres ran the light, but her troubles weren't over. Her pursuer jumped into a friend's car, and there followed a nine-block car chase through downtown Houston. Torres finally escaped, and she says she is filing charges. "I mean, I was driving the wrong way down one-ways, running red lights," she says. "There were six people in the car, including a child. I was terrified."

Kalor manager John Valera is the brother of Kristen's mother, close friends with Torres's manager "Jumpin' Jess" Rodriguez, and a 12-year-veteran of the Houston Police Department. He didn't see the fracas, but he's understandably embarrassed by it. He says that the bad blood between Kalor and Torres has been brewing for so long now that nobody can really remember what started the feud in the first place. Nevertheless, he's making no excuses for the behavior of the fan or his sister. "What they did was inexcusable," he told Racket. "I personally called Lisa to apologize."

Still, Torres says that she won't be playing near Kalor anytime soon. "I always seem to have some trouble when they're around," she said.

Meanwhile, Racket was obliviously sweltering away at Spy's alfresco stage, taking in jazzy, funky rap-rockers Simpleton -- Houston's answer to the Fun Lovin' Criminals -- live for the first time. It was not the best of circumstances to see any band for the first time. The heat index on stage probably topped 110 degrees, and the show never quite flew as high as either of the group's two excellent CDs. Riotous Simpleton front man B.C. was wilting after 25 minutes, but the band willed itself through another two songs, with B.C. telling guitar player Jon Black to ride his riffs for all they were worth so they would last longer. Between songs -- most of which came off their soon-to-be-released sophomore disc, Baby You're a Star -- he also gave the Press a little crap for Simpleton's inclusion in the funk/R&B category. But where else do they fit? They're too rap for rock, and too rock for rap, and too jazzy and skilled for metal, where raw distant cousins like Faceplant reign. Like bluesy genre-melters Jug o' Lightnin', Simpleton is too original and sophisticated to fit neatly into any category, though they would be the best in several. This band has a better chance of breaking big nationally than any other group in town, so check 'em out now. Otherwise, the next time you see them might be on Cribs.

After Simpleton's set, Racket's battle plan went to hell. Instead of hiking over to Arthur Yoria's set at BAR Houston, he ate a plate of fajitas and hung out with Cactus Records general manager Quinn Bishop and the Houston Musicians Benevolent Society's Steve Sucher. Jiggernaut was downstairs playing what sounded from afar to have been a blistering set, but it was followed by a dreary gig by the Swishahouse All-Stars. These guys took the stage ten minutes early and announced they were done at 7 p.m., which was the time their show was supposed to start. D.R.U.M. was setting up to take over the slot when the All-Stars finally took the stage again for another short set.

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