In case you haven't heard, electro and synth-pop are back. Not only has the resurgence created a whole new generation of '80s-style wannabe Human Leaguers and Duranies, but there's renewed interest in the stars of that decade. B!Machine, who has been active in the San Francisco synth-pop scene since 1988, is quite happy to take us back to the days of Reaganomics and overly moussed hair. Ominous, a local DJ who runs the synth-pop site www.newwaveradio.net, is bringing the performer to town this week. "The first time I heard B!Machine, back in '98, I was like, 'Whoa, where has this music been?' " he says. Fans can expect B!Machine's signature dreamy vocals and grooving keyboards.
"I don't really think about the style," says Nate Nicoll, a.k.a. B!Machine. But he admits that "the relevance of melody, emotion and passion has been largely lacking from music for a decade or so." He should know. At the tender age of 17, he provided the beats to Subverted Orpheus with vocalist Chris Tallant. After some name and roster changes, he settled with the moniker B!Machine in 1996, from an old song of his called "Beautiful Machine."
Joining B!Machine is Houston-based Voidmate, along with Ominous and DJ Jon B. With vocoder-treated vocals, Voidmate's sound is reminiscent of Fischerspooner or Schneider TM. The gig promises to be a dream date night for synth-pop fans, whether they fondly remember the '80s -- or were just born during them. 9 p.m. Friday, July 22. 1415 Bar & Grille, 1415 California. For tickets, call 713-522-7066 or visit www.newwaveradio.net. $10. -- Travis Ritter
The Front Porch Pub's Texas Tea
The humid summer heat is getting to me when my firefighter friend Kent meets me at the Front Porch Pub(217 Gray, 713-571-9571). The beer is flowing from bottles, buckets, pints and pitchers, but I order a Texas tea, thinking it will quench my thirst better than a hop soda. Kent heads to the back to find our group. I take a look around. Inside and out, the bar is filled with Midtown's urban professionals. The servers, who are dressed like strippers straight out of 1984, are great for eye candy but not so great for replenishing cocktails. For some reason, they make me want to hear "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth." Luckily, the jukebox downloads music via satellite. I feed it my money before joining the group in back, where I watch as one of the firemen takes pictures of my sister-in-law's cleavage with a camera phone.
Estás Aquí Ahora, the title of the new CD by eclectic Louisiana rockers-en-español Palo Viejo, translates as You Are Here Now. Described most succinctly as "ska-rengue," the band will bring the Hispanic skank to Fitzgerald's on Saturday, sharing a bill with Del Castillo and Los Super Vatos. Palo Viejo's skilled, grooving musicianship, coupled with the sultry, melodic vocals of Angelina de los Rosarios Lopez, makes the band's sound highly accessible, conjuring a female-fronted Police or, perhaps, a Latino answer to Gwen. 9 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive. For tickets, call 713-862-3838 or visit www.fitzlive.com. $8 to $10. -- Scott Faingold
For many, Jamaican music begins and ends with Bob Marley's Legend. Please, mon. What about dancehall, ska and rock steady? Promoter Eric Edwards hopes to showcase all these genres with his Summer Bash party. "I want to give people a window to Jamaica and what the dancehall and DJ scene is like there," he says. Vinyl spinners will include Renaissance Disco (from Jamaica) and the Mikey Faith Crew (from Houston). Also setting the mood in the house will be dancer Boisey and party scenesters the Prada Girls, who Edwards says "are sort of like the Hilton sisters." (And no, they won't make a home sex tape with you.) Doors open at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Reception Hall, 10880 Bissonnet. For tickets, call 832-651-7519. $10. -- Bob Ruggiero