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The Lost Weekend?

Now expanded to two days, the Westheimer Block Party faces its steepest challenge yet.

Attention Houston motorists: If you find yourself in the vicinity of lower Westheimer this weekend,please be careful.

What you are likely to find, besides a traffic snarl of rush-hour proportions, is a parade of hippies, hipsters, indie-rockers, acid casualties, crusty-punks, street artists, trustafarians, walking tattoos, homeless people, people who only look like they're homeless and probably at least one guy in a diaper.

That's right, it's Westheimer Block Party time again.

Buoyed by the success of SummerFest this past August, Free Press Houston editor/publisher and Block Party honcho Omar Afra has expanded the semiannual event to Saturday and Sunday, allowing more than 200 mostly local and a few Austin acts to perform. It's all free, save the Saturday-evening show at Numbers headlined by New York agit-rappers Dead Prez, Jersey garage-punks Japanther and Austin shoegaze folkies the Eastern Sea.

Frankly, to Noise, this weekend sounds like a recipe for chaos, of both the good and not-so-good varieties. As entertaining and colorful as the street scene always is at the Block Party, those sidewalks along Westheimer are awfully narrow, and Houston drivers aren't exactly known for their courtesy toward either pedestrians or biyclists — who, in turn, aren't exactly known for always watching where they're going.

Although closing down Westheimer would be the safest option, there's little chance of that ever happening because there's no feasible detour route to divert traffic anywhere close by. Afra has tried pleading his case to the city time and again on that count, to no avail.

However, Afra says he has convinced the city to make the Block Party at least a little more pedestrian-friendly by closing down Taft Street for a few blocks north and south of Westheimer. Beyond that, he asks, do everyone a favor and just ride your bicycle.

"You avoid running into the cops, if you get drunk you avoid hurting anybody else, and there's tons of places to tie your bike up," Afra says. "Bikes are ideal for the Block Party. If you drive, there's no telling how far you'll have to go to park."

Block Party's unpredictability is a considerable part of its charm. Every time it happens, you can pretty much count on running into people you never thought you'd see (but secretly did somewhere in the back of your mind), as well as seeing performances by people you've never heard of before that will both send you screaming from the venue/parking lot and running up to the stage when they're done to buy a CD or T-shirt.

Ever since Afra and the Free Press crew reinstituted the Block Party in October 2005, they've managed to pull it off come the hell of sound problems, scheduling backups and noise complaints or just high water. It is a rain-or-shine event, somewhat — Afra says all the indoor shows will take place regardless, and that performers who get rained off the outdoor stages will be moved inside "wherever we have space."

Noise hopes this coming weekend is no different. Houston needs the Block Party — there's still no better way for anyone to get a sampling of what an amazingly diverse, plentiful and idiosyncratic music scene we have here. Expanding it to two days means, of course, that partygoers will be able to sample twice as much talent.

It also means that there's twice as much time for something to go awry. Noise has his doubts about whether or not this weekend will go off without a hitch, but as far as that goes, there's really only one way to find out. See you on the street.
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STAGE GUIDE

Subject to change. Recommended artists in bold.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14

KTRU/FPH Main Stage

Numbers, 300 Westheimer (parking lot)

12 p.m.: Generation Landslide

12:50 p.m.: Caddywhompus

1:40 p.m.: Robert Ellis

2:30 p.m.: Marzi

3:20 p.m.: Hollywood FLOSS

4:10 p.m.: Defend the Ghetto

5 p.m.: Young Mammals

5:50 p.m.: Roky Moon & BOLT

6:40 p.m.: Buxton

7:25 p.m.: Golden Axe

Numbers Inside

300 Westheimer

12 p.m.: The Live Lights

12:50 p.m.: 10th Grade Cutie

1:40 p.m.: Fucking Thief

2:30 p.m.: Legendary K-Otix

3:20 p.m.: T.H.E.M.

4:10 p.m.: Guerilla Foco Clan

8:30 p.m. (cover required): Dead Prez, Japanther, Eastern Sea, Black Congress (upstairs), DJ Melodic

Funwunce Stage

Mango's, 403 Westheimer

12:30 p.m.: The Wrong Ones

1:15 p.m.: Skurge

2 p.m.: Battle Rifle

2:45 p.m.: Ghost Town Electric

3:30 p.m.: DISSENT

4:15 p.m.: Leg Sweeper

5 p.m.: Muhammid Ali

5:45 p.m.: The Energy

6:30 p.m.: Born Liars

7:15 p.m.: PLF

8 p.m.: Chocolate Crucifix

9 p.m.: In Beds

10 p.m.: Satannabis

11 p.m.: Corners

12 a.m.: DJ Meshak

SHFL Stage

Mango's, 403 Westheimer (parking lot)

12 p.m.: The Handshake

1 p.m.: Behind Buildings

2 p.m.: Searching for Signal

3 p.m.: Components of the Modern Age

4 p.m.: Gamma Ringo

5 p.m.: HRStrut

5:50 p.m.: Wighead

6: 20 p.m.: Delta Block

7 p.m.: Rusted Shut

8:30 p.m.: Organ Failure

9:15 p.m.: Dustin Wes

Music Heals Stage

Austin Layne Hotel, 408 Westheimer

12 p.m.: Chin Xao Ti Twon

12:50 p.m.: Tony Bananas

1:40 p.m.: Make Your Own Escape

2:30 p.m.: Dead Roses

3:20 p.m.: Pistoleras

4:10 p.m.: Alkari

5 p.m.: O'Doyle Rules

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