2011 Music Awards Showcase

Your guide to the bands and venues.

Frankie G Da Mex (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Latin
Frankie G Da Mex is a rapper out of Fifth Ward-adjacent Denver Harbor, where he grew up with gangs, drugs and violence, and it all shows up in his lyrics, which are primarily set to Southern beats. He has some interesting production flourishes, such as the creepy yet mesmerizing voice and acoustic guitar reciting the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" before a neat segue into his rap, "Deep." His current release is DaMex Tape. Don't expect political correctness. William Michael Smith

Something Fierce (7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best LP/CD/EP (Don't Be So Cruel), Best Song ("Future Punks"), Best Punk / Garage
Amongst all your Robert Ellises, Fat Tonys, Buns and Slims, Houston trio Something Fierce often get overlooked for all the vast praise they have gotten nationally for their brand of hepped-up garage-punk. This year the band released Don't Be So Cruel on influential label Dirtnap Records, went on a national tour and just got added to SXSW's 2012 festivities. The infectious "Future Punks" from Cruel is nominated for Best Song this year as well. Craig Hlavaty

Sideshow Tramps (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Americana, Best Miscellaneous Instrument (Geoffrey Mueller, saw), Best LP/CD/EP (Revelator), Best Song ("John the Revelator")
Possessed by demonic angels that would be equally at home in oystershell Montrose back alleys and hickory smoke-redolent old weird American barnyards, Sideshow Tramps shows are equal parts hambone hoedowns and apocalyptic breakdowns. Country, bluegrass, punk, blues, soul, Gypsy swing and gospel are all trampled under the feet of these young neo-traditionalist Catholic school grads. At a Tramps show, the wall between band and audience is utterly abolished. The band's long early-and-mid-2000s run of shows at Helios has become the stuff of Houston music legend now, and on new album Revelator, they sound like nothing less than the beginning and the end of American music. And that's a good thing. John Nova Lomax

801 St. Emanuel

H.I.S.D (4 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Rap Group
Contemporary rap mostly falls in one of two categories: granite hard or gooey soft. Hueston Independent Spit District has found that sweet, supple spot in the middle. Untrammeled by convention, the rapidly ascending alt-rap crew moves independent of the currents of modern hip-hop. Their playful poetry recalls De La Soul; their woozy loops and bass drops bear traces of Pete Rock. After three albums, H.I.S.D. has now evolved into one of Houston's deadliest groups. The rhymes are clever, of course, fresh and gnomic and just fancy enough. Their energy is in the music, too, with light, lighthearted beats that make it plausible to drop down and do the wop. And it don't stop. Rizoh

Monica Matocha (5 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Female Vocals, Best Pop Artist
If you have children and a Sirius/XM subscription, chances are you've heard Monica's former band, #1 Crush, on Radio Disney. Now a solo artist, this Woodlands native seems less bent on crafting an artificial persona (à la other House of Mouse alumnae Britney and Miley) than on building cred as a singer-songwriter. Her debut single "Impostor" is now available on iTunes, and a solo album is on the way. Check her out at the showcase and you might be able to say you knew her way back when. Pete Vonder Haar

The Manichean (6 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Indie / Alternative
The Manichean is unsettling, and not for the same reasons that, say, an expired gas station tuna salad sandwich is unsettling. The Manichean is unsettling because the band makes you think, from its manic live shows featuring lead singer Cory Sinclair going into the audience in a trance, to the challenging, unnerving music that comes forth from this Montrose-based crew. Craig Hlavaty

The Mighty Orq (7 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Blues, Best Guitarist
One of Orq's better tunes is called "The Sweet In-Between," and that's a great description for his wheelhouse. He's neither rocker nor bluesman, but he's beyond adept at fusing the two, harnessing the steadfast emotion of the blues to rock's flights of fancy. A deep-voiced singer with a flavorsome guitar style, Orq can shift between power-trio rock band mode and a National Steel solo acoustic setting with a graceful aplomb rare in performers decades more seasoned. He's also a genius with a cover; you won't forget his seamless blend of "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" and Prince's "Kiss." There ain't no particular style he's more compatible with. Orq just wants your extra time and your...kiss. John Nova Lomax

Otenki (8 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best LP/CD/EP (Kinetic), Best Song ("Ghosts"), Best Male Vocals (German Hernandez), Best Rock, Best Guitarist (Fausto Padilla), Best Drummer (Chris Kelly), Best Bassist (Josh Tenorio), Best Keyboardist (Colton Majors)
Take a dash of pop, a hint of rock and roll, cook it on high and sprinkle a little alternative on top, and you'll have the closest recipe to that of Otenki, a Houston six-piece that has been playing shows and acquiring the ears of fans for the better part of a decade now. The band mixes in-your-face instrumentation with high-end vocal lines that smooth out the sound; band manager and guitarist Enoma Asowata believes the resulting accessibility is one of Otenki's greatest strengths. No matter your musical taste, Asowata is sure that he and his band have a song you can connect with. Otenki also takes relationships with fans seriously and, with the help of social media, they do a lot to let them know the band is there for them. "It's really humbling to get tweets and e-mails from kids in places like the Dominican Republic saying that they're starting a fan club for us," Asowata says. "I hope we're around for a while so they can get more music from us, and we can enjoy them a little longer." Matthew Keever

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