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Grass Roots

Phil Peterson and Jason Smith look to expand Yes Indeed into more than a microfestival.

Only in Houston

Phil Peterson has his ear to the ground better than most people. The local booking agent and promoter, who routes shows through Notsuoh and AvantGarden through his AR*V Productions, deals with many of Houston's newer and more experimental acts, as well as his share of those it's difficult to imagine ever playing venues much bigger.

That's not to say many of these artists don't deserve the exposure, of course, just that exposure can be a little hard to come by that far down in a scene's grass roots. But this Saturday, Peterson and partner Jason Smith will supervise their second Yes Indeed festival, welcoming 30 mostly Houston-based performers in a host of genres to Last Concert Cafe, Houston House of Creeps and the Doctor's Office.

Quiet Company at Warehouse Live in September 2012
Jody Perry
Quiet Company at Warehouse Live in September 2012
A panel from Alice Cooper and Neil Gaiman's 1994 collaboration, The Last Temptation, drawn by artist Michael Zulli.
A panel from Alice Cooper and Neil Gaiman's 1994 collaboration, The Last Temptation, drawn by artist Michael Zulli.

Peterson and Smith, bassist and vocalist in local indie-rockers Alkari, effectively pooled their contacts to assemble Yes Indeed's lineup. Familiar local names playing Yes Indeed 2013 include Electric Attitude, the Beans, Knights of the Fire Kingdom, Alkari (surprise), the Dead Revolt, Jealous Creatures, PersephOne, FLCON FCKER and Shotgun Funeral. Meanwhile, out-of-towners like Austin's Quiet Company and the Murdocks, Beaumont's Purple and New Orleans's Naughty Professor expand Yes Indeed's scope by making it a regional event.

The two principals staged the first Yes Indeed last year at Dean's and Notsuoh, after working on previous events such as Minkfest and Spring Forward at Jet Lounge and the Engine Room. But with Dean's closed for renovations after being sold (it will supposedly reopen soon as another club), Peterson and Smith decided to see what else was available. The suddenly hot "Warehouse District" just northeast of downtown seemed like a natural fit.

"I think it's brilliant," Peterson says of the area. "It's inexpensive places and an optimal situation. There's rooms there, there's equipment there. Someone might be living in one house and go record in another house, just for kicks. Then they might go to I guess it's 713 Studios that's also up there, and then have it mastered on that same block — having lots of people touch it, and people with experience."

Yes Indeed has also tapped into a similar network online that may still be off many older people's radar but is just a more technologically sophisticated version of the old DIY network between venues, agents and promoters, artists and media that existed two or three decades ago.

"Everybody can move very quickly and leave a very small footprint," outlines Peterson. "You have these touring bands who are coming through, and [promotion] is nothing but Internet radio and cassettes being handed over and 99-cent downloads. The whole band will be [living] out of one or two backpacks, and they can just network through the cities."

Peterson admits he and Smith are taking a risk by expanding Yes Indeed, but says he'll be happy if he sees 500 paid customers. To help defray expenses and keep tickets affordable, he's enlisted sponsors like Heights Vinyl and asked the festival's performers to sell advance tickets themselves (tickets are $8 in advance or $15 the day of the event), as well as signing up vendors and soliciting in-kind donations of all sorts.

"Let's just put it this way: There's not gonna be a lot of money having to be spent for the first few hours of beer," laughs Peterson. "That'll be flowing nicely. You can't beat that."

Yes Indeed's doors open at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. See heightsvinyl.com for more info on the ­festival.
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Get Lit

Comic Relief
Rockers' graphic-narrative pursuits are no longer a laughing matter.

Jef with One F

The idea of rock stars being featured in comics is nothing new. One of the many, many urban legends about KISS is that they used their blood in the red ink of a run ­featuring the band as part of the Marvel Comics Super Special series that had also done books starring The Beatles. That legend is true, though what most people will fail to mention is that the comics aren't just bloody, they're bloody awful.

There's a reason for that. For most of the past half century, whenever comic books and rock and roll came together, it was in order to create a marketing or merchandising ploy, not to enhance either medium in any particularly critical way. KISS comics, whether they be the work of Todd MacFarlane, appearances in Archie or the most recent weird noir series by Chris Ryall, are all examples of musical icons willing to allow their image to be thrown on anything for the sake of a buck.

Even Todd Loren's infamous Rock 'N' Roll Comics, which made its money doing unauthorized (and proud of it!) musical biographies, was little better than tabloid fodder, though I proudly own the Cure comics. In short, little good came of getting rock and comics in bed together, no matter how much the two media had in common. But two legends changed all that: Alice Cooper and Neil Gaiman.

Cooper's 1994 album The Last Temptation was a gamble, his first concept album since DaDa. He wanted to explore the story more fully, and recruited the writer of Sandman to flesh out the tale of a boy who becomes fascinated by a demonic showman. Both the album and the three-part comic story are absolutely brilliant, and while the writing is all Gaiman's except for lyrics used in the book, it's clear that Cooper laid down the bones of the story to great effect.

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