10 Can't-Miss Acts at Houston Whatever Fest
Photos courtesy of Houston Whatever Fest
AUTO FELLATIO DREAMS
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
With a name that leaves a distinct impression on our most primitive sensibilities, Auto Fellatio Dreams' imagery lives up to the band's sound. Discordant, harsh and experimental, but in the best sense of the word, their music takes no prisoners. They offer only the black flag. Watching this band perform far exceeds anything that they have recorded. The moments within the moment is where their best performances lie. And their compositions continue to bend any genre into an unrecognizable shape. STEPHAN WYATT
Sunday, 7:50 p.m.
No other musical collective has taken a bigger stake in developing Houston’s music scene than the Bang Bangz. Through Wonky Power’s continued expansion, they have used their skyrocketing ascendancy to cultivate countless local acts instead of using their success for selfish means. Their single “Let Go” continues to display their gift for creating danceable pop music without sacrificing their resplendency of their craft. Always entertaining, watching this act grow right in front of our eyes has been nothing short of breathtaking. STEPHAN WYATT
Sunday, 5:50 p.m.
Houston’s very own supergroup, featuring Vicki Tippit on vocals, James Templeton of LIMB on drums and DJ/producer extraordinaire birdmagic bring angular rhythms, frenetic orchestration, and lush and airy vocals to this weekend's festival. Layers of sensuously ruminative vocals join together with Templeton’s feverish beats to jolt Tippit’s narratives and birdmagic’s deep appreciation for electronic form and composition. A live set can only result in something noteworthy and unforgettable. STEPHAN WYATT
Saturday, 7:50 p.m.
As the pun suggests, this North Carolina trio caters to the sad boys with the TV on and the bong ever-present on the table. Founded in 2011, the band offered a glum, but effective, solution for global warming on their first album: Save the Planet, Kill Yourself. Comparatively, the new record is all endorphins. On New Alhambra, our Depressedly friends have created a top-notch bedroom record — softly whispered, gently warbling, intimate and funny. Stay too long and you might not want to leave. Also, ED's tone on “Rock ‘n’ Roll” wins Whatever Fest’s unofficial Most Blasé award with the following opener: “There’s no such thing as rock ‘n’ roll/ Says my reptilian soul/ Jesus died on the cross/ so I could quit my job.” MATT STIEB
Saturday, 4:40 p.m.
No entertainer, musician or otherwise, knows how to turn up like Fat Tony. Granted, he is an unmistakably gifted performer who fosters connections with his fans like few other artists can. This is only one of his gifts, though. Within the sounds of the hyped-up crowd are lyrics that often force us who listen closely to re-examine the way we look at things in everyday life. Fat Tony notices the unmistakable nuances that so many people take for granted, and reminds us in a poignant way. For God's sake, do not miss Fat Tony perform. Please. STEPHAN WYATT
Sunday, 6 p.m.
For a crash course in badass Latin rhythms, attend the set of Austin’s Grupo Fantasma. Founded in 2000, the Lone Star nonet has become the go-to funk/salsa/cumbia band when a TV show demands a little polyrhythm. In recent years, Fantasma’s work has appeared on Weeds, Ugly Betty, Law & Order and Breaking Bad. Their new album, Problemas, is a rich collection of soul attitude, salsa beat and crisp brass tones. Hype it all you want, but Prince sings the band’s most beautiful praises. “Real musicians playing real music,” says the pop star/sex demigod, whom Grupo Fantasma backs from time to time. MATT STIEB
Saturday, 9:10 p.m.
A GWAR concert is a great setting for consolidating friend groups who are into raw, sludgy metal and orifice-worshipping contemporary performance art. Since 1984, they've have been taking the air out of the metal world and building absurd, blood-spewing props. GWAR might be the only band to employ their own company for costume creation — Slave Pit, Inc. But all the elaborate backstory and gory pomp would be for naught if the band couldn’t shred magnificently through the massive helmets and masks they don each night. For the literary GWAR fan, we recommend their new, exhaustive collection of art and essays, Let There Be GWAR. MATT STIEB
Sunday, 7:30 p.m.
Say what you will about the nostalgia album tour, but without it, we wouldn’t be hearing The Genius perform his proper, post-Wu Tang solo debut. The 20th anniversary of Liquid Swords finds the platinum album as flawless as the year it was concocted in GZA’s Staten Island basement. Over RZA’s smoky landscape, GZA overloads the mic with street images, impossible rhythms and a baggy sang-froid. Listening to the record, it’s hard to argue with the stodgy purists when they say GZA is the GOAT of lyricists. Bonus points if you can quote the jidaigeki samples from Shogun Assassin. MATT STIEB
QUINTRON & MISS PUSSYCAT
Saturday, 11 p.m.
The first time I heard Quintron and Miss Pussycat was sort of like my first taste of candy with chamoy — it's a little strange and totally amazing, and I’m going to finish the entire bag/album. The husband-and-wife New Orleans duo creates weirdo drum-machine funk that sounds like it was created in a vacuum, independent of any sonic lineage. But as you dive in further, familiar flavors come into play. On organ and vocals, Quintron splits the difference between the swampy strut of Lux Interior and the keyboard groove of Ray Manzarek. On maracas and co-lead, Miss Pussycat projects a cosmic snarl similar to The B-52s’ Cindy Wilson. And who could forget Drum Buddy, the homemade, light-activated robot that occupies the rhythm section? MATT STIEB
Sunday, 6:50 p.m.
Warning: Digital Underground’s hit “Humpty Dance” refers to humping, does not mention “Dumpty” and is generally not kid-friendly, though the line “I like my oatmeal lumpy” works for listeners of any age. Second warning: don’t dismiss Shock G and Digital Underground as one-hit wonders. With 1990’s Sex Packets, the Oakland oddballs proved their status as the class clowns of the boom-bap era. And like any member of rap’s Greatest Generation, they knew how to rhyme. With a goofball delivery and a wit to match, Underground leader Shock G displayed a weirdness in his bars that would be comfy in the stylistic homes of Lil B and Young Thug. MATT STIEB
More information available at houstonwhateverfest.com.
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