Showcase Sunday, Part 1
Dominique: "We guess critics would call her style 'neo-soul,' but it didn't seem very 'neo' to me, more like 'jazzy soul.' She fronted a piano-led trio with two backing vocalists and from the first sultry Fender Rhodes groove to the final explosive climax, she added some spice to HOB's catfish and shrimp." Greg Ellis Mitch Jacobs Band: "Mitch Jacobs and band are tonkin' and twangin' hard. Jacobs goes into his Johnny Cash voice and does a restrained opening to Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down' before unleashing his band. The crowd is suddenly his." William Michael Smith Runaway Sun: "Doesn't take long for blues-rock foursome Runaway Sun to go into full-on rock-star mode. The place is packed right now, and guitarist Daniel de Luna is absolutely killing it. People are literally hooting and hollering." Shea Serrano Sideshow Tramps: "Every showcase, it seems we pick up a new favorite band, and this year's honors go to Sideshow Tramps. After launching into a rollicking acoustic rendition of 'When The Saints Go Marching In' that led the band through the audience and out the door, Geoffrey Muller remounted the stage and announced "We're the Sideshow Tramps, and if you couldn't tell, we don't give a fuck.'" Nicholas L. Hall Showcase Sunday, Part 2
B L A C K I E: "His show at Dean's Credit Clothing found him climbing his amps and jumping onto the venue's bar as if it were an inviting skyscraper ledge. With each show we see, the man seems to get more frantic and feral." Craig Hlavaty Glenna Bell: "The folksters hummed and swayed with straight teeth and inside voices, making way for a songstress that lights campfires. Glenna, we raise our griddle-cakes to you." Brandon K. Hernsberger MELOVINE: "The band's energy was high as they tore into their set of alterna-metal, falling somewhere between Tool and He Is Legend... pretty radio-friendly, if radio still played metal. (No, screamo doesn't count. Stop it.)" John Seaborn Gray Benjamin Wesley: "It's a little clearer that Wesley's songs - the electro/hip-hop skiffle of "Have You Ever Died?," for example - belong in the same class as Spoon's Britt Daniel or My Morning Jacket's Jim James, referencing the entire spectrum of pop music while maintaining a singular individuality." Chris Gray Dixie Trahan: "While Trahan and her writing partner/husband have a few original songs in the set, it didn't take Aftermath long to realize we were essentially listening to a cover band. A good cover band, but a cover band nonetheless. And the vibe was 'let's line dance.'" William Michael Smith Showcase Sunday, Part 3
Peekaboo Theory: "Peekaboo Theory manages to thrill us every time. The deep-space throb of analogue synth wash; echo-laden turntable fading in and out like cosmic radio scatter; guitars that alternate between the angular stab of post-punk, the riffing crunch of hardcore and occasional moments of gentle fingerpicking; pulsating bass that makes the music feel as if it's pounding out of your chest." Nicholas L. Hall Buxton: "Buxton held the attention of the crowd and encouraged audience participation better than any act we saw save perhaps Peekaboo Theory. Maybe it was just that time of night when everyone was finally starting to come alive, but we'd think it would have at least something to do with the band's appealing sincerity and unpretentious intelligence." John Seaborn Gray Metavenge: "The young lads, not even of legal drinking age, look like a gang of wild children, with hellacious manes of hair and menacing fret work. Hiiting the stage at Dean's just right after B L A C K I E, Metavenge brought to mind the days when Public Enemy and Anthrax shared a festival stage." Craig Hlavaty Free Radicals: "Free Radicals know how to own a room. They know how to induce a smile from you the jaded, and they are unabashedly confident in their ability to make you stand up and sh-sh-shake your ass." Brandon K. Hernsberger Showcase Sunday, Part 4
Versecity: "At some point Aftermath glanced up, noticed Dimebag Darrell's guitar and wondered what the late Pantera and Damageplan guitar hero would think of this wholesome band who pretty obviously grew up on a whole lotta Creed and Blue October. It smelled like hamburgers, not pot smoke." Chris Gray The Tontons: "Vocalist Asli Omar is a madwoman. She booms when she sings, but she's all of about 80 pounds. We're not exactly sure what a pixie is, but we're fairly confident she looks just like one." Shea Serrano Fat Tony: "Tony brings people together in a way no entertainer Aftermath has ever seen, and he's ours, Houston's, and thank God for that. Known for legendary freestyle battles with some of the city's most feared and respected MC's, Fat Tony shocked the shit out of rhyming alphabeticals." Brandon K. Hernsberger Los Skarnales: "When the curtain went up at House of Blues, Felipe Galvan and his vatos did what they always do: explode like a neutron bomb. The Skarnales have stage movement down to a science, with three horns jiving at one mic and front man Galvan leaping and dancing in his white patent leather shoes." William Michael Smith Chango Man: "They mixed cumbias with Ramones-like tributes to tamales (complete with tamales thrown into the crowd!) hard-rock guitar with funky Latin rhythms all topped with a singer who began the set banging on a cowbell and ended it screaming in a fetal position. Awesome." Greg Ellis
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"As for Thursday's performers - Scarface duck-walking with the Flamin' Hellcats, Mechanical Boy's spastic alt-rock, Umbrella Man's roof-raising gospel, Born Liars' general ass-kickery, Benjamin Wesley's bizarrely beautiful one-man orchestra, Nosaprise's esoteric acoustic groove - you're the reason we're here writing this up and not holed up in some South Austin squat with a needle and a spoon."Chris GraySee a road map to Rocks Off's complete HPMA coverage here.