Aftermath: Birds of Avalon Heads an Energetic Threesome at Rudyard's

Aftermath: Birds of Avalon Heads an Energetic Threesome at Rudyard's
Photos by Craig Hlavaty

Aftermath used to have this crazy roommate who scoured small to mid-sized rock venues all over Houston looking for new rock bands to champion to his friends. His favorite locales were Gary's Spot up in Tomball and Fitzgerald's, mostly because he knew that these venues would allow him to first enjoy the music of ambitious guitar-driven hard rock acts and then get his drink on for cheap. We duly give this fine gentleman credit for introducing us to the music of alternative rock bands like Nothingmore, Mechanical Boy and Fired For Walking. So when we heard that the latter band in that was playing at Rudyard's on a rather cool Friday evening in Houston, we decided to head out to hear FFW for the first time in honor of our former roommate, as his current unemployed state prevented him from being present. It certainly helped to learn that Hell City Kings would be bringing its brand of boozing, brawling punk to the stage of this treasured Montrose music spot. The potential wild card in the scenario was Birds Of Avalon, a group of whom we'd heard next to nothing, but as you'll read later, we shouldn't have worried in the slightest.

Aftermath: Birds of Avalon Heads an Energetic Threesome at Rudyard's

The night started with Fired For Walking hitting the stage a bit before 11 p.m. to a rather smallish crowd comprised of primarily of true believers who knew the words to all the songs and gleefully raised their pint glasses to the band's sound. Granted, this gave the show a rather intimate feel as the quartet responded by playing to their strengths and having a good time, knowing that they didn't have to impress anyone. The result was a rather enjoyable mix of mid-late '90s post-grunge alterna-rock and '70s classic rock hooks, all powered by two guitar players who traded both lead lines and vocal duties. Fired For Walking displayed good energy and camaraderie during its set, along a strong belief in the music it was making, all qualities that Aftermath values in any band. Honestly, we felt a bit sad for Hell City Kings on this night, because, even though we thought this hard-bitten, riotous punk group played a good show, most of the crowd stayed seated, content to drink its beers and cheer when each track was over. In true punk fashion, the band had no problem poking fun at the crowd's lack of activity. At one point, the lead singer ended a song by welcoming everyone to poetry night at Rudyard's and then snapping his fingers in mocking homage to that spoken-word standby. Aftermath would much rather have seen this rambunctious quintet working up an unruly mosh pit into a frenzy with its searing punk riffs, tight drumming and attitude aplenty. In our humble opinion, this was a really solid set that blazed from song to song and drink to drink with a substantial bit of swagger. As we mentioned earlier, we entered Rudyard's completely unfamiliar with the music of Birds Of Avalon. By the end of the second song, we were ready to scoop up each of the three vinyl LPs from this engaging five-piece's syncopated, trippy sort of indie rock. Deftly synchronizing aspects of Yo La Tengo, Blonde Redhead and psychedelic '70s rock, the band's sound also featured a nice pop swing at times that was most frequently exemplified in the two- and three-part harmonies being constructed by four of the five band members. Great bass grooves were set against counterpoint melodies from the lead singer's synthesizer while the two guitar players whipped out some tasty guy-vs.-girl lead lines, all while the drummer more than capably kept the off-kilter pacing and shifting time signatures right on track. All told, Birds Of Avalon succeeded in doing what the two openers could not - bringing the majority of the assembled crowd to its feet and right up to the stage. In one sense, it was a slightly convoluted night in terms of the three bands' respective styles, but once we peeked behind the curtain a bit, it became more than evident that what tied it all together was how everyone's music was driving, up-tempo and very energetic. That being said, Aftermath simply wishes that a livelier, larger group of folks had been present at Rudyard's, complete with an intensity matching that of the bands on this night. When we see and hear a band putting it all on the line with their music, complete with frequent requests for people to get on their feet, get into the music, and rush the stage, we certainly do sympathize with musicians wanting more active crowds at their shows. One thing is for sure - our crazy former roommate would have spent the entire night standing right in front of the stage, singing along at the top of his lungs, and knocking back bottle after bottle of Lone Star.


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