AUSTIN — SXSW has been great this week, but we’re already yearning for the less hilly streets of home, roads that lead to venues that don’t require special badge access and devoid of clueless scenesters. That’s why we’re leaving Austin early and bee-lining to For the Community 13, the local semi-annual celebration of the arts that returns Friday to Eastdown Warehouse, Last Concert Café and Notsuoh. Even with hundreds of acts playing official and unofficial shows in the state capitol this week, we’re likely to see more music at FTC, since the trek to and from most of its music is separated by one short block. Also, no pre-registered reservations are required to gain admittance to the venues for FTC's more than 70 musical acts. And, best of all, the festival is still free, just as it was on Day 1, thanks to the venues, its organizers (Houston Free Thinkers and Visionary Noise) and sponsors Red Publication, Raw Tejas Soup and Free Thinker Radio.
Barring an unlikely pop-in from Austin by SXSWers like Wu-Tang Clan or Kate Nash, there won’t be an “already famous” act at FTC, but there may be several “almost famous” ones. This festival has excelled at spotting talent on the rise and bringing it to music-hungry Houstonians. As we’ve done in the past, we asked Visionary Noise’s Micah Jackson to share some acts that should be on our radar.
Self-described as “noisy, sludgy stoner rock,” Cake Rangers features guitars. Loads of them, played loudly and under the influence of bands like Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Nirvana. We last caught them at Rudyard’s with kindred souls Alone on the Moon and the building’s foundation and frame are still recovering. That was nearly a year ago. Rudz was the site of the Rangers’ live album, loaded for your listening enjoyment on their Bandcamp site. Sample it here for a taste of what they’ll be slicing at FTC.
FERAL THE EARTHWORM
An FTC favorite, Austin underground rapper Feral the Earthworm brings enlightened rhymes to the festival’s masses every time he appears. Check out his blog for some background and learn how those adventures evolve into his music. The festival has always featured hip-hop acts, but few represent its ethos the way this rhymesayer does. “I think [he] represents the gritty, concerned, driven event that is FTC,” Jackson notes.
Ricky Dee, Noe Kimes and Sammy Reyna make throwback acid rock that looks and sounds like something from the Nixon era, all delivered with Muhammad Ali-strength hooks. They’re one of the top-billed acts on the event, a Houston Press Music Award-winning group that has grown since the festival’s earliest days. “Despite their growth, touring and playing with national acts, they still bring it home to FTC,” Jackson says.
Jackson said he’s excited about this act’s FTC debut. The band is an ambient synthwave duo whose most recent release dropped in February and is titled “H is For Fun.” It comes with a telling description: “In Houston, people got this thing with, ‘I’ll be there in like 15 minutes.’ This song was written for that 15-minute drive.” Talented and practical – sounds like our kind of band.
Jackson ranks Soul Creatures, Positive Disturbance and this band as the acts that are most likely to have bodies movin’ at FTC. These ska fusionists are one of the busiest acts in Houston — they’ve played Darwin’s, Satellite and Scout Bar this month alone — and should have listeners kicking up a sandstorm during their midnight set at Last Concert Café.
This new act has a familiar look about it, especially for FTC-goers. The band reunites Austin Clark and and Andrew Dethloff, veteran Houston musicians who performed as Lion Among Men for several years, including at some of For the Community’s first fests. The new indie-folk act is a full band and recently released the track, “Savannah,” which has gained some local buzz.
Scubadiver makes its first FTC bow this weekend and Jackson is excited to have them on board. It would seem he’s not the only one. FTC’s organizers asked prospective fest-goers to rank the bands they were most eager to catch in a poll recently and the Conroe-based indie rock trio was at the top of the list.
The music industry can be a soul-crushing enterprise. Here in Austin this week, we’ve encountered many of the hungry artists toiling away at 10 a.m. showcases for little to no audience. The joy of music slowly seeps from their vacant faces in these moments. That’s why we can’t wait to be reminded why music is uplifting and beautiful by the Soul Creatures. Always delivering positive messages with more funk than a middle school boys’ locker room, the Creatures are the perfect, exuberant antidote to the music biz’s harsh mechanisms
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These prog-rockers garnered a Paste write-up earlier this year for their track “Evensong,” which was a nice nod from music aficionados outside of Houston. Here at home the band, which is something of a family enterprise, has a strong following thanks to 94.5 FM’s Texas Buzz airplay.
Making the trip from Flower Mound, Texas (it’s near Denton, y’all) is Wren, a D.I.Y. indie alt-rock quartet Jackson is thrilled to have on board. The band has been called “alt-sad” for its introspective tone and lyrics, sung with appropriate longing by frontwoman Emma Dunkelberger. Check out its 2016 album, Infernum, for a taste before the band hits Houston.