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.
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.
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.
It would be more than a decade before something that good would come along again.
I'm no fan of My Chemical Romance, though that's probably just gothic snottiness over what most goths refer to as "Hot Topic emo bullshit." The weird thing is, that band was never really supposed to happen. Gerard Way grew up idolizing and drawing comics. He was even a guest on Sally Jesse Raphael at age 16 discussing the controversy surrounding featuring serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer in comic books.
Way was on track to enter the comic industry, and had just about chosen the worst time to do it. Comics had collapsed in the wake of oversaturation and poor quality in the '90s. Then he watched the September 11 tragedy unfold and decided that staring at a computer screen in the basement working on breaking into comics was futile, not to mention depressing. That's how My Chemical Romance was started, as a backup gig to a comic nerd's big dream.
Luckily, Way never let go of that dream because he is a fantastic comic creator. In 2007, he teamed with artist Gabriel Ba to put out a six-issue comic called The Umbrella Academy. It's the story of a mad scientist who collects mysterious children born with astounding powers and turns them into a superpowered fighting force. It turns out that making kids into commandos fighting bloody battles doesn't do much for the psyche, and they reunite for a dysfunctional version of the apocalypse upon the death of their adoptive father.
It's a mad book, a perceptive look at rejection and familial relationships backdropped in a fully developed world of strange wonders. Way won an Eisner Award for the work, and followed it up with a sequel. Now he's putting out a really first-rate monthly book, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, which focuses on a mysterious girl trying to reunite a shattered rebellion against a tyrannical corporation that rules the world.
Today more and more rockers are finding a voice in comics, especially thanks to the publisher Dark Horse. In 2011, Tom Morello wrote a 12-issue series, Orchid, that followed a prostitute who learns she is more than just a role in society in a postapocalyptic world. Slipknot and Stone Sour's Corey Taylor also entered the comic arena this year with House of Gold & Bones, which calls to mind Gaiman and Cooper's Last Temptation work by tying in with Stone Sour's concept album of the same name, which was released in April. Taylor has said that the comic may pave the way for a film soon.
Even Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah and composer Adrian Younge have gotten in on the comic medium, releasing Twelve Reasons to Die to tremendous critical acclaim. That's the difference you're seeing now, I feel. Folks like Way and Ghostface not only have a solid love and appreciation for comic books, they also don't see them as mere marketing tools. For the first time since Cooper and Gaiman sat down together to write the story of Steven and a haunted stage show, music and comics are getting an equal amount of effort when the two collide.
Which is a fair sight better than watching Gene Simmons's boots breathe fire for no damned reason.
Farewell to a DJ
Friends and loved ones, including more than 25 turntablists, pay last respects to Elroy Boogie.
When Roy Samano was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, the city's tight-knit community of DJs and entertainment personalities stood in shock. Samano, who was known throughout Houston and beyond by his DJ name "Elroy Boogie," was one of the kindest, most loving and most talented DJs ever to touch a turntable. When he passed away last month, our hearts sank. Hundreds attended his eulogy and funeral service.
September 3 at Mixxwell Audio Lab (1550 Westheimer), those same friends and family came together in tribute to Elroy Boogie. When a police officer or soldier passes away, there's a 21-gun salute. When a beloved sports figure goes on to the big ballfield in the sky, we are shown highlights of his or her career. So it's only fitting that a DJ be remembered with a mixer and a turntable, or, in this case, eight mixers and turntables.
Of all the elements of turntablism, which include beat-juggling and mixing, scratching and cutting are the most personal. The DJ uses his or her own imagination to create sounds that accompany the backing beat being played. No two cutting sessions sound exactly the same, nor did the ones at Samano's tribute.
The late DJ's parents, brother and other family members were in attendance, each wearing the now-famous Elroy Boogie caricature T-shirts and buttons. The night was organized as a benefit to the Samano family, with a donation requested at the door. The minimum goal was to raise at least $1,000 to offset medical bills accumulated during Samano's illness, an amount that will be matched with another $1,000 courtesy of the local Red Bull office.
Houston DJ crew The Almighty Kracker Nuttz, of which Elroy was a member, hosted and organized the event in conjunction with the Samano family, with Kracker Nuttz co-founders DJ Baby Jae and Klean Cutt keeping things running smoothly. Other DJ crews in attendance included the Booth Pimps and Kratez Crew, as well as DJs from Austin who drove in to show respect, reaching a total of almost 40 DJs.
A special candle featuring Samano's likeness will be lit at every future Kracker Nuttz event.
Ask Willie D
Mama's Boy Blues
Is a reader a good son or just tied up with apron strings?
Dear Willie D:
I'm a single 34-year-old man with no kids. I haven't had a relationship in a while. I work two jobs to help my mother, who had been working for the Houston Chronicle for twentysomething years. They laid her off in 2005; now she has a new job, but it doesn't pay well. She couldn't pay her mortgage and utilities by herself, so I stepped in to help her out.
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To save money, I decided to move back in with my mom, but people view this as a negative thing. I mean, it's not like I'm sitting at home doing nothing and making babies like a lot of mama's boys do. I really want to have a relationship with a lady, but it seems I can't because of my situation. What can I do?
You're right that society frowns on grown men who live with their mothers. As with the expectation of a woman being wholesome, it's one of those double-standard things we have to live with. To a woman, a man living with his mother under any circumstances is not attractive. Women want to live in their own house with their man, and they don't want another woman telling their man what to do. Additionally, they don't want their man considering another woman's needs ahead of their own, even if that woman is his destitute mother.
If you want to be in a relationship and be taken seriously, get your own place. If you can't afford to help your mom and have your own place, move her in with you. When you finally meet the one you want to take home to Mom, make sure you're not locked out outside because you missed your curfew.