Flying Fish Sailors/photos by Brigitte B. Zabak
Folk music might be an acquired taste for some, but Flying Fish Sailors have found a way to bring that traditional sound to the masses, with lively melodies and clean, unencumbered harmonies. No subject is too small for the likable quintet, whose songs Sunday touched on themes ranging from death and war (“The Flu Pandemic”) to cats (“My Big Cat”).
The Sailors' songwriting is very witty and smart; it's not easy to write about things like mythical creatures and have it appeal widely to an adult audience. The band's showcase performance drew a sizeable number of people, equal parts devoted fans and newcomers. The group's commitment to its music really came through onstage, especially during “Loch Ness Monster.” The set was instantly contagious, and by the end, there wasn’t a non-smiling face in the crowd.
There's something to be said for a band that can draw a crowd as diverse and eclectic as its music. Comprised of musicians who got their start in other local bands (Los Skarnales, Sideshow Tramps, Kam), Umbrella Man delivered a tight mixture of everything from country to blues to swing jazz. With so many different styles, it can be difficult to keep the music focused, but Sunday Umbrella Man's set was as blended as it was separate and distinct.
The audience took notice of every note. The upright bass' deep thump combined with the accordion's playful clunk of the accordion to create an irresistible rhythm that instantly got people moving. The area in front of the stage was filled with couples, young and old, dancing away.
Wayside Drive, pre-switch
Alternative rock is not dead, as Houston trio Wayside Drive proved Sunday with a set free of pretension and insincerity – a new twist on a familiar sound. Halfway through, the three members even switched instruments to give the audience a taste of something different, but the switch did nothing to lessen the band's obvious musical chemistry.
Natalie Osborn’s strong stage presence and even stronger vocal range dominated the set, and . despite the modest crowd, those who were there were committed and interested; an overabundance of head-bobbing was a clear indication the music was making an impact. Towards the end, a cover of Simple Minds' “Don’t You Forget About Me” stole the show.
Sometimes going to see bands who exemplify the “nice guys” persona can be overrated and kind of boring. It can be more fun to listen to a band who simply doesn’t care what you think about them and just wants to play really loud. Born Liars would be the latter, with in-your-face attitude and equally brash music.
The smallish Butterfly High was packed wall-to-wall with fans hungry to hear the Liars' dirty, jagged punk, and the band delivered a guaranteed release from the everyday monotony of life. They were a musical catharsis granting the crowd permission to get angry and give the finger to not only the world, but even the band itself. The fact-paced songs and ear-splitting harmonies couldn't help but force the audience to wake up and pay attention.
Poor Dumb Bastards
The name really says it all, but the Poor Dumb Bastards say a lot of things – loudly and repetitively. This local punk entourage has been spitting in the face of conformity for a lot of years now, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Lead singer Byron Dean has a strong affinity for being masked and naked onstage, and showed remarkable restraint this by kindly keeping the spandex clinging to his sweaty body in place. The music was run-of-the-mill punk - loud, fast and either makes you want to laugh or get really pissed off and start a fight. The Bastards' secret weapon though, was of course Dean’s unapologetic antics.
The rather large and enthusiastic audience was comprised of everything from heavy metal hipsters to, oddly enough, nubile young women who seemed enthralled with Dean’s presence – butt crack and all. Poor Dumb Bastards is exactly what it claims to be, nothing more and nothing less.
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departing Young Mammals drummer Iram Guerrero
Young Mammals’ indie-inspired power pop they is instantly likeable and evokes an intense desire to dance. Inspired by bands like the Pixies and Sonic Youth, those influences can be evident in the quartet's music, but the sound is undoubtedly unique. Young Mammals has amassed a large, dedicated following over the years, and Sunday played to a packed, enthusiastic subset of fans.
Midway through their set, the guys experienced some technical difficulty with Carlos Sanchez’s guitar, a brief intermission that gave the crowd an opportunity to start yelling out requests. The Mammals responded with lighthearted banter, but made it clear that they were in charge of the set list. But that was all forgotten once Sanchez's instrument was back in working order, and the rest of the set was just as energetic and fun, if not more so, than the beginning. - Brigitte B. Zabak