Last Night: The Tontons At Warehouse Live
Photos by Mark C. Austin
The Tontons, Sun Hotel, Ancient Cat Society Warehouse Live August 11, 2011
Thursday night, the Houston indie scene wished the Tontons a safe and successful journey on a one-month tour of the East Coast and South with a packed-ass show at Warehouse Live. As is the territory in Houston these days, every band is graduating to bigger things. Robert Ellis was being feted by iTunes two nights ago on Twitter, the same time he snagged an upcoming opening slot for George Jones. The Tontons sound-checked with an unreleased Ellis song early Thursday night.
The Tontons themselves keep grabbing buzz left and right, and have been on a steady upward track since at least 2008. Thursday's show was just another gig though, a warm-up for the tour, which the band will be on for the next month before returning to Houston to release their new Golden EP and play the inaugural Houston Press BestFest.
Year of the Cats (L-R): Ancient Cat Society's Austin Sepulvado, Haley Barnes and Sergio Trevino
Openers Ancient Cat Society features three members of Buxton, yet another band on the rise this fall; sitting in was Geoffrey Mueller from, yep, Ellis' backing band the Boys. ACS is a darker and swampier Buxton. Whereas that band floats in the air, ACS has its feet flat on the muddy banks of a drying creek bed.
Catch them where you can (such as... BestFest) before Buxton goes on tour themselves across the country in the next few months.
New Orleans indie four-piece Sun Hotel made for a quality in-between act for the evening, unreeling organic swatches of delicate noise. The group had fans and NOLA expats in the house to cheer them on, and their merch table was busy after their set. Great drumming too - they reminded us of Houston's own sIngs and their new direction they showed off a few weeks back at the Roky Moon record release show.
Bun B showed up right before the Tontons went on to introduce them, as he has lately been a very vocal fan of the group. His presence took the band a few minutes to recoup from before starting their set with "Bones". The usual fan favorites, like "1816" and "Leon" mingled with newer stuff like the whip-crack of "Golden" from the forthcoming EP.
To experience the quartet is to fall in love with lead singer Asli Omar. It's a package deal, you see. She's young, but commands the stage and a crowd with a quickness, bringing elements to the material that you simply don't get on record. Those shimmies and shakes, you know they aren't forced, acting more like a fifth instrument in the band.
Blame the guitar and bass team of Adam Martinez and Tom Nguyen for the voodoo that surrounds her, making the band so catchy. There's weird gypsy marches, straight-ahead garage-rock, soul breakdowns, and enough of a light snarl to make things a touch dirty.
It's funny. They are one of the few bands in town who don't have a readily available mainstream band to make an off-the-cuff comparison. The Tontons sound like the motherfucking Tontons.
Personal Bias: That whole "Let's see this band as much as we can in small places before they start hanging with The Strokes and Mark Ronson" thing.
The Crowd: After Bun B introduced the Tontons, he took a spot near the bar at stage left and was mobbed by a downpour of Houston love.
Overheard In the Crowd: We found out Warrant's Jani Lane passed away during Sun Hotel's set, so that was a topic of discussion. That and whether or not it was bad cherry pie. We kid. He was a cool dude.
Random Notebook Dump: Oh to be a young, hot band with a foxy lead singer, if only for the free booze, which was coming in waves from the bar and to the side of the stage.