Team Rocks Off was staffed with the not-insignificant task of effectively covering nine different venues during Saturday's Houston Press Music Awards, which led to this member of the Aftermath squadron being camped out at Kobain for the first half of our day. We accepted our post and then took a look at our itinerary: Four artists we knew little, if anything, about, capped by one of our favorite bands in the city.
We'd been to Kobain once before; the unassuming bar-hopper is likely to miss its slightly off the Washington strip locale. Aftermath scored a prime parking spot, downed the rest of our sports drink and a bag of sunflower seeds - an attempt at recovering from a photo shoot in the morning heat - and thought about how lame our pre-game was. Surely by now Rocks Off Jr. had souped himself in bourbon, and here we were replenishing electrolytes.
We strolled in just as 2 Dollar Sound was beginning their set, spotting amongst the band two Sesame Street T-shirts, a top hat, a fedora, a full cowboy outfit and a front woman dressed as a princess. If their outfits were funky, their music was even more so - apparently two dollars can buy you a tremendous amount of slap-bass and vocal histrionics.
Aftermath settled in with some bourbon and chanced upon a colleague. Full disclosure: We were so excited - we met Shea Serrano in the flesh, son! There was some talk of how non-gangster our outfits were and what to expect from the upcoming rappers Preemo and Coast.
We were honestly in the dark about both of these rappers before Saturday - in fact, Aftermath will admit we came into the day not even knowing that Coast was a rap act. Preemo's set was hampered by some technical difficulties with his backing tracks, but he and his hype man would not let it bog them down, and they soldiered through songs from Concrete Dreams. Hands bounced, heads bobbed and the crowd was generally pretty happy.
Before Coast started, we sighed deeply. You see, there was a girl from KPFT who was apparently playing host for the day. Decked out in a red bandana, 2 Dollar Sound shirt and a vest & pants combo, she was espousing the station and attempting to teach people how to vote for the artists via text message.
That's all fine and dandy. Aftermath can appreciate some enthusiasm, and KPFT is a valuable and historic station in this town - but not, however, the only station supporting local artists nor the only non-Clear Channel outlet on Houston's FM dial, as she was claiming.
Coast, however, impressed us - just looking at him, we felt happy. Not in that "he's a big rapper, thus he equivocates a sense of jolliness" way, either - maybe it was his bright yellow Astros cap, or the fact that he's got his name tattooed on his own forearm, but we liked what we saw. His flows were nice, too; a bit of coarse gravel to his vocals and some solid tracks made a fan out of us.
Aftermath had hit critical mass - or rather, critical non-mass in our stomach. So, armed with a VIP wristband we decided to trudge down to Ei8ht for some pizza - after all, it was just down Washington, and we had ample time to get there and back, right?
Well, while Aftermath is great with directions, we're a horrible estimate of time and distance in our hungry moments. Seriously, we once looked at a map in Paris and decided "we could walk that, it's not far." Eight kilometers, four hours, and a couple blisters later we had trudged our heavy pack into town and wasted our day.
This time it meant that we walked too far, caught a smidgen of Female Demand at The Drinkery, and heard a metal cover of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" pouring forth from Pearl. It would have been cool back when the bar was still Mary Jane's, but it just made Aftermath sadly nostalgic for a time long before popped collars and fake tans were prevalent on Washington.
All this is to say that due to our mistake, we missed Espantajaros. Aftermath did manage to score some pizza and hang out with the fellas from Buxton, however. They've nearly finished recording their album at SugarHill, and in the mean time they'll be putting out two EPs. One features all the songs from their demos that didn't make the album, the other will feature songs they recorded but didn't release - with the exception of Feathers and Flint from their seven inch.
Aftermath caught a ride back to Kobain in Sergio Trevino's car and chatted on the patio with several of our Rocks Off brethren while the band loaded in gear. We grabbed a spot up front amongst a packed crowd and settled in for a set we'd anticipated all day. Not only had Chris Wise informed us that "our funeral song" was first, but also Aftermath had been promised more new songs and guest vocals from Haley Barnes.
Buxton led off with "Oh My Boy" - a dark new song that we'd heard at Walter's recently and declared it fantastic enough that we wanted it played at our funeral. Aftermath has long been fans of the boys from La Porte, but goodness - their new stuff is going to blow this town away. They stomped, rollicked, cooed and shuffled their way through a staggering if brief set, dropping new songs and showcasing what all their studio time has done for the group.
As our duties at Kobain had ended, we drove our own clown car full of friends over to the main stage, arriving at the tail end of Trae's set. The day had been good to us and we still had our headliners to come, so we loaded up our cup and prepared to take in the show. Maybe we had indeed fist-pumped the Washington shore, but it was to Buxton, so it's acceptable.
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Personal Bias: We explained ourselves with Buxton, right? Good, because we're not going to quit lauding them.
The Crowd: You, me and everyone we know, and some drunk MILFs and even more drunk non-MILFs.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I don't know her, but sure, we can take a picture together."
Random Notebook Dump: Fact: More rappers need to utilize backing bands.