The 10 Best Acts to See at iFest's First Weekend
Photos courtesy of Houston International Festival
Richard Cagle & The Voodoo Choir Whether you love rock and roll, have a soft spot for the blues, or are just a sucker for good storytelling, Richard Cagle & the Voodoo Choir are sure to please. Possessed of an affinity for the blues since he was a boy, Cagle familiarized himself with the likes of Lightnin' Hopkins when he moved to Houston in the late '60s.
Despite heavily downtrodden lyrics, the Voodoo Choir's energetic guitar licks, funky bass lines and heart-pounding percussion are sure to keep fans' feet tapping. (7:30 p.m. Sunday, BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press) MATTHEW KEEVER
El Gran Silencio This group from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico is the epitome of "Avanzada Regia," a lively fusion of rock, reggae, cumbia and hip-hop that soared in its popularity both in northern Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. in the '90s and '00s. Actively working and touring since forming in 1993, Silencio has traveled throughout the Americas, Europe and Japan. Ironically, their name translates into "The Great Silence," although they are arguably one of the best and loudest ambassadors of Rock En Español.
One of their most popular tracks is their 2003 cover of Juan Gabriel's "No Tengo Dinero," with was produced and performed with A.B. Quintanilla III's Kumbia Kings. They will certainly unleash their "chuntaro style" upon H-Town. (6:30 p.m. Sunday, Bud Light World Stage) MARCO TORRES
INXS-ive Not going to lie: a small part of us was hoping iFest would pull off a minor coup and book INXS this year. That didn't happen, as it's unclear whether the veteran Aussie pop-funk-rockers are either on indefinite hiatus or just defunct, but here's the next best thing: the L.A.-based "world's best INXS tribute band" that has in fact already posted its iFest set list. Looks like we're in store for everything from early New Wave gems "Don't Change" and "This Time" to underrated later singles "Elegantly Wasted" and "Pretty Vegas," and of course all the hits in between. (6:30 p.m. Saturday, BHP Billiton Center Stage) CHRIS GRAY
La Santa Cecilia La Santa Cecilia receives its name from the patron saint of musicians. This holy foursome from Los Angeles has been swiftly climbing up the Latin Alternative charts thanks to lead singer Marisol "La Marisoul" Hernandez's heartfelt vocals and a spicy sound mixing Pan-American rhythms with rock, soul and jazz.
The group's 2013 debut, Trienta Días, won the Grammy Award for for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Most of their tracks include accordion as the main instrumental voice, ranging from cumbia to tango, ranchera to classical. Hit single "Monedita" is a sweet and lively Spanglish ode to being happy and having fun without having or spending very much money. (2:30 p.m. Saturday, Bud Light World Stage)
Anne McCue Listening to Anne McCue, it's hard to believe that she grew up in Sydney, Australia. Best defined as Americana, her sound draws inspiration from classic and modern artists such as Bob Dylan and Wilco. A rare Aussie playing this year's Down Under-themed iFest, McCue is performing both Saturday and Sunday at late-afternoon time slots that should bring the best of Australia and America together. (4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Cooper's Down Under Pub) ALYSSA DUPREE
Laura Mvula Hailing from Birmingham, England, Laura Mvula is still working her way up the musical totem pole, but not for long. Equal parts jazz crooner and pop singer, and backed by both orchestral and brass ensembles, Mvula balances a wide range of musical styles to arrive somewhere between Lauryn Hill and Adele (with a nods toward indie darling Frou Frou). With her set falling sometime around sundown, Mvula's performance could be nothing short of magical. (6:30 p.m. Saturday, Bud Light World Stage) ALYSSA DUPREE
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The Neutral Sister For such a sizable Caribbean community, Houston isn't exactly swimming in lady reggae singers (or reggae singers at all), but that's one market we're happy Kyra Noons aka The Neutral Sister has all but cornered. Her laid-back but no-nonsense rasta style caught some pretty important ears early on, when she and late sister Bianca grabbed legendary producers Sly and Robbie's attention, and recorded the 2003 album Live N Direct as the Neutral Sisters.
Now into her thirties, Noons doesn't play out all that often -- though she is well-traveled to festivals as close as Galveston and as far away as Jamaica and even Kenya - so iFest is an ideal opportunity to catch up with one of Houston's more undeservedly obscure musical talents. (2:30 p.m. Sunday, Bud Light World Stage) CHRIS GRAY
The New Mastersounds Hailing from Leeds, England, the New Mastersounds showcase a vintage sound that continues to resonate despite its age. Their throwback vibe notwithstanding, the funk/jazz-fusion quartet is only 15 years young and retro-soul still holds a pretty special place in plenty of people's hearts, so these Brits should feel quite a warm welcome from the crowd. Let's boogie! (4:30 p.m. Saturday, Bud Light World Stage)MATTHEW KEEVER
The Suffers Not sure what else we can possibly say about the Suffers, except this: the rest of the nation has now begun flipping out over Kam Franklin and the boys' signature brand of Gulf Coast rocksteady soul, after Paste magazine premiered the video for "Gwan" earlier this week. Also, we ran into singer Kam Franklin at Cactus on Record Store Day and she told us that the Suffers are still hard at work on their first full-length album, with an eye toward releasing it on their own instead of shopping it to labels. Gwan, then. (7 p.m. Saturday, BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press) CHRIS GRAY
Young Girls Young Girls' charming garage-pop is tidy, energetic and almost always note-perfect. Some have called them a baby Kinks, which certainly fits, but Young Girls stand just fine on their own; Nylon magazine opined, "indie-rock for people who kinda secretly love pop." The Girls are proud owners of a brand-new 7-inch through Austin's Town Hall Records. Listen to it here before you head out to iFest, and see them Thursday opening for the Dandy Warhols too. (4 p.m. Saturday, BB&T Heart of Texas Stage presented by Houston Press) CHRIS GRAY
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