TRU Music

Though short-lived, springtime in Houston can be pretty damn amazing. It's one of the rare moments when you can take a walk, ride a bike, plant some bulbs or just take it eeeeasy, free from the pore-clogging, lung-choking humidity. And best of all, spring brings the KTRU Outdoor Show, where you can spend your Sunday afternoon picnicking and listening to a smorgasbord of eclectic music -- for free.

This year, the 14th annual event features California-based Anna Oxygen -- one part indie-pop diva, one part cheerleader -- and her wicked-awesome voice and discotronic sounds. Comic strip artist and rocker James Kochalka and his band Superstar will kick off the festivities with an arsenal of songs about things like, um, mutant carrots. Other acts include jazz trio Bruckmann/Rawlings/Dove, Hokum Guff, Scenic Railroads and Tree Wave, a Dallas-area duo that incorporates archaic machines like the Commodore 64 and dot-matrix printers into their tunes. "It's a spectacle, to say the least," says Matt Stilt, the show's organizer.

The daylong event draws music lovers, families, curious passersby and an assortment of Hacky Sackers and Frisbee tossers. But don't be surprised to see a mélange of metal dudes mingling with preppies or grandpas chatting up hippie chicks. Living up to KTRU's diverse radio format, Stilt says, the Outdoor Show is "a good reason to get different people to hang out and listen to different styles of music" -- even if a certain genre isn't your bag. (Last year's show, for example, proved children especially love the synthetic sounds of electro.)

And kickin' back on a lawn on a clear spring day to hear new music seems a helluva lot more enjoyable than enduring those sweltering, Arrow-sponsored outdoor concerts. Last time we checked, none of those stadium bands ever rocked out with a Commodore 64.

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Travis Ritter