In accord with the time-honored tradition, before every Houston Texans football contest at NRG Stadium, someone is trotted onto the field to perform the national anthem.
In a nod to fans, something the hometown football team truly excels at, it is "auditioning" talent to perform the song before the team's December 28 home game. It's part of a contest the Texans have done previously, inviting fans to load their video auditions to the team's Facebook or Twitter accounts and use the hashtag #TexansFanthem.
When that game arrives, it'll be a merciless beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, my hopes are that sweet victory will be preceded by a stirring rendition of the anthem performed by Kam Franklin of The Suffers.
Because Franklin and her bandmates are routinely mentioned in this blog, I sense some readers bristling at the notion. "Ugh," I can foresee in the comments, "another article about The Suffers?"
Well, yes. The band is highly talented, as bigger and better gigs confirm. Thursday, in fact, they got some fresh love from none other than SPIN magazine, who said "they're the sort of neo-retro group you never knew music was so badly missing." (According to band manager Mark C. Austin, the exclusive stream of the band's "Make Some Room" was SPIN's most-shared story of the day Wednesday.)
New Orleans' Voodoo Fest and Friday's opening slot for soul man supreme Lee Fields at Warehouse Live are among the most recent highlights. This is the sort of band Houstonians can and should be proud of, the kind that in the past would have taken its fortunes to Austin to see what endorsements it might garner there.
And, because the band is still here, doing its thing in its hometown, this is why Franklin and her cohorts are getting this "endorsement." Truthfully, I enjoy what the Suffers do, but this vote of confidence has less to do with them than the Houston music scene as a whole.
It's difficult to criticize the local football franchise. Aside from the nagging little things like winning championships, the Texans have done nearly everything to perfection, particularly when it comes to fans. The tailgate experience at the home stadium is routinely lauded as the best in the NFL. The team possesses the league's record for consecutive sellouts. It ranks No. 5 among all NFL franchises in profitability, according to Forbes.
Sadly, though, the Texans have faltered mightily when scheduling music as entertainment. As a fan, I've had to sit through Run-DMC minus Run, which I guess is just -DMC. I endured Amish befriender Vanilla Ice during one halftime show, and even Smashmouth to the stadium earlier this season.
The opportunity being missed here is that a captive audience is being wasted with nostalgia acts. As the Texans brass has done so well in the past, it's time to put Houston first and showcase promising local musicians during the pregame and halftime events, bands that work hard but need more awareness from listeners outside of their normal circles.
As someone who's been to nearly every home game since the first, take it from me when I say there are plenty of butts in seats between the second and third quarters. Not everyone rushes to line up for a stall or urinal at halftime. Even if only half the stadium is on hand for a mid-game concert, it's immediately the largest audience many of our city's bands have played to.
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The city deserves this as much as the musicians. I am about as certain that Arian Foster is gonna fall forward for an extra yard on every carry as I am that fans -- especially the male ones who catcall the Texans cheerleaders with regularity -- will go berserk for a halftime set by DJ Ill Set or BLSHS' Michelle Miears. Imagine Free Radicals turning the place out with a fun, instrumental set. Any of therapperswho share their opinions of the Texans games via Twitter every week would be excellent choices.
And, while we're at it, go ahead and use some local music for those dance-cam and kiss-cam bits, too. Maybe mix in a little Venemous Maximus when the defense storms onto the field.
The winner of this year's contest will be chosen at the discretion of the Houston Texans. There's a lot of talent in this city. Of course it will be difficult to not choose some cute little eight-year-old from Baytown who sings like Mariah Carey; not the Christmas-tree-lighting Mariah, but the "Visions of Love" version. Or could you really say no to the Tomball housewife who lights up every karaoke outing and yearns for the big spotlight?
I say, this time, yes, you must. Make the difficult choice, Houston Texans, by allowing Kam Franklin to soar and boast to her fellow Houstonians the level of talent they may not realize is out there, working in clubs and trying to grow what might be the best Houston music scene in decades.
And let that precede more love for the locals who, in turn, love the Texans. For Ice's sakes, Robert Van Winkle is a Cowboys fan and he got an invite. If Francis Scott Key is the key to opening more doors for area bands like Franklin's, then she's clearly the woman for this job.
Kam Franklin and the Suffers perform with the Tontons and Lee Fields & the Expressions at the Red Bull Sound Select showcase Friday night at Warehouse Live. Doors open at 8 p.m.; RSVP to redbullsoundselect.com.
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