Saturday's Houston Press Music Awards Showcase was spread out over five areas and some eleven stages, which meant most of our photogs and writers were stationed at one location for most of their day. Our team circled the venues with the help of a few shuttle vans -- with their inquisitive drivers -- some bikes, and feet, to cover ground. Luckily the weather was fair, and we didn't freeze nor burn. That's hard to find at most music festivals.
This member of Rocks Off stayed mostly near the Warehouse Live-dominated space to catch the bands at the concert hall's two stages and Lucky's Pub next door. Though we did venture to all the other venues to see what was shaking. Lucky's Pub was a fun location, with the bands fighting for the attentions of the bar patrons glued to the televisions tuned to heir beloved college football games. In the end the bands just soundtracked the action of the games, and some new fans were probably born.
Saturday was a day of discovery and a reiteration of what makes some of the showcase bands the best in the city. One of the standout sets of the day was the one by The Mighty Orq right at sundown over at Lucky's, all blues, muscle, and rumble. We've only heard online snippets and echoes from stages a few blocks over previously, but we really enjoyed the Orq's set. Maybe our ears are changing, tuning to new-old frequencies.
Los Skarnales of course brought out a "flash-mob" of fans for their mid-afternoon set on the studio stage at Warehouse Live. We've seen this before at Skarnales club and festival dates. A hungry crew comes in, about a hundred-strong for Felipe and the boys, and they sweat and dance for an hour and then they poof vamoose for the rest of the day and scatter out. It's a lovely Houston phenomenon, and one that we can't imagine not seeing at least once a month.
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Later in the evening, the stages at Warehouse were a veritable Best Of Houston Mixtape. There were the Niceguys and Hollywood F.L.O.S.S. gaining new fans left and right from the rock crowds, and everyone else discovering Roky Moon & BOLT! all over again to close out the studio stage at 8 p.m. The BOLTers were in their American Honey record release garb, with lead singer Moon in his wonderful ice cream suit and guitarist Aaron Echegaray in RenFest attire.
On the big ballroom stage, the amazing and brassy Kam Franklin reunited with her Umbrella Man friends for a few songs from their Continental Club residency days. Ryan Scroggins & The Trenchtown Texans came next, smoking out the crowd sonically with new stuff from the band's two new discs, Move To The Country and Folk Devils. Scroggins' music will suck you in and not let you go. Just take a seat.
Closing out the ballroom festivities were quickly-rising modern rock quintet thelastplaceyoulook and the road-weary Tontons. We got to announce both bands from the stage, and had the pleasure of telling the crowd about Rocks Off music editor Chris Gray's move to homier digs, which allowed us the honor of standing on the trademark metal box that LPYL's Nava stands on during shows.
The Tontons arrived back in Houston on Saturday morning after a marathon tour through the southwest states, and drove into town after 23 hours of van-livin'. Lead singer Asli Omar dedicated their set to Gray, who was one of the first local music journos to notice the band as they began their career. They mixed in newer road-tested songs with popular favorites like "Leon." It always makes us nervous when Omar goes barefoot on stages, especially the Warehouse stage, considering that's where Insane Clown Posse was standing just a few weeks ago. Rocks Off isn't sure how much tetanus shots run these days.