Camera Cult, Hank & Cupcakes, Say Girl Say, Sphynx Houston House of Creeps February 27, 2015
It's not every day that you get to catch the first-ever live performance of what could be Houston's next big act, but I was lucky enough to see Camera Cult's debut on Friday, February 27 at House of Creeps. The trio, who formed on New Year's Eve 2014, opened the night with a 30-minute set in what would end up being the tamest HHOC event I've ever been present for.
However, despite the blistering cold, the main room was packed full of people dancing and bobbing their heads to music that they've likely never heard, and it was pretty damn impressive.
Camera Cult is composed of David Gonzalez, Nicco Martinez and Ricky J. Vasquez, whom you might know from his work with Houston's own RIVERS. When glancing at these young men's fresh faces, you might not anticipate how smooth they are. However, the trio has managed to tether together an interesting sound that oozes the dance vibes of Chromeo, the self-assuring funk of James Brown and the poppy synth compositions from all of your favorite John Hughes soundtracks.
This might be why, at the end of the set, the room was full of the kind of smiles and cheers you might witness for a band with more mileage and a bigger following. Regardless of the why, it's been awhile since Houston was introduced to a fresh act that can hold the attention of a room full of strangers as well as Camera Cult was able to.
Directly following Camera Cult, Hank & Cupcakes began setting up and handing out 3-D glasses to everyone in the crowd. When asked why the glasses were needed, drummer and one-half of the act Sagit "Cupcakes" Shir replied, "We're kind of a 3-D band."
Shir and her husband, Ariel "Hank" Scherbacovsky, are an electropop bass-and-drum duo based out of Brooklyn, but they hail from Tel Aviv, Israel. Because I wasn't aware that the two were married at the time, watching them interact was every synonym I could think of for "adorable" and "fun," and the name Hank & Cupcakes felt so insanely appropriate.
At times, Hank would walk over to Cupcakes and kiss her on the cheek, while at others their energy was simply so electric that one couldn't help falling in love with everything they had to offer. The duo's sound and style are curated in ways that match one another, yet never felt forced or disingenuous.
Performing tracks off their new album, CA$H 4 GOLD, Hank & Cupcakes feel like the perfect balance between the Ting Tings and Matt & Kim, plus all the latter's edge and endless positivity.
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Next came Houston-based Say Girl Say, who gave the crowd a chance to regroup from Hank & Cupcake's high-energy set. Though their sound was more subdued, the soft change of pace kept the crowd dancing while serving as a bold reminder of just how diverse and skilled Houston's music scene is.
Say Girl Say consists of drummer Luke Odom as well as multi-instrumentalists Brigette Yawn and Suzan Zaghmouth, who both sang and played ukulele for an hour-long set. But this isn't some Zooey Deschanel, quirky-girl bullshit. Instead, the trio have pooled their collective zen and talent together to create tracks that showcase ethereal lyrics and killer harmonies. It's not something that can be done easily, either.
Perhaps what was most intriguing, however, is how full their sound was with two ukuleles and minimal drums. That said, the group has announced that they recently finished recording their new album via their Facebook page, so it will be interesting to see what they can create in a studio setting.
It wasn't long, however, before Austin-based Sphynx took over and kicked everything up a few notches. At the start of their set, the trio each ditched their shirts in exchange for a white leather jacket, a smoking jacket, and a faux fur jacket, donning skintight jeans and bare chests for the entirety of their set.
Because the group boasts an electro-pop sound that feels both retro and something entirely before its time, their self-described "space glam" genre couldn't be more fitting. That said, it was hard not to get sucked in and start moving, which seemed to be their main (if not only) goal of the night.
About three songs into their set, they transformed The Outfield's "Your Love" into their own, and won over just about everyone in the crowd. However, my personal favorite of their set was "Hunger," the first single from their upcoming album, Golden Garden.
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Luckily, the group will return to Houston next Saturday at Fitzgerald's with the Beans and Walker Lukens, where you can indulge in their space-inspired dance party yourself.
The Crowd: An eclectic mix of fashionable twentysomethings dancing their asses off to keep warm.
Random Notebook Dump: HHOC is the only music venue in Houston that can get away with having a trash-can fire and yet manage not to seem sketchy as fuck.
Overseen In the Crowd: Two naked baby dolls were placed in a variety of interesting sex positions throughout the evening. The show was at House of Creeps, after all.