Friday Night: Holy Fiction, Finnegan & The Shallows At Fitz

The Canvas Waiting, Holy Fiction, Finnegan, The Shallows Fitzgerald's February 11, 2011

We're probably preaching to the choir, but were you at Fitzgerald's Friday? What a show... Oh, you were upstairs? Well, you missed out on a diverse consortium of musicians from around town that rocked our faces off. But don't worry; all the bands will play again, and soon.

First up were the Shallows, a Houston-based four piece with a gritty, bluesy feel. Put more succinctly, they sound like the White Stripes and the Black Keys had a sexy baby. Yes, seriously. Far too few people were there when the Shallows took the stage, but nearly three-quarters through their set, enough people showed up that their voices didn't go unheard.

Their music, which is available for a free download on the band's Bandcamp page, is an ideal mix of spacey rock and grungy blues. If it sounds like much of it was recorded in a church, it's because it was - Houston's Second Baptist Church, to be specific.

The pipe-organ keyboard effect, which was recorded on a real pipe organ but performed on a keyboard during live shows for obvious reasons, made it feel like we were watching an episode of Memphis Blues, and the singers' similar voices (though the backup vocalist's is coarser) blended together nicely.

These native twentysomethings are years beyond where they ought to be musically and are eager to book more shows, so we're looking forward to watching them progress, though we aren't sure how they can get much better.

Finnegan took the stage next, and before they were even finished with the sound check, the downstairs section of Fitz's was packed to the brim. While you might not have heard of or seen Finnegan yet, you're probably familiar with some of the band members. Darin and Taylor Lee of the Literary Greats, cellist Val Young and Sara Van Buskirk make up the nearly-too-talented group, which is why so much hype already surrounds them. And rightfully so.

Intricate harmonies and duet-style vocals, in which Taylor Lee and Buskirk seem to speak ever so delicately to one another, are backed by elaborate melodies that range from eclectic, upbeat indie-rock to slow, pleasant-sounding ballads, one of which is about life as a musician on the road, missing friends and family. Even if you've never been in a band, when you hear it, you can find a way to relate.

By the end of their set, Finnegan had the crowd wrapped around their collaborative finger. They asked the sound guy whether there was time for one more song and were denied, but boos and jeers from the crowd convinced him otherwise and Fitz's managed to keep its customers happy.

Finnegan told us their debut album will be out in March. Until then, the band plans to play plenty of shows and, if you become a fan of the group on Facebook, you can hear a few rough demos, too.  

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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever