Something Fierce Mango's April 1, 2011
There are terms in music that cause audible groans and visual displeasure at their mere mention, and while these vary from person to person, some are fairly universal. Emo, yacht rock, muzak, and pop punk all fall into these categories.
Something Fierce is certainly both punky and poppy, but there's absolutely no reason that this band could make anyone's stomach turn. Punk was laced with pop long before Blink 182 splashed it across MTV, with The Clash creating albums like Give 'Em Enough Rope practically eons earlier. Aftermath has a healthy affinity for Strummer's crew, so it was with great pleasure that we headed to Mango's on Friday night to watch the local trio of Stephen Garcia, Niki Sevven, and Andrew Keith release their third Something Fierce full-length, Don't Be So Cruel.
When we arrived, Fat Tony was manically DJing songs from his phone, playing snippets and singing along. Visiting from College Station, The Hangouts took the stage first. Once upon a 2007, this quartet put out a split seven-inch with Something Fierce. The band blasted through a brash set of songs about drinking Sparks, roller derby girls, getting drunk, rebelling against authority, and the like.
A tattoo-laden Niki Pistols fronts the band, and she bounced and stomped around the stage in her leopard print tights, ranting and raving through the buzzing and poppy guitar riffs provided by band-mate Atarimatt. Their So-Cal pre-hardcore punk rock is abrasive yet accessible, harsh enough for the punks but poppy enough for the kids that just need something to shout.
As Tony skipped from track to track and gear changed over, we prepared for our first Wicked Poseur appearance since the Antidote third year anniversary party several months ago. Originally a bedroom project of Arthur Bates, who also puts in work as vocalist for The Energy, the anti-pop stumbling songs have been given extra weight with the addition of Young Mammals' Cley Miller providing an additional guitar.
Wicked Poseur tracks rely on a drum machine for the percussive element, giving the songs a beat akin to heavy, plodding steps that almost feel too slow for the music, but by gosh it works. The room was covered in the music, which was played at an almost Stooges-esque volume level. To sum up the Wicked Poseur sound, it's a very Suicide-style of music thanks to the drum machines and Bates' almost chanted, delay-coated vocals, made complete by a heavy does of acidic guitar fuzz from Miller.
When Something Fierce finally took the stage around midnight, their infectious and catchy tunes quickly quelled the laments of our upcoming 7 a.m. shift. There's probably not another band that wears its influences so brazenly on its sleeves while still managing to create quality original music. The Something Fierce numbers are heavily beholden to The Clash and The Buzzcocks, and frontman Stephen Garcia has stated that Don't Be So Cruel was made with a 1979 feel behind it.
Despite being drenched in familiar tones, the songs the trio creates always manage to sound fresh. The arrangements are smart, and the hints and flourishes employed signal a band that really knows both the sound they want and how to embellish it without breaking from its foundation.
It's sort of silly to declare that these songs translate very well to a live setting - what punk band doesn't, after all - but Something Fierce brings an undeniable energy to the stage. They're clearly having a lot of fun, and that in turn makes the already bright tunes something that cannot be rejected. It's the little things, like Garcia breaking a string during the opening chords of Teenage Ruins - only the band's second song - but simply playing the whole ditty anyways before stopping to switch guitars.
The trio ripped through an eleven-song set, sprinkling in some of the new Don't Be So Cruel tracks with seasoned mainstays like "Hey Houston," "Modern Girl" and "On Your Own" before finishing with "Come For The Bastards." Concertgoers hopped along in raucous fashion, with a few crowd members hoisted in the air on several occasions. When all was said and done, smiles abounded and we were more than happy to add another notch to Houston's belt of quality local releases.
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Personal Bias: We're quick to admit to Something Fierce fandom. One of the better bands in town, they've managed to gain a fan base that spreads not only across the country, but also throughout Europe.
The Crowd: Punks with patches, and punks without - Chris Wertz of Hollywood Black in the latter category. Show regulars, new kids, and Chris Longwood from Sugar Hill. But not enough people for a band this good. Criminally under-attended.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I miss The Oven."
Random Notebook Dump: Local photographer Jack Potts of Bohemian Photography is here with his two sons, who both shot The Hangouts set. They're eleven and eight.