This member of Rocks Off has never felt so proud of his city, especially after last night's Houston Press Music Awards showcase. He was wont to call it "his" city just a few years back, commuting back and forth into the Inner-Loop breach to review show after show from the suburbs down Highway 288. He had always felt that he perhaps wasn't quite getting what was going on, or that he just wasn't built for it. But Sunday, as we walked down the streets of downtown and saw roving bands walking down the street carrying amps and guitar cases that he fully felt that he was home. Musicians - our musicians - were everywhere, playing music influenced by the things we see every day. The city's good and bad sides, all of our intertwined social circles, even the regions oppressive heat have all helped create what it is Aftermath found himself ensconced in scarcely 12 hours ago.
Our day started inside the cave-like depths of Isis, watching Born Liars belt out a shouty and gritty set in front of friends and fans. The band has been followed by KIAH Channel 39 this week, and there were television cameras coming uncomfortably close. Something tells us the footage won't do the boys justice, getting watered down by sallow TV editing and pseudo-MTV flair. Live and on delicious vinyl, then Liars are a tight and dirty group. After a quick smoke and gossip break outside with the likes of Beau and Josh from the Homopolice and Best Bassist nominee Nick Gaitan, we stepped back into the frigid confines of Isis for Ryan Scroggins and the Trenchtown Texans. Scroggins has been a constant in music collection since his days with Los Skarnales. Plus, he works at the tattoo shop we get ink done at, so it's always strange to hear his Hammond organ live without the accompaniment of a tattoo gun's soothing buzz. A brief stop over at the VIP party at the Rice Lofts was a welcome respite from the street heat. We run pretty hot as it is, and the angry weather didn't help. (We apologize now if you slipped in our sweat.) At one point we looked around the balcony at the Lofts and realized that pretty much every major scene in Houston was standing around in one way or the other. Houston noise, indie-pop and hip-hop could be seen dragging on smokes and drinking the free booze. We remarked out loud that if the balcony were to collapse and kill us all, Houston would be a pretty quiet place. Of all the hallmarks of Houston music, none is getting to be more iconic and unique as seeing Michael LaCour, a.k.a. B L A C K I E, screaming over his industrial beats and throwing himself into the assembled throngs like a one-man mosh pit. His show at Dean's Credit Clothing found him climbing his amps and jumping onto the venue's bar as if it were an inviting skyscraper ledge. With each show we see, the man seems to get more frantic and feral. It's always endearing to see LaCour out in town smiling and drinking, away from his visceral stage show. Some real Clark Kent/Superman-style shit going on.
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In our mind, no one is keeping the spirit of metal alive as much as Metavenge. The young lads, not even of legal drinking age, look like a gang of wild children, with hellacious manes of hair and menacing fret work. Hiiting the stage at Dean's just right after B L A C K I E, Metavenge brought to mind the days when Public Enemy and Anthrax shared a festival stage. Comparing the Metavenge boys to Kill 'Em All-era Metallica is starting to seem like trivial shorthand. They are honestly coming into their own, and with each show the voices are getting huskier and the guitars more ferocious. Rumor around the venue was that RCA Records was sniffing around the boys for an imminent signing. This news, along with the scuttlebutt about B L A C K I E being in contact with Vice Records, should make this next year quite the adventure.
Buxton closed down Isis with a sweaty and pearl-snapped set, easily one of the nights most sought after events. At one point we spied from our perch on the stairs, members of most every indie band in town jumping along to the La Porte band's galloping Americana. Buxton truly is a band's band, drawing in most every other musician in town. The show ended with a huddled-up singalong that somehow featured the owner of Little Big's Bryan Caswell in the mix with some Tontons, Young Mammals and News On The Marchers. It was one of those moments we'll be talking about in ten years when Buxton is headlining Austin City Limits. As Aftermath walked to our car, we mused out loud that nights like this give us hope for a downtown music scene, where there is real life going on during the day, and bands blowing out our eardrums at night. We love the 'Trose and the surrounding neighborhoods as much as ever, but live music set inside our massive skyline would be beautiful. Driving home, we were overjoyed with a new hope we got just by looking at everyone united and supporting each other's boutique sounds, and we were even more excited over the prospect of waking up the next day to keep doing our part to support the scene, be they leather-clad, indie-swooning or hip-hopping.