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HPMA Bands Reflect Houston's Diversity and Drive

Houston Press Music Awards Concert Featuring Electric Attitude, thelastplaceyoulook, the Suffers & the Tontons Warehouse Live August 7, 2014

The beautiful thing about Houston music has always been how it mirrors our city. It's a little disorderly but uniquely diverse and bursting with energy and soul.

Thursday night at Warehouse Live, the Houston Press Music Awards Concert delivered an eclectic reminder of the strengths of our local scene, with four 2014 nominees (two of them winners Thursday) who were focused and determined to put on a show worth seeing.

Opening the evening were Electric Attitude, a blend of soul, funk and vocals akin to Jack White's. Heavily influenced by the late '70s and early '80s, these guys has been gigging for years with far too little praise from the public for how much talent is can be found in its ranks. The music grooved, got a few members of the crowd dancing and set the tone for an evening full of various local treats.

Performing for the first time since guitarist Derek Young's departure less than a month ago, thelastplaceyoulook faced yet another potential snag with scheduling conflicts for guitarist Richard Sherwood. Luckily, American Fangs' Kenyon White proved an able stand-in.

The Draco Malfoy lookalike kept the riffs coming as the seasoned rock quintet-turned-quartet entertained the crowd with well-known cuts like "Sexy Time," "Rip It Out" and "Band to Save Me," filling the spaces in between with a preview of the sound they've been working toward and now plan to fully embrace. It was more electronically-inclined than much of their previous work, but these gentlemen aren't exactly strangers to change..

After thelastplaceyoulook's performance, HPMA Best Female Vocals winner Kam Franklin sauntered up to the microphone. Her hair was done up in an intricate braid, and she clearly possessed enough swagger to carry her 10-member band by herself. As her voice echoed through the rafters, she danced along the stage as the funky tunes coaxed the crowd into following along.

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Fortunately, the group's strength reaches beyond just vocal prowess. Franklin received plenty of support onstage from the brass section, the strings and some percussion to pull it all together into a cohesive sound, which would have been an impressive feat for a band half the Suffers' size. Given the number of people onstage, it was downright remarkable. Ending their set with "Giver," a favorite of Franklin's mom, the Suffers left no doubt in the mind of attendees about why they're the newest heavy-hitters in H-Town.

Capping off the evening this year's winners for Best Local Recording, the Tontons. As always, vocalist Asli Omar's vocals soared high above guitarist Adam Martinez's guitar riffs as bassist Tom Nguyen and drummer Justin Martinez kept the rhythms and beats going. "Golden," "Pony" and "Syrup," the first song ever written by the ambitious Houston-born indie-rockers, kept the set going into the early-morning hours.

And what better way to begin a Friday in Houston than with some local tunes?

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