Better Than Ezra, Papa Grows Funk House of Blues December 20, 2012
About 30 minutes into Better than Ezra's set, vocalist Kevin Griffin, clad in a black button-down and jeans, wiped a bit of sweat from his brow and told the crowd, "This is the second track off our album Deluxe," drawing fans into a frenzy and livening up an audience that, for a song or two, had been a bit too chatty.
Has it really been 17 years since "Good" got BTE national exposure? Judging by how animated the crowd became as Griffin crooned at the crowd and bassist Tom Drummond kept the bass line going, it still has quite the audience, all of whom were ready to hop around as the soundtrack to their twenties resounded throughout HOB Thursday night.
The entire evening was a throwback to the '90s, with plenty of good music -- some of which was recorded during the 2000s, though we'll let that slide. Too much beer, far too much cologne and a lot of people who were ready to relive their pasts made for a relatively rowdy crowd, but things never got out of hand.
BTE performed plenty of their original songs, but their set was peppered with a few covers as well. From Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" to Macklemore's "Thrift Shop," the Louisiana-based trio kept fans smiling and cheering. They also performed ZZ Top's "La Grange" and gave the self-proclaimed worst ad-lib of Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" ever.
A lot of it was clearly unrehearsed, and the band was just having a good time onstage while playing around with the audience. The moments may have been off the cuff, but both BTE and the fans enjoyed every second of it.
This was the fourth year that BTE has come through Houston during Christmastime, and it won't be their last.
Before BTE, the New Orleans-based five piece Papa Grows Funk got the crowd moving with a 45-minute-long jam session that could have lasted hours, and the crowd would have been fine with it.
PGF made the short list for Grammy consideration this year for this year's Needle in the Groove, which BTE's Drummond produced. Just one song into their set, it's clear why the National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences might be taking notice.
Hopefully, both Papa and Ezra make their way back to Houston soon. If BTE make good on their plans to release an eighth studio album in 2013, we may see them even sooner than next Christmas.
Personal Bias: Funk and '90s music? Count me in.
Overheard In the Crowd: "It smells like a mixture of crop dusting and cologne in here."
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