Keep Calm // Fight Cancer Benefit for Pam Robinson Feat. The Tons, The Suffers, New York City Queens, Wild Moccasins, Featherface, Second Lovers and The Manichean Walters September 6, 2013
When push comes to shove, the music community does its best to stick together as much as possible. Whether a band needs a place to sleep, gear gets stolen, or bills need to be paid, sometimes it seems to be the only place with an "all for one, one for all" mentality.
In August, news broke that beloved Walters owner Pam Robinson had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer after she went in to the doctor with complaints of back pains. But her positive resilience never wavered, and with the help of Walters' staff and Houston's music scene, the weekend-long "Keep Calm // Fight Cancer" kicked off on Friday.
Though the weekend lasted the entire weekend, sadly Rocks Off was only able to make it out for one night. Even so, Friday's lineup was so extensive that the $10 cover fee didn't feel like quite enough for the amount of acts I was able to see.
The all-local bill started with an acoustic set from The Manichean, before Second Lovers and Featherface took the stage.
"We want to thank Pam for running such an amazing venue, and thank you all for being here," said Featherface guitarist/vocalist Kenny Hopkins before the band jumped into their single "I Saw You Dancing."
The band also offered to give a free copy of their album, Actual Magic, to anyone who bought $10 worth in raffle tickets.
Those tickets, which were being sold for $5 apiece, bought a chance to win a gift certificate from various restaurants and bars around town, including Laurenzo's, El Tiempo Cantina, Antidote/Poison Girl and Grand Prize. There were also numerous concert posters, records and merch for locals such as Roky Moon & Bolt and Knights of the Fire Kingdom, while local photographer Todd Spoth donated a stack of prints.
Of course, the raffle was just one way to give back to Robinson.
After Wild Moccasins performed an energetic set that got the crowd dancing (with a little help from singer/keyboardist Zahira Gutierrez, who had to do a little coaxing), Mark C. Austin jumped onstage to announce that any poster could be bought out right for the right price.
"We want to raise as much money as possible," said Austin. "We have a lot of good stuff for sale, including T-shirts, so let's dig deep and give to a great cause."
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In all, more than 30 posters were donated to the silent auction, including silkscreen art and concert prints by Give Up, Shelby Hohl and Tim Dorsey, in addition to signed promo posters from acts such as Best Coast, Dr. Dog and Tame Impala.
But the auction didn't end there. Gift certificates and vouchers could be bid on for things like a session at Old Crow Tattoo, Cutloose Salon, Ibiza, Ikea and Cactus Music. Other prizes, such as one year's supply of Katz Coffee and tastings at 13 Celsius and Underbelly, could be won.
But despite all of the potential winnings, I'm most interested to find out which lucky bidder was able to snag the one year of free admission to any show put on by Pegstar (and yes, that includes a pair of tickets to Free Press Summer Fest in 2014.)
By the time New York City Queens take the stage, the crowd seems to have almost doubled in size as they switched between playing new and old tracks during their set, before handing the torch to the Suffers.
"This is our first time playing at Walters," said Suffers front woman Kam Franklin. "But we love what Pam has done for Houston, so we want to dedicate 'Good Day' to her."
But the evening wouldn't have felt complete without an electrifying performance from The Tontons, who topped the bill on Friday evening.
Though Rocks Off was only able to attend one evening, the benefit continued through the weekend and hosted bands such as Black Congress and Bury the Crown on Saturday, as well as The Last Starfighter and Safe Haven on Sunday.
Frankly, it wouldn't be surprising if Walters raised its goal of $5,000 on the first night. On Saturday afternoon, Kat Keeter, who works on the club's booking and management team, announced via Twitter that more than 400 Houstonians passed through the doors on Friday evening alone.
We're proud of you, Houston.
The Crowd: Houstonians from all over the city: men, women, the young and not-so-young, and surprisingly, a lot of women wearing high heels.
Overheard In the Crowd:"Someone smells like Taco Bell." I'm not exactly sure what that means, and I'm glad.
Random Notebook Dump:Nearly every band that played teased new material, and it all sounded so amazing. Let's just hope Houston can handle this much goodness without imploding.
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