KTRU Outdoor Show Rice University April 9, 2011
Aftermath had something of a busy Saturday and subsequently missed quite a few good bands at the 20th Annual KTRU Outdoor Show. The rest of Houston, however, didn't.
By the time we arrived, just before Real Estate took to the outside stage, hundreds were already in attendance (and the beer was all but gone), and we couldn't have been happier to see yet another confirmation that there is a demand in our city for live music festivals.
Had half this many people tuned into KTRU on a daily basis for the past few years, the station would likely not be fighting for its survival. But that's something of a moot point now, and still a touchy subject for many, so let's just move on.
Aptly put by a multitude of Houstonians via Twitter, Real Estate's performance made for the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Saturday spent lying on the grass while sipping on Saint Arnold's beer. The Houston-based brewery provided the kegs that were the proverbial cherry-on-top to the afternoon's entertainment.
After Real Estate, Young Mammals began quite a riot inside, as dozens of music-hungry natives crowded the stage and nearly began a mosh pit. Sean Padilla, vocalist and songwriter for the Cocker Spaniels, could have started a riot all by himself as he hopped around to the Mammals' lively, roaring beats and riffs. By the time the Mammals' set reached its loud and energetic finale, his enthusiasm had caught on, and a dozen or so people around him were hopping around, too.
Keep it up, Padilla. We see you at almost every show we attend, and you always help get the crowd going.
Back outside, we were met with perfect weather, at least as far as Houston's climate is concerned. It was slightly overcast, and the wind was blowing just enough to make the humidity bearable.
While it was pleasant outside, listening to music while enjoying air-conditioning is hard to beat in this city. Did we mention Rice University's A/C system is phenomenal? Can we just host concerts on-campus, inside every weekend? Please?
Outside, Mister Heavenly's members began to prepare for their set set, and one Michael Cera, star of such hit movies as Youth in Revolt and Superbad, made his way behind the stage. A couple of girls followed him and asked for a picture, but Cera politely declined, saying that they would have to wait until after the show. Nonetheless, the two girls walked away talking about how cute he was.
Now that's star power, people.
It probably helps that Mister Heavenly's music is damn good, not so much because of Cera but thanks to the other well-known musicians at its helm, but it can't hurt that such a well-liked actor is involved, even if it's only as a traveling guest.
Tragic love ballads set to indie-rock melodies make for something of a simple combination that has, at least in the past few years, proven fruitful, and Mister Heavenly capitalized on the crowd's fervor for the genre.
"Everyone please go watch Fat Tony on the inside stage after this," Cera said from the stage, halfway through Heavenly's set. "He is not a violent man."
We appreciated the actor/musician's attempt to support Houston-grown artists. And those who stuck around for Tony's set, Cera included, were not disappointed.
As per usual, Tony quickly drew the crowd into a frenzy with the help of a vocal looper, a squirt gun and his two colleagues, Smash Bro and DJ iPod Ammo. The squirt gun has been making regular appearances onstage with Tony as of late, and no one seems to mind. Who doesn't want to be just a little wet?
Closing out the evening, Washed Out swept up the crowd in its trancey, chillwave while offering something of a light show to close out the evening. Some of WO's music climbs toward a crescendo in the same way a techno beat builds, but there seems to be a lot more to it.
A hush seemed to fall over the entire crowd. It wasn't the kind of music to talk during; it was the kind of music that grabs you and doesn't let go. It wasn't complicated, either. In fact, it was pretty simple. But four or five simple things going on at the same time make for one hell of a final product.
We closed our eyes, allowing the colors of the lights to flash on our eyelids as we took in the music. We didn't bother watching the performers. Instead, we let your ears guide us and got lost in the music.
The rest of Houston seemed to do the same.
Personal Bias: We really, really wanted to talk to Michael Cera about signing on to make that damned Arrested Development movie. We want it, already!
The Crowd: The lawn looked exactly like a music festival's knoll should - puppies, parents, kiddos, jorts, Converse and a wide array of pixie cuts. It helped that it was a little overcast and just windy enough for the humidity to be tolerable.
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Overheard In the Crowd: Fifteen-year-old girl to her boyfriend, concerning Michael Cera: "I don't think he's hot, but I'd totally fuck him."
Random Notebook Dump: Between Real Estate and Young Mammals, we made our way inside to answer the call of nature. On the way, we caught Fat Tony napping on a couch. Having never seen him do anything but work, perform and repeat, we were a bit surprised to see him in such a state.