Saturday: Main Street Block Party at The Island

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Check out our slideshow of fans and bands at the Main Street Block Party.

Eric Dean had something to prove to Houston after his Montrose Winter Social flop last month. Dean did as he promised, and delivered with the 2nd Annual Main Street Block Party. The weather was great, the lineup was diverse, and the the five venues were in such close proximity that both performers and audience could move fluidly.

The Block Party had a miscellany of performers, ranging from H-town hip-hop legends like Point Blank, to out of towners like the chamber rock bandEngland In 1819, who came from Baton Rouge with fancy suits and a French horn.

For the first half of the day, I hung around the Mink. It was the first time I'd been there since the White Mystery show last September, the night of the dramatic buy-out. Since I arrived long before the crowds woke up, I got to see Harold Borup as they played to a nearly empty room like it was my own private show. I was the only person upstairs besides the band members' girlfriends and friends. They still played with the energy of dark, packed house. I appreciated that. Their CD was passed to me at Mango's and I've been listening to it off and on for a few months. It didn't sound as post rocky as the CD. There were more vocals and shorter tracks. Drummer and singer Jonathan Fleissner really impressed me. I'm looking forward to seeing more from them with Co-Pilot on February 4th.

I also got to see White Crime and Muhammadali, bands I'm always happy to see on festival lineups. Since acquiring an extra dummer and guitarist, Muhammadali is starting to look like a jam band. And it never ceases to amaze me how they can draw a crowd even in an awkward time slot like 4:05 p.m.

Outside of the Pachinko Hut I saw Punk Rock Project, a group of old school punks who now have families but are sticking to their roots. The guys brought back memories of Fitzgerald's in the good ol' days, when they hosted real punk rock shows. I was surprised to find out from April Brem Patrick that besides a random house show, this was their first time performing together.

After a BBQ break I wanted to catch as much hip-hop as I could. Unfortunately the Pachinko Hut performers all got moved to downstairs at the Mink. It was hard to stay cramped in the tiny space next to the stairs to the Backroom and the bathrooms.

Nevertheless, I caught the tail end of Renzo's entertaining set-seriously, see this guy sometime as soon as possible-and then waited for ill Liad's performance with legendary Houston South Park Coalition member, Point Blank. iLL Liad didn't show, though, so Point Blank did his own set. He told the 30 people standing in the room to travel as much as possible and to always represent Houston wherever we went. He'd just come back from Australia and is going to Helsinki next. I didn't think I'd be getting advice from Point Blank The Bull. -- Allison Wagoner

"We're typically a solid four hour band," said Unicorn Milk frontman Black Cassidy, as he wrapped up a grunge-metal experiment he noted hadn't been given a title yet. The quartet then launched into a 15 minute version of "A Good Friend is Hard To Know", that saw Cassidy ramble over what sounded to be a poor mimicry of The Beatles "Blackbird."

As the afternoon went on the acts became a more music-centric bunch with fewer budding stand-up routines on display. Shadowhound turned out an inspired, albeit brief, revival of Sex Pistols tinged "stoner pop" to an enthusiastic crowd at Big Top, but stole the audience's hearts more effectively when singer Casey Horn rushed off stage to his mother after the set, greeting her with a sweaty hug and smile.

It was a rough going for more established outfits like Blackie Dammet and Square and Compass. With considerable guitar chops, Blackie singer Darin Lee did his best Chris Cornell impression throughout the set, growling his way through several bass-driven tunes, and invoking head bobbing from even the most speculative arms folded bar-goers in the back. But with the crowd slowly filtering in and growing bored, it wasn't clear if they'd be willing to vibe with anything that kept them interested for longer than fifteen minutes.

And like the many of the early afternoon's Main St. bar hoppers, we at Aftermath have to admit to experiencing a bit of fatigue ourselves -- that is, until we saw Abraham Rodriguez. Holding it down as the sole guitarist for the college band Amorette, Rodriguez stole our attention as the trio treated The Pachinko Hut to a 30-minute exercise of spacy, winding tunes and heavy drumming.

All things considered, Aftermath felt pretty strong about finding a talent like Amorette's in the early hours of the festival. Here's to hoping Main Street Block Party promoter Eric Dean can continue to find strong talents, and help out a view more deserving guys like Rodriguez. -- Ricardo Rivera

Around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, I easily found a parking spot near the Mink. The Main Street Block Party had been going on all day, and although bands were to be playing for the most part non-stop until about 2 a.m., the crowd seemed to be thinning.

Then, I walked down to Big Top. Although it couldn't be seen from the outside, Big Top was packed, as was the case with most of the other bars involved in Main Street Block Party. My outlook on my night quickly changed.

Adorable pop rock band Driver F was blaring from inside Big Top. Point Blank the Bull was spinning hip-hop tunes at the Pachinko Hut. Chase Hamblin, the last act to play at Natachee's is not a personal favorite, but the fans present were gratefully bobbin' their heads to his tunes.

Back at the Big Top, I caught my overall favorite act of the night: Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man. They had an energy that was incomparable to any of the other acts that night. Next up was Continental Club where Caddywompus was wrapping up their set to an unsurprisingly big and rowdy crowd. But, the headliner, What Made Milwaukee Famous, was the big draw and they delivered, covering Wings' "Let 'Em In" and ending the set with two of their more popular hits from the album Trying to Never Catch Up.

All in all, the crowd was a bit thinner than last year with a varied lineup attracting a range of fans, but the turnout improved as the night progressed. -- Alexa Crenshaw

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