Houston Music

Selling T-Shirts For Two Sweaty Rock Bands Is Exactly as Sexy as It Sounds

It's barely 10 p.m. and, instead of watching thelastplaceyoulook perform, my head is inside of a Tupperware container. I'm sifting through T-shirts, looking for a woman's small.

The Houston-based five-piece is only halfway through their set at Stubb's in Austin, and two twentysomethings have already approach the band's merch table. I'm on the clock. Ass, gas, grass... Or merch? It really is true that no one rides for free.

"Where did they say they're from," one of the young ladies asks, as I glance up from the bin, "Dallas?"

I try to mask my contempt and force a smile. "Houston," I respond.

Regardless of where the band is from, these two ladies are sold on their music. They've only heard four songs, and they already want two shirts and an album. My job is to get them their goods in a timely manner, which is proving difficult. This is about the time I realize that, just maybe, I should have organized the tubs of T-shirts before the show started.

Going on tour is a grueling endeavor. Having traveled with tlpyl once before, I had an idea of what was expected of me -- help carry gear inside, load the stage, get out of the way, set up the merch booth then break it all down and get it back in the trailer at the end of the night -- but this time had a few more perks, namely free or discounted foodstuffs.

For the past few weeks, the quintet has been on tour with their San Antonio friends, in support of Nothing More's self-titled album, which was released about three weeks ago. This past Thursday night, the bands performed in Austin, followed the next day by a show in San Antonio at Sam's Burger Joint, a food-and-music fusion venue.

Nothing More's new album is, in a word, ambitious. It's 17 tracks of in-your-face rock music, peppered with radio-friendly singles alongside tracks with heavy guitar riffs, pronounced bass lines and incessantly energetic percussion. It's the kind of album that makes you want to buy a new stereo system. The instrumentation is supplemented with soaring vocal lines and electronic influences on an few tracks as well, such as "Christ Copyright."

On "Sex & Lies," vocalist Justin Nava of tlpyl shares a vocal spot alongside NM's Jonny Hawkins. During live renditions of the song Thursday and Friday night, Nava would join Nothing More onstage, followed by the rest of his band as the song eventually culminated into a chant akin to a pub fukk of drunken sailors.

From behind the merch booth, I watched, listened and tried to help the bands sell a few albums both nights. We stayed at the venues long after everyone else had gone home, then we went back to NM bassist Daniel Oliver's house, where the bands stayed up even later, drinking beers, swapping road stories and sharing a few laughs.

But being on the road is a lot more work than most realize. Like most, I used to think, "You play guitar every night? Real tough life." Spending even just a few days with a group of hard-working individuals, however, you quickly realize that, while passion for music is definitely an important aspect of touring, there are far more intricacies, sleepless nights, early sound checks and much more heavy lifting than you might think.

From an outsider's perspective, it helps that the music was great, the bands friendly and the eats tasty. Count me in anytime, boys.

More photos from San Antonio on the next page.

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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever