The Best Acts at Untapped Houston 2014

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BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL HOUR The technical issues that plagued the Omission Stage for Featherface's set were seemingly resolved by the time Channel 39's Maggie Flecknoe introduced her favorite band from Austin, Bright Light Social Hour. It quickly became apparent that many at the festival came to see the vibrant rock band start their current tour.

Bassist Jack O'Brien cracked a smile during a solo when the crowd started chanting, "Slap da bass! Slap da bass!" The psychedelic keyboards and groovy basslines provided a perfect accompaniment for the bluesy vocals of "Detroit." Most of their set reminded me of the dreamy sounds of My Morning Jacket's EP "Mageetah." Grade-A performance for the gentlemen returning to play November 5. JACK GORMAN

BLSHS Houston's best new band kicked the day off with a solid performance. Walking up as BLSHS started their set, with Michelle Miears' haunting vocals echoing off of the George R. Brown Convention Center, augered a great day. Her bandmates, always good for sporting some awesome Houston shirts, pumped out the complementary 808 beats. Once their catalog starts to get larger, expect BLSHS to start to get some bigger billing. JACK GORMAN

FEATHERFACE The Houston boys' set had a very difficult start. But even broken guitars ("Anybody got a guitar we can borrow?"), a PA pumping out music from a Mexican radio station ("Mas Reggaeton!") and the main speakers seemingly being unplugged did not discourage the psychedelic garage-rockers.

Sadly, it was the day's most disappointing set, not due to the band's energy but because of the equipment failure. It was actually a pretty cool sound, almost like hearing an AM radio playing in an old garage. Once the technical difficulties were resolved, Featherface played a solid set that started with a cover of ABBA's "Fernando." JACK GORMAN

ROBERT ELLIS There's something haunting and lonely about Robert Ellis' music. That made his set, which closed out Untapped's second stage, perfect both as a change of pace and for an October beer festival. Ellis' take on country is tinged with a bit of folk and a bit of bluegrass, and made for downright drinkin' music in every sense of the word; needless to say, his set went hand in hand with all the craft beer the festival was handing out.

While Untapped may not have been quite up to par with Whiskey Wednesdays, the old weekly tradition that former Press staffer Craig Hlavaty mentioned in his introduction, the combination of beer and Ellis' striking twang worked its magic all the same. Ellis relocated to Nashville a couple years back and more recently has been bouncing between Brooklyn and the road, so it was nice to see him onstage in our city again. ANGELICA LEICHT

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LOS SKARNALES Los Skarnales provided Untapped festivalgoers with the most energy of the entire day. Felipe Galvan's interaction with the crowd was incredible as usual, sharing his microphone with fans to sing along and bringing a child onstage with him. She assisted the group by playing the maracas as she was enrolled in "Skarnales day care" for the rest of the group's set.

The crowd chanted along to favorites like "Borracho" and "Una y Otra Vez," as Kam Fraklin from the Suffers even got in on the action and helping out with the vocals towards the end. of their set. JACK GORMAN

THE SUFFERS Is there ever any question that The Suffers will blow it out of the park (or venue, or wherever they happen to be playing)? Not at this point. Untapped scheduled the Houston near-supergroup to play right before the Toadies and, honestly, could have shut the entire thing down right afterward.

It was a pretty impeccable performance. Kam Franklin's vocals seem to grow bigger and bigger with each set, and so does the Suffers' crowd. People really can't get enough of The Suffers, and rightfully so.

Not to mention, it was the cutest thing ever to see the couple of toddlers in the crowd dancing around to the sound of the dancing horns and drum beats, which only added to the allure. ANGELICA LEICHT

TOADIES Todd Lewis and company put on one badass show. No matter how many times you have seen the Toadies, they have never left a crowd disappointed; this was no different. "If you know anything about the Toadies, you know we are huge Blondie fans," Lewis said. "You think I'm fuckin' with you."

The crew then proceeded to slaughter "Heart of Glass" and the crowd sang along with the cover just as well as the other Toadies favorites. Early in the show the barricade began to collapse from pressure of the crowd, and it swiftly reinforced with more steel barricades and security. Lewis had a quote summed up the entire day, "You should be really proud of your city. This is really kickass." JACK GORMAN

TOADIES (Take 2) It has been almost exactly two decades since the the Toadies' breakout album, Rubberneck, landed in the laps of every alt-loving teenager in the country. Yet it seems that somehow, at least based on their Untapped performance, these guys have not aged in the slightest since '94. Sure, they're a little greyer, but time has been most kind to the band's sound.

From the moment the post-grunge pioneers opened up the set -- teased as being canceled by the snarky dude introducing the band -- they were beyond awesome. How one continues to nail a song like "I Come from the Water" after decades of touring-induced vocal abuse is beyond me, but whatever the Toadies are doing to stay preserved in the '90s is working out quite well. The dude in front of me, obviously an original fan, damn near jumped on top of me when they busted out "Possum Kingdom." It seemed a bit over the top to almost smash people to death, but it was easy to understand his reaction.

I kind of wanted to jump up and down like a damned fool too; hearing those old high-school favorites was that exciting. Well, for us olds, anyway. This little one (below), tucked away behind me by a group of protective adults, had been rocking out to the Suffers only an hour or so before. She was passed out the entire Toadies set, giving her parents their turn at rocking out. ANGELICA LEICHT


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