Houston Music

The Six Best Houston Bands to See On a First Date

Dating season is quickly approaching, so in our continued efforts to be incredibly useful and not just wildly entertaining (or, given to self-serving hyperbole), we feel compelled to assist all of you who may soon be planning first dates. If you were unaware, Match.com crunched numbers from its own database a couple of years ago to determine that most first dates occur within the month of January. The theory is singles resolve to be more social in the new year and start lining up dates right around the time the last of the black-eyed peas have been consumed.

Your first date must include music. Yes, you should go to a nice restaurant. Food is sensuous, and selecting the right dinner spot will tell your date a lot about you. But movies can’t do that. Even our excellent fine arts scene has limited options at any given time. But live music? We have it in scores. Selecting the right act can get you to date two. Here are a half-dozen we endorse, each hand-picked with diverse dating goals in mind:

It’s hard to put the proverbial finger on MNYNMS. Even the band — Jessica Wahlquist, Lacey Youngblood and Jacob Childs — suggests “you tell us” under the genre heading of its Facebook music page. The band is well-suited for a first date because it may serve as a conversation starter. Every first date needs talking to fill the awkward silence, and MNYNMS' open-to-interpretation music may provide that. The songs are smart blends of soundscapes, vocals and percussion and hearing them live is engrossing, like visiting the abstract art wing of a museum. The best hope is MNYNMS helps open up some dialogue between you and your date on whatever notions spill from your heads following their evocative set.

There’s a risk in bringing your new friend to a Handsomebeast show, which is exactly why you should do it. The risk is you’ll be competing in some fashion with the utter confidence this quintet boasts. And confidence is sexy. Also sexy are the hip-swinging songs the band churns out, with titles like “Exotic Lumberjack” and “Doodoo Bird.” It takes a special kind of assurance to stand on a stage and announce the next jam is called “Doodoo Bird.” Not just anyone can do that. The reward is getting your date to see that you’re confident enough in your own capabilities to sit in the same room with Handsomebeast. If you can dance, too, then get on up and start good-footin’ towards date number two.

You want to show a little class on your first date, right? Not so much that you force the poor soul accompanying you to break out the formal wear on date one. Jazz is a good option for such a date, so we recommend the Art Fristoe Trio as the group to seek out. They’re not too difficult to find, as they have a standing engagement opening the Tuesday Night Jazz Jam at The Flat. Check out this footage from a recent show, shot by Henry Darragh, himself another fine choice for a casual jazz night out. Fristoe (keys/vocals), bassist Tim Ruiz and drummer Richard Cholokian hit their jazzy stride at about the two-minute mark of this video and keep things blissful for the next couple of minutes. If your date can’t appreciate what’s happening here, just lose that number and move onto the next hopeful.

One of the most exciting aspects of the first date is seeing whether there's enough spark to have your respective needles vacillating between nice and naughty. It's fun to wonder whether he might be Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right-Over-There-Is-the-Bedroom. If you're looking for a band to back-track such thrilling possibilities, go with Fear the Poet, featuring front woman Sherita Perez. Dolled up in gorgeous dresses for practically any set she delivers, she looks wholesome as Jane Wyatt. You won't realize until she's sung a few lines that the song she's crooning is titled "S&M." The added bonus of taking in Fear the Poet on a first date is Perez is a skilled, veteran performer who commands the stage; so, if your date's a dud, at least you'll be entertained ‘til it ends.

Time and again, we're told that a keen sense of humor is a crucial to any relationship. It can prove difficult to find musical acts that can convey humor without losing the musicality, but The Real McCoys are among the best at this endeavor here in town at this moment. Songwriter and vocalist Josh Raught wrote in this vein some years ago for his band Ha Ha 90!, an act once described as "most likely to be Judd Apatow's favorite band." He's spent the last half dozen years as a member of Dead Rabbits but has recently teamed with bassist Bill Vanderhaar to resume songwriting that gives us the giggles like Ryan Gosling on the set of SNL. If you think sharing a life can really evolve from sharing a laugh, try to catch The Real McCoys on date night.

Radio Flyer is our choice for the act that will show your date how ready you are to start a family (right from the first date!); nothing says “I wanna have babies with you” like a little red wagon. Andrew Hoskins is the bespectacled singer-songwriter who has performed as Radio Flyer for years now, in between day jobs and raising a growing family of his own. Because he's been there, his songs speak sweetly to married life and parental joys, to all notions, great and small, about the family unit. If you really want Mister or Miss across the table to get the hint, request "Find Yourself," a Radio Flyer original which includes the lyrics, "Find someone who wants to build something, and buy that one a wedding ring."
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.