It’s never easy to be the new kid in town but Houston’s The Outcrowd has managed to smoothly join the Houston music community during one of the hardest times for musicians. They will celebrate the release of their second EP, The Outcrowd Vol. 2on Friday, August 13 at Big Star Bar.
“We’ve been able to play shows with some really cool folks,” says guitarist and singer Joe Cullar. “I honestly was worried about being a new band, it's like being a new kid at a different high school but I was totally wrong. Everybody has been very welcoming and supportive and doing what they can to support us, cause we are doing all we can to support them.”
Vol. 2 serves up some good old fashioned rock and roll with all the feels of the kind of songs that used to permeate the airwaves when rock and roll was still king, an effect Cullar attributes to growing up in the age of radio when artists like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen were on heavy rotation.
“We like having a fun time. I’ve always loved big, loud guitars and so have the rest of the guys. We bonded over big rock and roll.”
The Outcrowd formed just prior to the pandemic when Cullar and Steve Cummins on drums began playing for fun. They decided that since they were almost a band, they could try their luck at some open mikes around town.
The two were joined by bassist Matt Garcia and began practicing intensely for their first official show but then COVID-19 shut down all the venues and prospects of playing live.
They then added Dr. Joe Holland on keys and created their own COVID bubble dedicated to practicing their songs in preparation for when the shutdown would end and to record Vol. 2.
In August of 2020, they released Vol. 1, a short collection of original songs that carry the band’s original vision of classic rock with Cullar’s stellar and scratchy vocals complemented well by heavy guitar and bass.
“I think the big difference between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 is the upgraded musicianship and bringing people in to make it a more collaborative effort. We experimented with microphones, new techniques, not new to everybody, but new to us. The main thing we did that I think is important, we focused on each track being a performance.”
The Outcrowd shines on Vol. 2 with the rich instrumentation and layering of storytelling. Songs like “Sandy Ran” tell complete stories with varying levels of intensity within the same track.
Despite forming at a time when most bands are struggling to find stages to play on, The Outcrowd has stayed busy performing around town at Dan Electro's and Shady Acres Saloon.
Listening to Vol. 2 it’s easy to see how this band will only continue to quickly burn up the Houston music scene as they successfully captured their live energy on the tracks and the bands overall energetic yet unpretentious, down home sound.
“That’s a product of lots and lots of quarantine rehearsal,” says Cullar. “I think what you hear is a lot of rehearsal but it's also a desire to go play live. To us, what makes you a band is playing shows.”
The Outcrowd will perform on Friday, August 13 at Big Star Bar, 1005 West 19th, 8 p.m., free.
The Outcrowd Vol. 2 will be available for purchase and streaming on all platforms on August 13.
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.