New festivals seem to be popping up as soon as there's a space and a city to house them. For In Bloom, the former festival known as FPSF and before that, Free Press Summer Fest, things look promising for year one. With headlining sets from Beck and Martin Garrix, the festival boasts a pretty robust lineup for a first year festival. even if it's just essentially a re-branding of a former one.
As FPSF did every year before, In Bloom will host a strong run of local talent including Houston's Velveteen Echo. While you might not know the indie rock band very well, that's pretty understandable seeing as how they're the newest act on the festival this year. The Houston Press sat down with singer and guitarist Lauren Warthen to get some insight on who they are, where they're going, and what they have planned for the festival.
Most bands that hop on festivals have been slugging it out for a while in the indie rock circuit, though Velveteen Echo hasn't been a band long enough to really be finding that route. The band's name has always been a curious one, so much so that it seemed an explanation of it was in order.
Explains Warthen, "When Chris Couri and I started recording music together, he would run the vocals through a three-foot tall spring reverb tank that created a warm, luxurious echo. We began brainstorming band names and I listed dozens of words that described the lush effect. I tested combinations of words from the list and pieced the band name together like a puzzle."
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And when it comes to how long the band has been together, it was something worth finding out, as many bands that make their way onto festivals can be either really new or have been around a good while. "The band started in the Fall of 2016 when Chris offered to accompany me on drum machine and keys at a house show. The resulting performance was so dreamy that we started recording demos of my songs and trying to book shows," recalls Warthen.
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The music of Velveteen Echo seems to mirror that of bedroom pop acts like Colleen Green mixed with shoe gaze acts like My Bloody Valentine. While Warthen insists of different influences, it is notable that she plays guitar in similar fashion to how Valentine's Kevin Shields does, riding the tremolo bar with each brush of the strings. "At the time we started we were both listening to dream pop duo Beach House and the psych rock band Melody's Echo Chambers, so all of our vocals and instruments became washed in layers of delay. I love the surfy syrupy sound of riding the tremolo bar, I haven't considered playing another way. Using a pedal to digitally mimic tremolo doesn't seem as fun," remarks Warthen.
And as far as released music goes, the four piece has taken two songs pretty far without any larger release out. Where many bands would form, practice, and drop a record pretty quick; Velveteen Echo have survived with just a demo of the song "Grey" and a single and video for the song, "Do You." Says Warthen, "This Spring or Summer we are anticipating the release of our first E.P.; Submarine. We're excited to be working with talented sound engineer Ty Robbins, and it is an eclectic sample of our best vibes, shoe gaze inspired pop and moody surf songs."
The band's appearance at In Bloom will mark their first foray into the festival world. When asked what she thinks we should expect from their appearance at the festival she replies, "We always keep it interesting. All I can say is to be braced for a mood altering performance that throws you into a fit of existential swaying and tears. Mayhap a fog machine, mayhap a t-shirt cannon, you'll have to check us out and see for yourself."
You can listen to Velveteen Echo through the band's Bandcamp page and follow all of their links through their website. You can catch the band in person tonight at the black box at The Secret Group with Caroline Says, Pollen RX, and Rose Ette. After that, you can catch them perform at In Bloom on Saturday March 24. The all ages two day festival will host performances from Beck, Lil Uzi Vert, Broken Social Scene, Explosions In The Sky, and many many more. Tickets run between $79 and $299, with gates opening at 11 a.m.