UtopiaFest Preview: Grupo Fantasma

3:09 pm by

Most of the bands playing this years festival are in the folk/americana/bluegrass/indie realm, but the festival promoters knew they’d have to bring some energy to the late night crowd to ensure a proper dance party. Well, they did a great job in their choice of bands to incite said party. Austin-based Latin funk group Grupo Fantasma will be closing the Utopia main stage on Friday, with their endless assortment of danceable tunes. I’ve caught the group a few times over the years, and have never left with out a smile on my face and my body soaked in sweat. Can’t wait for this show tomorrow!

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UtopiaFest Preview: Cornmeal

3:43 pm by

I’ve had the opportunity to catch Cornmeal numerous times over the past few years at a host of festivals including Wakarusa, Harvest Festival and more. At the front of the group is fiddle player Allie Krall, who not only slays her strings, but is also one of the nicest people in the bluegrass and jamband community. The rest of the band are no slouches either, each bringing skill to their instruments that culminates into a fun, dancey newgrass sound. I’d expect their set to be quite rambunctious, and a perfect way to open up the main stage of Utopia on Friday evening. Check out their tune “Hillbilly Ride” below.

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UtopiaFest Preview: The Black And White Years

3:30 pm by

Artsy indie-rockers with a debut produced by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads. Sign me up. Austin-based The Black And White Years will be entertaining the early dinner crowd on the main stage at this years Utopia with their unique take on your standard indie rock basis. You can definitely hear the Talking Heads influence on a bunch of their music, especially on the track I’ve included below, “Zeroes and Ones.” I’m looking forward to catching their set before heading back to camp to grill up some meat. I have a feeling they might leave one of the best tastes in my mouth of any band playing the festival (other than Dawes and Keller, of course).

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UtopiaFest Preview: Digital Antique

8:38 pm by

Digital Antique are an indie-rock instrumental trio in the same vein as their Austin older brothers Explosions In The Sky, only they twist it up by adding a quartet of classically trained string players for a unique take on experimental and, at some times, dance music. Opening the second day with what promises to be a very relaxing set for the lunchtime crowd, the group should provide some interesting compositions for the start of the musical day that eventually ends about 14 hours later with Art vs. Science who”s previewed just below.

Check out this video from one of their Austin Performances at the now defunct Emo”s Indoor. It”s definitely some intriguing music, and should be the perfect way to get the day moving.

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Virgin Mobile Free Fest 2011

6:37 pm by

Virgin Free Fest 2011

This past weekend, my Angry Badger and I took a trip to Baltimore to check out this years edition of the Virgin Mobile Free Fest. After a late night of drinking on Friday night, we woke up as early as we were physically capable of, headed to the bus station to catch the silver line to Columbia, and the famed outdoor venue Merriweather Post Pavilion. Arriving just in time for the first acts of the day, we made our way into the lush, wooded venue with our new Fan E-Packs loaded to the gills with a new t-shirt, poster, 24 oz cup and more. We also walked into one of the best days ever.

Read all about the day and check out some more terrible iPhone pictures after the jump.

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Best Of Houston BestFest

4:07 pm by

Just the other day, the fine folks over at Houston Press” Rocks Off Blog began announcing bands for the first ever BestFest. Centered around the Press” annual Best of Houston list, which focuses on the finer things throughout the city, the inaugural music festival will happen on the 24th and 25th of September and feature a host of both local and national talent. Announced so far are the one and only Cake, indie-folksters Deer Tick, local hip-hop kingpin Bun B and the up-and-coming Houston roots-rockers Buxton. The full line-up will be announced in the next coming weeks, and just like the list that this is centered around, the line-up will be mostly Houston-centric with a few more national acts rounding out the main stage.

We”ll be announcing more acts as they happen, so stay tuned to BOT for more coverage. I”m thinking they”ll add some bands that start with an E, F, G or H next. Just a guess based on the first four. Actually, though, I”d be happy if it were just those four. I love you Houston!

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Primus @ Verizon Wireless Theater

2:42 am by

Primus @ Verizon Wireless Theater

Way back at Bonnaroo in 2004, 7 years ago (ya, I know that was a while ago), I waited in the mud for a late night set from Primus that seemed like it would never happen. Because of a huge rain delay, their midnight set didn’t get started until about 2:30, and I ended up missing all of it. After waiting about an hour, I headed back towards my camp just in time to hear the opening notes of their set. I was pissed, and in need of some Les Claypool, but didn’t get my fill that night. Move forward four years and I finally caught Primus live, at Rothbury when my mind was well beyond coherent and I didn’t register their set like I usually do with most bands. Finally three years after that, and I had Primus in front of me in all of their glory in Houston – Les Claypool slapping the bass like he should with Larry LaLonde nailing the simple guitar parts and Jay Lane effortlessly working through the drums. Their music is not the easiest to digest, but being a fan it was nice to hear their versions of early 90’s Primus songs in the live format. Claypool has moved on from the goofy background he’s familiar with and enhanced the act of instrumentation in every group he’s been apart of, specifically Primus. While it has always been a treat to hear Claypool push the boundaries of the bass guitar, I’ve never seen him nearly as comfortable as I did that night at Verizon Wireless Theater – ripping through the songs he grew up playing. Even though I didn’t stay for the whole performance, I still came to realize that I’ll never see a better bass player than Claypool, let alone a better band instrumentally from the 90’s. An hour of music proved to me that the music of the 90’s was more than relevant. That’s a huge statement.

Check out a bunch of pictures from the show and the full setlist after the jump.

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Wilco @ Verizon Wireless Theater

11:16 pm by

Wilco @ Verizon Wireless Theater

It’s been a long three years since Chicago alt-rockers Wilco last played a show here in Houston, but when Jeff Tweedy and the boys stepped foot on stage last Friday night at Verizon Wireless Theater, it was more like a meeting with an really good friend you barely get to see rather than the long awaited return it felt like during the days leading up to the show. For my seventh (I think?) Wilco show, I was even more excited than the rest as I now had the opportunity to tote along my camera and stand front and center for the first three songs. I’ve been dying to photograph Tweedy in specific for quite some time, so to finally get that opportunity was out of this world. On top of the photography gig, they pulled off quite the spectacular show with a great setlist to boot.

Read all about the show after the jump

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Railroad Revival Tour: Marfa

2:40 pm by

Railroad Revival Tour

A few weeks ago, on Easter Sunday, I had the incredible opportunity to travel all the way to the other side of Texas, to the tiny town of Marfa, TX. The occasion had nothing to do with the holiday, but rather to be a part of a one of a kind event known as the Railroad Revival Tour. Making six stops from Oakland, CA all the way to New Orleans, a vintage train carried the likes of Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show throughout the American Southwest on a tour that highlighted collaboration amongst the groups above anything else. While the tour also stopped in Austin and New Orleans, much closer destinations than the rest, I opted to put my press request in for Marfa, a good ten hour road trip from Houston. I’d never been to West Texas, so I figured this was as good of a time as any, especially with the stacked list of performers slated to play. We packed our car, and drove off into the afternoon sun, a day before the show to ensure we’d make it on time. After a day gone by, we pulled into Marfa and headed straight towards the one and only bar in town.

Read more about the show after the jump

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Fayetteville’s Summer Sounds

10:49 pm by

This is going to be about music, believe me. But let me give you some background information for this post: Northwest Arkansas’ weather has been a mess in the last couple of months. We had a record snowfall in February, followed by bitter cold days and then, just when we thought warm Spring days were here, we were hit by sudden freezes and rain. Lots. Of. Rain. With tornadoes sprinkled in between all that. Needless to say, everybody was ready for some consistent sunshine. It was until this past weekend when we finally had some great temperatures (I’m tropical blooded, so by that, I mean we finally hit the 80’s). With warmer winds and longer days that Summer feeling has finally arrived (as I knock on wood, I don’t want another Great Flood, yo!).

And what better to celebrate the Season of the Sun than a ton of music? Yes, folks. I finally got to the music part of the post. There are several awesome events coming to Fayetteville and it’s surroundings this Summer. Read on for more on Wakarusa and its pre and post-parties, a bigger and better Fayetteville Roots Festival, music at the park, and what’s shaping up to be a legendary Block Party.

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