Yes, Indeed! Fest
Sept 13 from 5pm–2am
$15 at door (cash only); $12 online
3500 Main St.
The third annual Yes, Indeed! Fest is out to do the Houston music scene proud: it’s small, cheap, and thoroughly local. For less than the cost of dinner ($15 at the door, $12 presale, or $10 if you can hunt down a participating band member), a slew of amazing local and regional bands await anyone hungry for a new experience. This is the chance to discover your new favorite band—to get in on the ground floor.
The event runs from 5 p.m. to well after midnight and will feature over 25 bands across four stages in the Mid-Main block (3500 Main St., along the light rail at the Ensemble/HCC stop) that houses the Continental Club, the Alley Kat Bar & Lounge, Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top, and Pachinko Hut.
“My goal is to get my favorite Houston bands exposure to new potential fans,” organizer Jason Smith recently told me. “If you’re a casual fan, like most people, you’re probably going to know a couple of these acts, and [it’s] going to open your eyes up to some new acts that never crossed your path before.”
Below, our guide to the festivities:
Black Pistol Fire – Hipster Shakes
The festival’s biggest act is Black Pistol Fire, a two-man hard-rock band hailing from Austin and anchoring the Continental Club stage with a midnight performance. Since moving from Canada to Texas in 2009, Kevin McKeown and Eric Owen have soaked up the rawness and aggression of Southern rock and fired off three full-length salvoes of their own. The latest, this year’s Hush or Howl, barely lets up long enough to let a listener catch their breath from the distorted, electric opening notes of “Alabama Coldcock” to the mournful country feel of closer “Grease My Wheel.” In a 2011 interview with the Houston Press, the band described their live shows are a living thing, improvised and electric.
Comparisons to The Black Keys are inevitable, if only because the latter duo brought the idea of a successful two-man rock band into the mainstream. Black Pistol Fire lay on stomping, swaggering blues rhythm with only electric guitar and drums, but the aggression and power of McKeown’s singing is more reminiscent of another recent duo: the White Stripes. Black Pistol Fire spew the same raw, stomping attitude that put Jack White on the map years ago, but you’ve still got a chance to catch them on a tiny stage. Another Run (who’re in the running for Free Press Houston’s “Best Band That Jumps” award) and buzzy indie upstarts Catch Fever will help warm up the Continental Club stage earlier in the evening.
After Nations – Gilgamesh III
Each of the other venues involved in the festival will have its own distinct feel. Big Top’s rock-centric stage (okay, the corner of the bar) will host the farthest-flung visitors, Kansas City prog-metal trio After Nations, as well as the piano-driven laments of Poor Pilate and the pummeling noise of RIVERS, whose raucous White Stripes cover set at March’s Be The Match Houston benefit concert gave yours truly some magnificent bruises. From Austin comes Megafauna, whose singer/guitarist Dani Neff exudes menace and grace in equal measure as she dances and shreds through the band’s recent album Maximalist. The Trimms, whose lead guitarist Dillon Trimm has been shortlisted by the Press for his vocal and guitar-shredding skills, will close out the stage.
BLSHS - Blushes
The backroom “dance stage” at Alley Kat can be hard to find, but the adventurous will be rewarded with high-energy acts backed up by a claustrophobically intense laser and light show by local artist Steve Boriack. England In 1819, a post-rock outfit from Baton Rouge who trade in cinematic, slow-building atmospheres that somehow involve a French horn, will close out the Alley Kat stage. Leading into their set will be ever-enthusiastic (and oft-shirtless) electro-glam trio Sphynx, Houston Press Music Award–winning funk band Electric Attitude, and the beat-heavy siren songs of fast-rising synthpop trio BLSHS, all of whom would be well worth catching even without the lasers.
Lion Among Men – The Visitor
For those who skew more toward the acoustic, the Pachinko Hut’s outdoor stage will have you covered. Acts will include handmade-folk duo Ma & God, newcomers who seem intent on conquering the world even if they have to make all their weapons themselves, as well as the clean and harmonious indie pop of Lion Among Men and country/gospel duo Sand Dollar Swing. This stage will wrap up earlier than the others, though, so make sure to sit a spell in the spacious backyard patio before the sun goes down.
This is the third year for Yes, Indeed! Fest, and it looks like it’ll be another great one. Last year’s event, held in the north downtown trifecta of venues made up by Last Concert Café, House of Creeps, and the now-defunct Doctor’s Office, was a great chance for audiences to catch up-and-comers like the ukulele-toting Say Girl Say and heavy rockers Knights of the Fire Kingdom alongside dozens of other acts. From a slow and sweaty opening jam with Jealous Creatures to the night’s joyous shoutalong closer Quiet Company, the night was an eye-opening trip through all the great music the Houston area has to offer.
Organizers Jason Smith and Phil Peterson are fans of the truest stripe. Yes, Indeed! came about as a result of the duo’s ardent support of their fellow musicians (both play in rock band Alkari and Smith contributes regularly to the long-running local music blog Space City Rock). “I’m doing this because I know and love these bands,” Smith told me. By organizing a four-stage, all-night showcase, he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Peterson is the driver of AR*V Productions, a small group that books shows around Houston, mainly at notsuoH and Alley Kat, and is vocal in garnering attention for new acts. It’s easy to fall through the cracks here in Houston – we have millions of potential listeners, but anyone who’s been to a show that doesn’t feature Beyoncé knows how sparse attendance usually is. Thanks to folks like Smith and Peterson, music lovers and lovers of Houston artists have a chance to catch dozens of acts they might otherwise never experience.
“I’m a huge fan of SXSW and go every year,” Smith said. “This is my way of trying to bring a tiny bit of that feel to Houston for one night.”