Saturday, August 21, 2010

REPRINT SERIES: KTRU compilation release show (4/19/10)

[Ed. Note: Continuing in our coverage of the demise of KTRU, here's another reprint, this one from the KTRU Live Vol. 2 CD release at Avant Garden. Presented without edits as always.]

It seems like just last week I was at Rice University, enjoying the KTRU Outdoor Show. Probably because it was just last week. One week later, KTRU held another event, not quite on the scale of the Outdoor Show but eventful all the same. On Friday night, KTRU threw a party at Avant Garden for the release of the second volume of their KTRU Live series, featuring live on-air performances from some of Houston's best local bands. Three of those bands turned out at the release party to play their songs from the album and more.

Not quite Listenlisten, but Ben (vocals and guitar) and Shane (horns and banjo) showed up to play some Listenlisten songs acoustically. It had a slightly more laid back feel to it, but since Listenlisten isn't an upbeat electric band to begin with, only having half the band just gave a different, not a better or worse, look at some of their songs. They covered some of their best material, but it was a very short set so it was missing a lot of favorites. Still good to hear these guys anytime they play.

Now in this smokey coffeehouse environment soundtracked by folk music, it's hard not to be reminded of my dad's stories of the 1960's cafe scene with all those legendary folk singers playing to tiny audiences in much the same surroundings. That's exactly what the Literary Greats brought to mind. When the duo busted out the harmonica, I instantly got flashes of a young Bob Dylan and their harmonies seemed directly inspired by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Maybe it was just the atmosphere, but there was something extremely cool about their entire performance. The only thing missing was the coffee.

That atmosphere sadly faded for the last band of the bill, Doggebi. Throwing out the structured folk music of Listenlisten and the Literary Greats, Doggebi jumped straight into highly experimental improvisational music consisting of a distorted flute and percussion instruments. It was a little bit uncomfortably out there and it went on entirely too long. In fact, it was the longest set of the night. It's music I respect, but there's not much to latch onto. I went through a phase of listening to music like this, but I find myself needing hooks in my music these days. Admittedly though, Doggebi are good at what they do and for the group that's into this sort of thing, it was probably their favorite band all night.

The Secret Prostitutes were supposed to play, but canceled so the night ended a bit early and abruptly. Those KTRU Live CDs were on sale and I of course bought one which has already been proven to be rewarding in itself. As for the show, it was a bit slight but still fun, especially for that long lost folk vibe that fascinates me to this day.

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