MUSIC MONDAYS: Buzzfestivus
PHOTOGRAPHED by VIOLETA ALVAREZ
REVIEW WRITTEN BY ASHLYNN CAMPBELL
Episode 011: BUZZFESTIVUS
Houston’s most popular radio station 94.5 The Buzz has become notorious for not only their decades spanning alternative rock playlists but also their events. They throw parties for pretty much every occasion but there are two shows in particular that stand out above the rest: Buzzfest and Buzzfestivus. Typically held in April and December, Buzzfest is always a massive lineup spread amongst 2 stages and is a full day ordeal whereas Buzzfestivus is a traditional concert with 3-4 bands. This year’s Buzzfestivus lineup was the best I’ve seen in at least the last 4 years, no competition. The opening act was Sleeping with Sirens and co-headlining were Highly Suspect and Royal Blood.
When choosing the bands to play these events, I imagine the decision relies heavily on hits that currently top the charts. That being said, Sleeping with Siren’s big hit right now is “Legends” off their newest album “Gossip”. Highly Suspect has a staggering 3 tracks still coasting on the radio (which is very impressive): “Lydia” from album “Mister Asylum” which is their breakout hit, “My Name is Human” and “Little One” both from “The Boy Who Died Wolf”. Finally, Royal Blood has “Lights Out” from this year’s album “How Did We Get So Dark” and “Little Monster” from their self-titled record which is their breakout hit.
The House of Blues show was sold out and brimming as anticipated which made for a challenge to find a spot in the crowd. Luckily, I called in a favor from my friend Kylie who is the merch girl for Highly Suspect and was able to enjoy the show from her spacious roped off area. Letting Sleeping with Sirens kick off the night proved to be a smart decision. I wouldn’t have paired them with the hard rock styling of Highly Suspect or the modern blues influences of Royal Blood but it seemed to work out in this case. Singer Kellin Quinn has a very wide vocal range which allows more versatility to impact the genre. They’ve gone from a heavy post-hardcore sound in the beginning to a more pop-rock sound now and seems still be leaning increasingly more pop with every new release. In most instances, fans don’t like to see this kind of transformation but I think it’s working for them and largely plays a role in their continued success.
After the crowd was left eager for more, Highly Suspect came on and kicked their set off with fan favorite Bath Salts and yes, every audience member seemed to be on them as they enthusiastically screamed every lyric. HS played all the hits that everyone wanted to hear while also sprinkling in some of their less famous songs that went over nicely with dedicated fans and new listeners alike. The band closed with “Look Alive, Stay Alive” and in the middle of the song, encouraged concert goers to rush the stage and get up there to dance with him and with no hesitation in a matter of about one minute, there were about 30 fans up on stage going nuts. It’s pretty inspiring to see bands interact with crowd members and make an event so personal and memorable to someone even though it’s just another day for the artists.
Royal Blood wasn’t nearly as interactive but the performance was amazing nonetheless. My friends in Highly Suspect hooked it up with a backstage pass so I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy the remainder of the show from stage left near the drummer which allowed me to see the faces of every audience member light up when they played what they wanted to hear. You should know that Royal Blood only consists of two members: a drummer and a bass player/singer. I’ve been told that duos don’t like to be described in a way that they’re really good “especially since it’s only two guys”…But only being two members kind of demonstrates just HOW freaking good they are. They pull their weight as a duo that creates shamelessly melodic bluesy rock which speaks to their quick rise to the top.
With no desire to ease into the set, they started off unrestrained with “Lights Out”. During their hour long set they incorporated welcomed lifts, complicated and impressive solos all without using predictable lengthy repetitive rolls. They bounced off each other throughout the entire performance which kept things fresh and interesting to watch. They closed the set with “Figure It Out”, then a two song encore. If you get the chance to any of these bands, definitely take it!
ABOUT VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Houston native, Violeta Alvarez, was voted Houston’s Best Top 10 Music Photographers by the Houston Press. She lived in New York City for 16 years and studied at Pratt Institute of Design, where her focus was Art History and Media Studies. She then continued her education at Parsons The New School of Design where she studied photography with influential artists Bill Gaskins and Charles Harbutt (former President of Magnum Photos). Her images have been featured in publications such as New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press, MTV, and many others.
ABOUT ASHLYNN CAMPBELL
Ash Campbell is a staff writer and project manager for Texas Inked while simultaneously attending college for graphic design. She has interviewed such artists as Eagles of Death Metal, Bishop Briggs, Mod Sun, DREAMERS and many more!