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July 1, 2001
At City Hall
Houston, TX

by Samuel Barker
July 5, 2001

When I first heard about this show I wasn't too excited for it. I've always wanted to see The Violent Femmes, but seeing them at an all day festival in downtown Houston wasn't my idea of an ideal setting to see them.

Upon arriving I was impressed with the set up of the show. The stage was at the foot of City Hall with the fountain directly in front of the stage. Combine this with the beautiful backdrop of the skyscrapers and you are given a breathtaking scene.

The first band we saw when we arrived was Simpleton. They were playing on the 2nd stage. I had heard a lot of great things about them in the past, but none of those things were present at this performance. The sound was horrible, and they didn't do anything for most everyone there. They had a lot of energy, but it couldn't help this horrid display. Maybe early afternoon isn't a good time for them to play.

The next band up, the first we saw on the main stage, was Canvas. This band kept the losing streak alive. They were just another generic alt. rock band trying to make it. I was really disappointed in the show at this point, so I left the park and walked to a nearby sandwich shop for some lunch.

When I returned, Flickerstick was up on the main stage. They have gained fame by being on of the idiot bands who ran all over the country sabotaging each other for the corporate puppetmasters at VH1. Despite this pathetic pathway to national recognition, they played a good set. They were alt. rock, but they had some spirit. Maybe they weren't as ridiculous as one would think. I really enjoyed a lot of their songs, but after the low expectations I had it wasn't hard to have a high spot.

Next up on the second stage was Thanx But No Thanx. I was surprised by how many people made their way over to see them. This was really the best set I've ever seen them play. Despite some problems with the guitar staying in tune on the first song, the set flowed well, and everyone enjoyed the show. I was really impressed with this showing by a local band.

At this point, I was expecting to see The Supersuckers, but the main stage was running behind schedule, so we were presented with Pushmonkey. I never cared for them when they were popular, and I still don't care for them. Their lead singer looked like a reject from Starsky and Hutch. It was a disappointing scene to me.

After Pushmonkey kindly went off stage, I refused to leave the main stage area until I saw The Supersuckers. This was a wait well worth the time. When The Supersuckers came on, you knew it was time to rock. They played the second strongest set of the day. I was blown away by their stage presence and the way they worked the crowd. This was a set that you would be hard pressed to not enjoy. The pinnacle of the set was when the entire band played the bass guitar, even the drummer who played with his sticks, it was amazing to watch.

As soon as The Supersuckers finished up, I rushed over to see some of The Hungers set. As usual, they had the high energy, but it was odd seeing them on such a small stage. They headlined the second stage, which really didn't give them enough room to get as wild as they usually do. Nonetheless, their set was solid.

At this point I was planning on taking a break. I had never heard Blue October and I just knew I wouldn't like them.....well, as they say, assumption is a dangerous thing. After pounding a couple Red Bulls, I made my way over to the main stage to watch this amazing band I was hearing. The violin player was an awesome touch. Their lead singer had a lot of energy and a really nice voice. They really were a tight band. I walked away with a deep respect for Blue October.

Well, here it was, the set we had all been waiting for, The Violent Femmes were playing. They played a strong set, full of all their best known songs. Highlights for me were "Country Death Song," "Blister In The Sun," and "Add It Up"(which was their last song). The trio of Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie, and Guy Hoffman put on an amazing performance.

The addition of the horn section was a nice touch to the later songs. Brian hander over bass duties on one song to play the xylophone. It was an interesting site to see. The only disappointment in the set was that the set was cut short due to the city curfew. Overall, the entire day was amazing. I really enjoyed the show despite my assumptions made before hand. Thanks to everyone involved with show, it was spectacular.

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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