For those about to rock, we salute you.
More than 20 Houston acts will take to Wi-Fi to perform over the course of a week starting Monday, August 24 for Houston Benefit Week. The live stream festival curated by Houston-based, national music publication Closed Captioned and beloved local independent venue, Wonky Power, will raise money for hurting local music venues.
The live stream concerts will take place from a variety of locations via live stream concert platform, Noon Chorus that has showcased revered artists such as Angel Olsen, Waxahatchee, Yo La Tengo, Surfer Blood, and upcoming shows by Bright Eyes and Dawes.
Artists on the lineup include a who's-who of the Houston music scene, including The Suffers' lead singer Kam Franklin, fast-rising rapper Fat Tony, atmospheric Galveston alt-rockers El Lago, the hip-hop meets hardcore punk of Blackie, noise rocers Narrow Head, uber-producer John Allen Stephens, '90s alt-rock throwback act Good Girl, talented synth artist Tee Vee, country crooners Hayes Carll and Luba Dvorak, and many more.
The concert series came about via David Garrick, founder of Closed Captioned, who sought to give back to the Houston music community in a time of need. Joining forces with Wonky Power owner, Mario Rodriguez, who had helped organize the first rooftop concert after the pandemic started at Axelrad Beer Garden back in May. Garrick then reached out to local acts to organize a week-long schedule of live performance. Some will take place at Wonky Power, some will take place in personal performance spaces.
"I told Mario, hey, let's do this, we'll give all the money to venues, they'll all be independently owned," Garrick tells CultureMap. "I said let's use NoonChorus. I reached out to them and they've been the greatest partner and they embraced it 100 percent."
The seven day and 22 artist roster will raise money for Houston venues Satellite Bar, Rudyard's, The Secret Group, Red Dwarf, Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, and the Old Quarter Cafe in Galveston. All together, they represent decades worth of shows and memories for local independent music.
Garrick has experience with multi-day benefit concerts. Two years ago, he organized a seven day benefit sprawling across six venues to raise money for Christian Kidd of Houston punk band The Hates as he battled cancer. This time, he'll take it to the internet with closures of venues across the country.
It couldn't come at a better time, as live music spaces face an unprecedented challenge to stay open with no way to generate revenue as the coronavirus ravages the arts world. This type of event could give momentary respite with federal aid legislation on hold — as lawmakers are on their summer recess without finding a deal to help independent venues.
"I think it's good for everyone to see their favorite bands again," says electronic pop producer Rex Hudson, who is on the lineup. "I agreed to do it to keep the venues open until we get back to some sort of normalcy. Having played a lot of the Houston venues, it was an opportunity to give back."
"The goal of this thing is to raise money for six independent venues and the reason why the cost of the series is $70 is because if you're going to donate to a GoFundMe, most people are going to donate around $50 to $100," Garrick says. "We thought, we'll make it $70 and divvy it up among the venues. You get a lot for it, you get plenty of content."