Houston Whatever Fest — a scintillating mix of music and comedy — has in its second year, upped the ante of the caliber of performers it brings to Houston. By bumping the festival from August to November, HWF takes direct advantage of cooler weather, too (or as cool as Houston gets, anyway). Located in the bustling, burgeoning east downtown district, HWF has made a name for itself as a premier event for perhaps what is currently Houston’s “hottest” neighborhood.
We’ve picked some artists (and one comedian) you should check out this weekend.
FAT TONY, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 4:40 PM, REMAX STAGE
The man born Anthony Obi is my favorite live performer, period. I’ve seen tons of shows in my life, everything from big-tent festivals to arena shows to intimate club concerts to being one of six people at a concert at the old Walter’s on Washington. Obi has consistently been my favorite.
A local institution since 2008, Tony’s live performances are an electric mix of punk-style thrashing (Obi often performs with his mic plugged into a guitar pedal) and hip-hop swagger. You don’t have to like his music, or even appreciate hip-hop, to “get” what makes Obi such a unique performer: He gives everything he has onstage, ending his sets usually covered in sweat and with a hoarse voice. He never phones it in. He’s a consummate pro.
GWAR, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 8:20 PM, REMAX STAGE
What can we say? It’s GWAR. It’s not a concert. It’s an experience. Wear a poncho.
GABE BRAVO, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 5:30 PM, IHEARTRADIO COMEDY TENT
Houston’s funniest local comedian has steadily been on his grind since his days of hosting open-mic nights. He’s performed at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, shared a stage with underrated former late-night host Pete Holmes, and gone on tour with the hilarious, deadpan Todd Barry. All this just a few years removed from the times I used to hijack his drum set and (badly) attempt to play White Stripes songs at his house. See him before he gets too cool to host another open-mic night.
GZA, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 7:30 PM, BUD LIGHT STAGE
Staten Island’s brainiest and most dense rapper ever loves physics as much as rapping about the Shaolin. Compared to a few of his Wu-Tang peers, GZA has had the most consistent and reliable solo career of them all, and on Sunday he performs his classic 1995 record Liquid Swords in full.
METRIC, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 9:30 PM, BUD LIGHT STAGE
Speaking of consistency, few indie-rock bands have sustained my attention like Toronto’s Metric, featuring Emily Haines, who was once a member of Canada’s former-flagship band Broken Social Scene. Metric make guitar-heavy arena rock that doesn’t dumb-down Haines’ strong songwriting for any ill attempts at making a big, dumb, radio crossover hit. They’re touring behind September’s solid Pagans in Vegas and close out the weekend.