Waiting for the Megabus one day downtown at the corner of 4th and Broadway, I took a walk around the neighboring streets to kill some time. There’s a church, some office buildings, a motel and a few renovated historic houses.
Nothing out of the ordinary, that is until I turned the corner on Avenue E and found a massive, intimidating structure towering over me.
This Greek revival building displays “Scottish Rite Cathedral” above its soaring columns. Peculiar, I thought, remembering a “Scottish Rite Temple” within walking distance from the Megabus stop in Austin, too.
Me being the inquisitive type, I Googled the place. My search revealed an upcoming performance by Youngblood Hawke at the Scottish Rite Theatre and Grand Ballroom Saturday, Dec. 21. Youngblood Hawke? As in that fun electropop band that sings “We Come Running”? Yes. As in that band with the cool remixes that I saw on Jimmy Kimmel Live? Yes. YES.
The Rivard Report has four tickets to give away for Saturday’s performance. We’ll be selecting two winners from our comment section on this post (comments are imported from our Facebook page). To enter, simply provide your full name and email address in the provided fields and answer:
What’s your favorite concert experience in San Antonio? (Venue and performer combination.)
Entry period closes at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 18 and winners will be contacted via email or through Facebook message by 5 p.m. (be sure to check both inboxes).
Youngblood Hawke is a five-member band based out of Los Angeles and includes three San Antonio natives. Simon Katz, Alice Katz and Tasso Smith became friends while living here at a young age. Simon and Sam Martin became friends and bandmates in Colorado during college. Nik Hughes, Alice and Tasso joined Simon and Sam to form the band Youngblood Hawke.
I called Tasso while he was in L.A. recently and to my surprise, he still has a 210 area code.
“Simon and I met in San Antonio and grew up playing in bands with each other, jamming out in my parents back studio,” Tasso said.
Three San Antonio natives return to the heart of the city to perform with other local favorites at a historical venue. It fits perfectly within the context of downtown revitalization efforts and the recent push for a more established local music scene complete with a variety of venues that can host national and global talent.
Local event company TrafficKing and The Current magazine have hosted other music events at nontraditional venues, such as the recently-opened Mission Park Pavillion, La Villita and nearby Arneson River Theatre. The hidden gem that is the Scottish Rite Theatre exemplifies the potential for growth in the arts and entertainment industry in San Antonio. There are a number of stages and spaces yet to be remembered for events and concerts like these.
I have to admit I was a little perplexed by the choice of venue. Tasso said he didn’t know anyone who had been to an event at the Scottish Rite Theatre and I had to agree. It brought several questions to mind immediately and organizer Faith Raddle was able to explain.
“Scottish Rite is an underutilized, but incredibly beautiful, indoor facility in downtown,” she said. “(It meets) needs for capacity on this show and having it indoors was important for us because of the unpredictable weather in December.”
I asked Tasso if he had heard about San Antonio’s “downtown renaissance.” He’s excited about “all the changes happening” here. He still has family and friends in the area who “contribute to the change and keep (him) posted.”
Tasso, the band’s guitarist, said he grew up listening to the many musical influences of his parents, such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Eagles, to name a few. Getting older, Tasso began listening to punk and ska bands like NOFX and Reel Big Fish but still took the time to hone in on his blues guitar techniques.
Years down the road, Tasso found himself in L.A. and joining a new band with longtime friend Simon who, according to the band’s website, sat down unplanned with Sam and hammered out the material for Youngblood Hawke’s debut album “Wake Up.”
“We never really put much thought into who we appeal to because the music appeals to us,” Tasso said. The truth in this statement can be verified by the tours they’ve been a part of and the places one can hear their music — all over.
Youngblood Hawke toured as one of the opening bands for the celebrity musician P!nk, they’ve also toured with Keane and Passion Pit. Three bands whose audiences are quite diverse and whose sound is all but alike. Youngblood Hawke has also scored some pretty key “sync deals” that illustrate their mass appeal.
Synchronization licenses (sync for short) were inked with the U.S. Open, the Final Four and even with a FIFA soccer video game. Having music licensed in commercials and other media is a major source of revenue for bands today and no longer carries the intense stigma of “selling out” as it has in the past.
“Wake Up” is as strong as a debut album could be. Besides the touring and coverage by publications like Rolling Stone, the band’s long list of accomplishments include an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show (video has since been removed from online viewing) and finding a place on the U.S music charts. The single from “Wake Up,” entitled “We Come Running” (“gold” status in Australia), was also remixed by Tiesto and RAC (Remix Artist Coalition), giants of the electronic music world. An RAC remix (Rolling Stone magazine hosts a free download of this track here) is an honor any band would love to tout.
“We’ve been real fortunate to have our music come out at the right time and in the right places and have (an) awesome record label helping to make it happen,” Tasso said.
Also on the bill is Vaden Todd Lewis of the Toadies and Burden Brothers. Lewis is performing a solo acoustic set.
The Toadies are no stranger to San Antonio and have performed here regularly since their ’90’s rock radio hit “Possum Kingdom.”
“(The band is) stoked about performing with (Vaden Todd) Lewis of the Toadies,” said Tasso. “I mean, that was the music we grew up listening to” and playing on guitar.
Opening the night is another SA native, Henry & the Invisibles. Henry Roland describes himself as a “one man funk band.” Roland uses electronic instruments like a looper peddle, along with playing guitar and bass to create fun jams that make the crowd move.
Even though Youngblood Hawke’s album “Wake Up” can be described as electro rock with indie-pop sensibilities, Tasso said he describes themselves as a “rock band.”
The trendy synth pop that has become a standard in today’s pop music can be neat and clean to the point of sterility.
Maintaining a live rock band feel, “we bring a more raw approach” towards our performances, Tasso said. “We’ll be trying out some new tunes and a few different versions of songs. We’re bringing a never heard before set to San Antonio.” Saturday, Dec. 21 doors at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $12 and at the door they’re $17. Visit prekindle.com for tickets or enter to win some by commenting below (see details above).
Miles is chief lyricist and beat programmer for Mixed Use Media, the electronic music and arts group. He has been a live music performer in Central Texas for more than seven years. He also blogs, DJ’s and performs solo as PunkSoda. Find him on Twitter @punksoda, Soundcloud, and Facebook..