Austin has been a hub for live music, local or not, for decades. The music and arts scene in Austin continues to grow exponentially, as various generations liberally and fearlessly continue to shape the city year after year. In more recent decades, emphasis on local artists have fueled the very nature of the city, hence the term “Keep Austin Weird.” While native “Austinites” understand the authentic definition of keeping it weird, those who admire the city from different regions, often do not; the iconic slogan is misinterpreted to fit the hippie-esque vibe that sits like a blanket of psychedelia on top of the city. And while Austin locals certainly do keep it weird, when it comes to their general aesthetic, the motto is rooted in a place more virtuous than style.
Keeping Austin weird is a mantra pertaining to supporting and participating in all that is local. Austin is known for supporting local, non-franchised businesses city wide. Not only does the central Texas community righteously exploit local business, but the local arts as well.
Solstice Live is a locally operated business that serves as a gateway for Austin-area artists to excel in whichever form their aesthetic manifests itself. Everything from creating SXSW house parties for underground artists, to accessible artist management, On Vinyl is thrilled to consider Solstice Live a true friend and partner in creating hyper-local communities nation wide.
Last weekend, Solstice Live threw one of the biggest local arts events of the year- Solstice Festival. The event was held at Pan Am Park, located just east of Austin’s favorite highway- i35. Lucky for attendees, traffic was light and neighborhood parking was readily available. Late-night parties rolled through downtown Austin after party-goers dried up their pit stains and let their tacos digest. The event consisted of two days of local music, local art and local vendors city-wide to stimulate the very “weird” minds of Austin music junkies. A fan favorite from the festival was the Austin born, one-man-funk-band Henry + The Invisibles.
Henry + The Invisibles is composed of a few men- Henry on vocals, Henry on keyboard, Henry on synth and Henry on acoustics. It’s all Henry, all the time. Henry, Henry, Henry. Henry and his invisibles take old school funk and soul and combine it with today’s take on electronic music. It was about 100 degrees at the Pyramid stage around 5:45 p.m. when an eclectic group of groovy men and women gathered in the cast shade of the stage to boogie down to the multi-dimensional sound of one man…Henry.
Henry wore pants that were questionably stolen from the set of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and somehow managed to rock a fedora–it was…impressive. His get up was outlandish, but his spirit was genuine–loving. He looped melodies and beats over and under the steady rhythm, creating the illusion that he was actually playing with a band. Heads were bobbing, feet were moving and there was a sense of togetherness via his innate funk. Despite his fans inevitable swamp-ass (myself included), we danced and embraced the child-like energy that lingered atop the crowd.
Henry has a shimmery, glittery pet who keeps him company under his equipment during his sets, only to be seen in intimate, appropriate settings. Solstice Fest proved to be a mecca for support and boogie to Henry + The Invisibles, so his crowd went face to face with his iconic puppet pet. As he finished out his set with his popular track “Only Human,” he slyly wrapped himself in a sequined coat. Attached to the arm of the coat, was the pet we had been hoping to see. The pet had a long stretching neck and an alien-like head. But no, we were not afraid. The illuminating puppet sang to us and grooved to the heady loops. Henry and his mascot captivated our eyes, hearts and souls. The crowd felt loved, trusted and respected–truly moved by a one-man-band.
Henry + The Invisibles and Solstice live are a testament to the local arts scene in Austin. No talent is to be left behind in this radical city, ’til next time Solstice Fest.
(Photo Courtesy: Erika Rich/For American-Statesman)