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Houston's Rising Stars Vortxz Take On Warehouse Live Midtown Stage


Vortxz
RAMBO ON THE WAREHOUSE LIVE STAGE

Houston, Texas is home to countless rising stars from across all musical genres. It is the birth place of many great artists such as Beyonce, Megan The Stallion, and Waterparks, so it is no surprise that great talents continue to arise from the region. Over two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see one of Houston's current rising stars in action, the Latino indie rock band, Vortxz. The band debuted only two years ago with the release of their first single "Galveston Beach", a song that feels like a tribute to the memories the band has had at the well known Galveston Beach just south of Houston. It is a song I feel resonates in the hearts of all young Houstonians who have spent summers traveling to experience the beach with their families and friends. Since their debut, the band has released nine original singles, as well as one studio recorded cover.


Vortxz took the stage at Warehouse Live Midtown, the newest location of Houston's iconic venue, Warehouse Live , on January 4, 2024. They played many fan favorite songs, as well as a handful of new and unreleased songs, including their newest single, “Me and You”, which officially released on streaming platforms the moment their set ended at 11pm. The song is a collaboration between Vortxz and another local Houston band, Eucalyption. They premiered it live on stage alongside Eucalyption, who were one of the two openers, during their own set. As per the band’s suggestion, I listened to the track again on the drive home and absolutely loved it.



Eucalyption is a duo consisting of brothers Ben and James. The band, much like the other two, are local to Houston and have played various shows across Houston’s diverse venues. One of those venues includes White Oak Music Hall’s upstairs stage, where I saw them live last year for the very first time. During that concert they were opening for the band Jaguar Sun. Back then, and even now, I am intrigued by their unique set up and dynamics. Both brothers bring their fair share to the duo. Ben plays the guitar, the bass, and sings while James plays the drums, percussion, synthesizers, and sings as well.


Eucalyption was the first band to perform and opened their set with a cover of Just Got To Be, by the Black Keys. Then the pair transitioned into their song, Distractions, a song about how we as a society use distractions throughout our days just to get by, but also a song with lyrics promoting us to "quit with the slacking, get with the action." The song features a rap from James and an overall sound of a beautiful blend of Jazz and Rock. There's a whole section of the song with a synth and bass combo that gives it that Jazz sound. They followed the song with their newest single, which released in 2023, Please Go To Sleep. It's a very relatable song about what seems to be insomnia caused by the troubles of life. The line, "Won't you please go to sleep I got work in the morning," is the most relatable line. A few other ones I felt emotionally were, "I just wish I could be free," and the very passionately sung, "I can't keep living this way." The latter is one I myself have actually said out loud before. The song is the embodiment of what it feels like living in modern America, especially as a creative who wants to put energy into their art while simultaneously having to put their energy into their "normal" responsibilities. It alludes to the stress of life and work brought to us as we continue to just push through it, telling ourselves, "Everything will be okay."


After Please Go To Sleep, they played Waiting, a song off of their album Go Ahead And Ignore This If You Want, which released in 2020. Waiting is another commentary about society and how we're living but promoting instead that we "keep spreading the love, gotta keep on fighting," and how we "gotta live like your life depends on it." The song also has an instrumental that you'll find yourself nodding along to, and if you were seeing it live, it would have you moving your body alongside its rhythm. They then performed one of their songs, I would say is one of my favorites from them, More Love In My Day. The song is a slower ballad that carries a similar theme to Distractions, with a message that instead of needing other things to get us by, we should focus on having more in love in our day to day lives. A few of my other favorites which they performed live include, Keep On and Help You. They performed a handful more of their songs, as well as another cover, this time the song was Walking On A Dream by Empire Of The Sun.


It’s very interesting to see James specifically when witnessing the duo perform live, as he uses his various instruments smoothly throughout the performance of the songs. His set up was the main thing that caught my attention and I focused on seeing just how exactly he executed using it. If you ever see them live yourself, you’ll be a little mesmerized to see him playing while singing, playing the drums while using his synth, using the synth while singing/rapping and adding extra sounds with hand held percussion instruments, all throughout a single song. Of course, we can’t leave Ben out.


Ben not only sings, but sing raps as well and plays the guitar during live performances. Something that I found intriguing about the way Ben chooses to play the guitar is his use of a guitar pick. During certain chord progressions he chooses to play without a pick, choosing to keep it between his teeth until he needs it. The lack of use of a pick gives the chords a softer sound. The brothers' voices flow very well together, with two very distinct tones.



The indie/alternative/pop-punk band Orion 224 were the second openers for the night. They opened with an introduction song and transitioned into their song Violet Sunset, their latest single which was just released on July 21, 2023. They then transitioned into one of their unreleased songs, Time and Time Again. After they finished playing the song, the band took some time to introduce themselves. The lead singer and guitarist of Orion 224, Cristian Gonzalez, kept the energy elevated with jokes throughout their entire set. While introducing the band, he had the whole crowd say "Hi Gavin!" to his brother, Gavin Gonzalez, on the drums. During this time he also had the entire crowd simultaneously say their name in attempt to catch one single name in the clutter. One of the fans in the crowd chose to yell after the clutter of names and caught Cristian's attention, his name was Raymond, who was from Austin, Texas. The fan proclaiming "Austin, Texas baby!" ensued Cristian to respond with " Awesome, yeah! This is my first time in Texas, y'all. It's pretty cool," getting laughs from the crowd of fans who have likely seen their impact on the Houston underground music scene over the years. The rest of the band consists of lead guitarist Sean Sticker and bassist and backing vocalist Victor Perez. Later on in the night, Cristian claimed that the band was originally going to be a Latino rock band but they "eventually got a good friend [Sean] who happened to be Caucasian in the band" so it wasn't a possibility anymore.


After the band introduced themselves they started performing their unreleased song Self Obsessed. A song that starts off with soft vocals and a light instrumental which quickly transitions into more passionate singing and fast strumming guitar chords and drumming that'll have you swaying your head along to it. The band was full of energy and transmuted it from across the stage into the audience. The band played a variety of their own original songs, including their well known songs Strawberry Horchata and Mushroom, alongside a handful of covers of the band members “favorite songs”. The covers included Sean's favorite song, Harry Style’s As It Was, Gavin's favorite song, Weezer's Say It Ain't So , and The Killers’ Mr. Brightside. The band elevated the crowd’s experience by bringing in their own black and red balloons and tossing a bag full of them into crowd, once at the beginning point of the show and then again near the end of their set. The balloons remained in the air throughout their entire set.


orion 224

After their performance of yet another unreleased song Is This It , one of Cristian's favorites from their list of unreleased music, Cristian claimed that Sean was a comedian and gave him the spotlight to say the joke "Where do sheep get their haircuts at? The baabaa shop." It got a few chuckles from the crowd.


Cristian continued to have the crowd say "Hi" to his brother Gavin throughout their set and during one of those instances he claimed, "Dance Gavin Dance, that was actually going to be our [band] name but that other guy took it first." Over the course of the show, the band's manager, Shelby, was documenting the show via video and photos, during an interval she went onto the stage to get a shot of the crowd and Cristian took a moment to shout her out, "Give it up for our manager, my girlfriend!"


Orion 224 closed out their set with the song that gave them a boost of fans with its rapid popularity, Everything Will Be Okay. A song that seems to be about coming to acceptance and reassuring oneself that everything is going to be okay after a breakup.


Overall the band had a lot of charisma with their stage presence and performance. It was sweet to witness the same fan who shouted out his name, Raymond, call out to Gavin for his drumstick as he himself is a drummer too and seeing Gavin run across the stage to personally hand it to him. This was my first time seeing Orion 224 live but I have seen over time, across social media, their impact on the Houston underground music scene and cannot wait to see how they grow over time.



Following Orion 224, was finally Vortxz. The band opened their set with one of my many favorites from them, Reality. I had listened to a few of Vortxz' songs before the show but honestly fell in love with the songs throughout the night and their first song Reality was no exception. The song is about the feeling of being lost in the past, chasing the feeling of what once was, and the acceptance that the fantasy of reminiscing is not reality, that is is an escape. The lyrics, the vocals, the instrumentals, it is all so captivating, you almost feel like you are inside that feeling of reminiscing as well. After Reality, the band transitioned into one of their unreleased songs, Rollercoaster. Much like Orion 224, Vortxz performed a handful of unreleased songs over the course of their set. They followed the song with yet another one of my favorites, Amor De Mentiras, which released just last year on September 15, 2023. The song has sensual vocals from the lead singer, Rambo, and an instrumental that pairs perfectly to have you entranced with the sound. The guitar riffs and the Spanish vocals give it the perfect Latino rock sound. It is a very passionate song about what seems to be a situationship or love that was not very reciprocated with a person who only "loves, love full of lies." The guitar solo at the very end of the song creates a perfect ending and representation of the emotions the situation created.

Following Amor De Mentiras, were two more unreleased songs, Memories and For You. While introducing For You, Rambo mentioned the song was one of his favorites and that he hoped the fans enjoyed it, he also asked that the crowd of fans turn on their phone flashlights, slowly the venue was lit by hundreds of phone lights. Right before Rambo started singing, I heard a fan yell out "We're here for you!" It was a very heart warming thing to experience. The song itself was a slow, beautiful rock song, with a sped up section in which you could see the fans flashlights go from swaying along to being waved/rocked around along to the music.


They played one more song, Rain, before they walked out to have a wardrobe change. As they walked out, a heartwarming audio played over the speakers of the band talking about the preparation for the show. It seems a video was supposed to play alongside the audio, but they may have had technical difficulties with it, as the lead guitarist Noe took it upon him to come up to the stage and announce what the video and audio would instead. The stage light shun on him perfectly, casting a white glow around him, adding to the warm love he was about to cast into the room. He announced that they would be playing a bunch of new songs (which they had just performed a couple of), that the fans could expect a full body of work this year, that they had a collaboration with Eucalyption that they would be premiering that very night, that it would be dropping at 11pm and that the fans could listen to the studio release on their way home, that they will be collaborating with EDM and producer Deorro and that they would be playing those songs after his speech. He took the time to thank the fans, "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everybody who found us on TikTok, on Instagram, wherever. You found us! You found us! We're a part of your lives now and thank you so much for all of that. Every single one of you here belongs, doesn't matter your background, doesn't matter what you look like. Vortxz is a place, Vortxz is every single one of you. And thank you for letting us be part of that, we love you guys." The fans were cheering throughout the entire speech, full of excitement and glee.


After the heartfelt speech, they transitioned into their song Find You and Haven't Been. These two songs were followed up by their first ever single, Galveston Beach. The song is full of upbeat fun lyrics as well as instrumentals that had the band, and the crowd, dancing around and singing along to. I feel it's very symbolic that the song that followed the performance of their very first single, was their new collab with Eucalyption, Me and You, which Noe had just announced songs earlier. Since Eucalyption were part of the line up, it only fit that they premiere the song on stage alongside them before its official release. The song is very very catchy, and is a vocalization about how they only get to see their love on the weekends due to putting their time into working to have money to survive, having money to give to their love and their relationship, as well as putting their time into their passions' growth. The repeated line of "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, coming with my money cause I just want to party, and I need Sunday, another party with me and You" shows that they'd rather just spend their everyday with their lover instead of just the weekends. Eucalyption's and Vortxz' combined influence created a great modern indie rock song, even Spotify knows it as they've featured the song on their "Fresh Finds" playlist.


They performed a few more songs to include three more of my favorites, that I think everyone should give a listen to, You Know That, Up and Down, and their rock version of Un x100To, originally by Grupo Frontera and one of today's great Latino talents, Bad Bunny. Although I like Bad Bunny, I had never heard the song before Vortxz' performance and have been genuinely in love with the song since. I have yet to listen to the original, but their cover is just beyond amazing. Rambo's voice portrays the heartbrokenness perfectly, the rock sound adds to it and makes it so pleasing to the ears. The lyrics to the song are fully in Spanish but they paint a story of a heartbroken man having only 1% battery left on their phone and wanting to use it to tell their past love how sorry they are, that they're acting like they moved on but they're just passing the time with someone else, that people telling them they've seen them happy is all a lie. Nothing makes the man happy anymore, only when he looks at videos and pictures he has of his past lover. He talks about how it seems she actually has moved on. Vortxz' version adds a sound that makes you feel like you're in the dimension of that feeling. Over the past two weeks since I saw their performance, I've been listening to it on a daily basis, as well as the other two.

The band as a whole were full of passion throughout their performance. Noe had a constant smile on his face, and wasn't afraid to shred the guitar, even directly to some of the other photographers at the show. The drummer, Jonathan, had a passionate drum solo that quite literally shook the stage. Mid solo, he took his shirt off to stop the restriction of the piece of clothes on his upper body and continued drumming heavily, this was during one of my aforementioned favorite songs, You Know That. However, Rambo caught my attention the most with the way his voice perfectly carries the amount of emotion the lyrics hold, his dancing along to their slow and romantic songs, his embodiment of an entire stage and taking the time to make sure he stayed hydrated throughout the show, and his portrayal of emotions with his facial expressions and use of his hands while singing. He interacted a lot with the fans, singing directly to them and even getting in the crowd with them at the very end of the show. The song the band intended to end their show on was their most popular song, My Love. Their execution of the song was electric, so much so that Rambo chose to go into the crowd nearing the end of it. While in the crowd, he high-fived a couple of fans, took ones phone and recorded himself singing into the camera, and just sang along with the fans.

 Vortxz ended their set with a cover of Mana's, a popular Mexican pop-rock band's song, Oye Mi Amor. The song erupted cheers of excitement from not only the crowd but myself as well. I've always loved Hispanic artists that incorporate Spanish not only into their music but of course their stage presence as well, not conforming to only marketing to one audience. They're keeping their heritage alive this way, as music is a very big part of Latino culture. They are adding to the impact of the Spanish language being incorporated into modern indie music as well. Artists like Cuco, The Marias, and Kali Uchis are all singers who transcend just one language and are popular among the world of Hispanic Indie Artists that incorporate both languages into their music. Vortxz are the next up and coming Hispanic indie artist to join that list, they'll surely be a Houston sweetheart group.