What: The Tontons
When: 11 p.m. Friday
Where: Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer St., Denver, 303-291-1007
More info: larimerlounge.com
T he Tontons have become local heroes in their hometown of Houston and the band’s current tour is generating buzz well outside of the city limits.
In the next few weeks, blues-tinged psych rockers will play 13 shows in major cities in Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Colorado and conclude the tour in a slot at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Ala. The band will visit Denver’s Larimer Lounge on Friday.
However, some of the loudest buzz about the band came closer to home, though, at South by Southwest in Austin, where The Tontons were a band to watch.
South by Southwest even featured the musicians on its site, writing, “It’s refreshing to hear a band that really understands how to work within the limits of each song.”
The crew played 11 showcases and parties during the festival, including P. Diddy’s Rags2Riches showcase.
The band’s been building momentum since its 2009 self-titled debut LP, followed by the 2011 EP Golden. This February, the quartet released a 7-inch titled Bones, and they sound better and happier than ever.
“We’re definitely kind of trying to define our sound and I think kind of where it’s going is a little brighter,” singer Asli Omar said.
Part of which Omar — whose strong and distinct vocals play a big part in The Tontons appeal — attributes to positive experiences on the road. The other part is just about enjoying themselves.
“It’s, over the years, our experiences meeting people and being influenced by different bands and different sounds all over America,” Omar said. “It’s part of evolving as a band, but also a conscious decision on our behalf and making music that we want to listen to. We don’t want to be sad, you know?”
The first records weren’t particularly dreary, but the two songs on the newer Bones, “Bones 1” and “Bones 2,” are noticeably more upbeat. “One of these days, we’ll have some kids, picket fences, mortgages … but today’s not that day / and I’m not that girl / I’ve got time / I’ve got the whole wide world,” Omar sings on the first track.
The song’s bouncy bass and drums from Tom Nguyen and Justin Martinez, playful riffs and pop melodies from Adam Martinez make for a catchy, cheery lead-in to “Bones 2,” which starts as a sultry slow-burner and builds up to a psych rock peak.
When the next album comes out, expect more of that.
“It’s been wonderful. [The crowds] are receiving it really well,” Omar said. “We’re working on a full-length and the 7-inch is just a taste of it.”
When Omar called, the band was sitting in a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles and she was nothing but enthusiastic, even when she learned how cold it would be when they got to Denver. Everything is “really great, honestly.”
The psych rock might be bluesy, but The Tontons are not.