The Axiom, Part 2: Venue Cast Long Shadow Over Houston
Thursday Rocks Off talked to three people behind this weekend's Axiom reunion -- former owner J.R. Delgado, Rivethead magazine's Lisa Sullivan and ex-Axiom publicist/co-manager Julie Grob -- about the club that was Houston's underground-rock headquarters. They set the scene, a vivid tableau of everyone from Mudhoney and Social Distortion to deadhorse and Cave Reverend onstage and packs of wild dogs roaming the then-deserted East End streets.
Photo by Ben DeSoto/ courtesy of Lisa Sullivan The Jesus Lizard at the Axiom
For Part 2, we asked them to talk about the Axiom's rich legacy, and the shadow it continues to cast over successive Houston music scenes.
Rocks Off: What kind of shadow do you think the Axiom cast on successive "scenes" around Houston?
Lisa Sullivan: I think successive scenes did not have the camaraderie that we had. We all depended on one another and looked out for each other. There was a sense of being in this together. The Maggot Colony solidified that. When it opened up as a rehearsal studio it took on a life of its own. The kids all came there to practice and they never left. It was a block from the Axiom and everyone just commuted back and forth.
I think if anything, it didn't cast a shadow; it set an example for others to emulate.
Julie Grob: I don't know the answer to that. I just wanted to mention that there was another axis for the Axiom besides Francisco Studios which was Lexington St., where a number of bands like Sprawl and Dry Nod and de Schmog lived and practiced.
LS: I don't, but I am still somewhat removed from the scene. I see that camaraderie when these shows happen but it's those of our generation and now, our kids. I think there was more of a sense of unity back then.
Society seems to have polarized us more these days and keeps our youth busy with electronics and gadgets, so the interdependence has diminished. I would like to see it happen again. I know there are some who are trying. I met this kid at Walters -- from Austin -- who has an online site for punk bands who is trying to make connections. It's kids like that who will bring it about.
JRD: I still go out to see local live music and I believe the music scene is going great. There are some great bands of all genres really having momentum here. I also think there are many great venues these days. Fitzgerald's - Omar [Afra] is doing great things for the scene. We also have Walters, Mango's, Rudyard's, Notsuoh, Super Happy Fun Land, Continental Club, Dan Electro's, Last Concert, and a few others, all great venues promoting live music and art.
We even have Cactus, Vinal Edge, and Sound Exchange promoting the scene with in-store performances. Although Houston does not come close to rivaling Austin's music scene, we do have a vibriant music scene. But, I don't see any venue coming close to what the Axiom had going - the scene was small, it was before grunge and punk became mainstream, before low-tolerance from city officials (noise ordinance).
JG: I agree with JR that the music scene was different then. Underground rock and metal and punk felt really important, because there wasn't a lot of it on the charts. The rock music on the radio was stuff like Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses. So to go to the Axiom to see something like the Jesus Lizard or Fugazi was really exciting. Then in 1991 Nirvana broke out with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the major labels brought underground rock into the mainstream.