25 More Legendary Houston Music Venues
When Rocks Off published our choices for "Houston's Top 25 Closed Music Venues" back in July, we knew all along there would be a Part 2. We just didn't know how many were left. Today, after excavating the memories of 25 more, we're still probably not done.
Photo courtesy of Bruce Kessler/Rockinhouston.com The Jacksons' "Victory" tour hits the Astrodome, November 1984
Please let us know what else we missed, and we'll keep it going.
After Washington Avenue metal haven the Vatican closed its doors in the early '90s, it was reopened as the Abyss and continued to host sweaty thrashers and doom merchants until 1998 when the money ran out.
What many headbangers seem to remember most about the joint was its total lack of air-conditioning, which made every show a sweaty endurance test. The place was meant to hold fewer than 300 people, but many more than that were regularly crammed into the dilapidated space to see and hear the likes of Marilyn Manson, Weezer, Mercyful Fate, Neurosis and plenty others. NATHAN SMITH
This haunted house on Alabama near Kirby with its second-story bar was Houston home base for the True Believers, whose shows brought out a fire-code-flouting throng that bounced and hopped and danced so much it seemed like the building might just shake apart.
Irish manager/booker Angela Mullan had an ear that was just ahead of trends, and always made room for hard working locals. On good nights, the long metal staircase up the back of the building supported half the ganja smokers in town. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Photo courtesy of Bruce Kessler/rockinhouston.com
These days, local officials seem plum out of ideas on what to do with the former Eighth Wonder of the World, but at one time, the Dome was one of the premiere venues of any kind on the planet. In addition to its regular usage as Earth's first air-conditioned sporting palace, the Astrodome played host to some huge concerts over the years, particularly during the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Elvis Presley played to more than 200,000 fans during a run of six shows in the Dome in 1970, and Michael Jackson filled the place up at the height of his powers alongside his brothers on the Jacksons' legendary Victory Tour. Tejano-pop queen Selena appeared headed for crossover superstardom when she sold out the Astrodome during her final Rodeo appearance in 1995, barely a month before her death. NATHAN SMITH
Photo courtesy of MJ Holley
We got more feedback about Billy Blues' omission from our first list than any other venue. The idea of a big, brassy blues club was quite a bit more viable 20 years ago than today. and much respect to The Big Easy for keeping the dream alive in Houston. Back in the '90s, Billy Blues was one of the Richmond Strip's flagship clubs, as known for the solid mix of local, regional and national acts that performed there as the giant saxophone out front. CHRIS GRAY
One frozen night in the early late 1980s -- one of those rare nights when it actually froze in Houston -- I saw my life flash before my eyes on the metal fire escape that led from Blythe Spirts to the street below. Helping a friend haul gear down the steps after a gig, I envisioned myself slipping on the icy stairs and being crushed by a refrigerator-sized bass cabinet. Fortunately, I lived to tell the story and remember what a cool place the upstairs pub (now it's Cecil's) on West Gray used to be.
There were plenty of folk acts that graced the stage and an open mike that often brought out the who's who of Houston songwriters, but even loud rock bands like Kings X would occasionally rattle the walls and collapse ear drums. JEFF BALKE
List continues on the next page.