Let's Move On: Houston Doesn't Need a Central Live-Music Hub
Recently Rocks Off asked our writers what it would take for Houston to have a "great" music scene, if for no other reason to see what their ideas of a great scene were. The answers were so wide-ranging we had to split them into a few separate posts, but in one way or another several responses were all tied into the idea of how much infrastructure affects the local music scene.
Do you define "great music scene" as having a large number of diverse bands excellent within their own genre? Then the answer is yes. Mission accomplished. Let's have a drink. The Houston music scene is already fantastic.
Photos by Abrahan Garza Numbers is the rare local venue to cultivate a crowd that shows up regardless of who's playing.
I get the impression that when people mean "music scene" they mean music district, and the answer is no, it's never going to happen. Not unless some party-bus company decides to open a service that gets people in free in various venues all over town and offers to drive between them, every hour. We'll never be able to just casually stroll along any particular boulevard and pop in and out of clubs.
Then again, why would you want that exactly? That's not how you build a following or make money as a musician anyway, certainly not in this day and age. Personally, I think that having what people consider a great music scene will ultimately depend on being able to present bands to audiences that would have shown up to that venue regardless of who was playing.
Fitz's still does that a bit, as does Rudz, but no one has really harnessed social media to make their club "the place to be." No streaming broadcasts, few well-thought-out showcases (which is getting better), no Best of Fitz's Live Vol 1-13 releases. I remember avidly waiting for the comp discs from Numbers' goth bands. Where has that gone?
Until clubs start trying to brand themselves a little bit more, there's always going to be pressure on the bands to produce the audience entirely, and that's just so iffy now. JEF WITH ONE F
There's a lot more to this answer (and this question) than a simple yes or no. For one, most music scenes get known for something. For example, most of the bands emerging from Brooklyn right now are best labeled as dance-punk acts. Omaha is known for its ability to crank out indie acts with cult appeal.
Dosey Doe in The Woodlands has done quite well some distance from Central Houston.
And certainly, each music scene has its ability to produce diverse acts, but Houston hasn't really become known for one solid thing. Our biggest names, like them or not, span a number of genres from country to hip hop, and we've got everything in between.
But Houston's music scene shouldn't be rated simply on the amount of bands that come out of the city, or how big they eventually get. Instead, Houston has a number of thriving clubs in neighborhoods all over the city. While there are certain areas that host a few within walking distance (the cluster on Main Street, in the Warehouse District and on Westheimer), other areas of Houston such as Cypress, The Woodlands or Spring see just as many bands trying to break into the business. That alone should indicate that Houston's music scene has not only been thriving for years, but it will continue to fight in a "whatever it takes" fashion.
We also have women flooding the local scene with their talent, proving that this isn't a boys' game, and women have a place in rock. Some scenes, and even entire genres of music, aren't that accepting and welcoming. But Houston is home to bands like The Suffers, New York City Queens and The Tontons. Even better, these bands aren't just playing obscure clubs that nobody wants to go to. They're selling out shows left and right when they're not being invited by Free Press Summer Fest or Discovery Green to play for a massive audience.
We have some things to iron out, sure. But Houston clubs, venues and bars aren't leaving us much room for want. Instead, the people in the music scene are getting their hands dirty, hosting open-mike nights, free local shows with discount drinks and we've got block parties popping up at least twice a year.
So maybe we haven't found our "sound," but by being so inclusive, Houston has proven itself to not only be diverse in taste and sound, but that there really is something here for everyone. You just have to go out and find it; and you don't even have to look that hard. If that's not the making of a great music scene, then what is? ALYSSA DUPREE