Could Houston Ever Work as an EDM Capital?

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Photo by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott/Flickr Commons
Could Houston handle this?
Following last month's troubles at Miami's Ultra Music Festival, the city's mayor considered banning the event.

More than 100 people were treated by paramedics and there were nearly as many arrests, including 30 carrying felony charges, problems that were amplified when a security guard was trampled by festival-goers. She suffered serious injuries from which she is still recovering.

Miami's leaders have since had a change of heart, so it appears the event will remain in South Beach for now. But while they were considering the ban, major American metropolitan cities must have considered bidding on the lucrative festival. Last year alone, it infused more than $200 million into Miami's economy and generated thousands of jobs.

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But if it came to pass, would Houston be a good relocation destination? Two local artists, dj NIMBUS and Jason Walsh, a core member of live electronic act DEAD P.A., have attended past Ultra Music Festivals and the Winter Music Conference, also part of Miami Music Week. They both agreed Miami is the best place for Ultra and its peripheral events

"The bar has been set too high for too long," says dj NIMBUS. "Honestly, I don't know anywhere that could reproduce what Ultra or WMC is and is as appealing as Miami. Our city's rules are way too strict for such an event. Most of the events go well past 2 a.m., and some of them start at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. and roll over till 10 a.m. or later. Noise restrictions would kill it alone. Not to mention, no sunrise cruise parties or beachfront events."

"Houston certainly has everything necessary to handle an event the size and scope of Ultra, but the cultural and economic potential will remain in question until city officials come to realize what the music industry has known for some time, [that] electronic music and festivals mean big money," offers Walsh. "Local authorities and city officials have traditionally impeded progress for the growth of the culture, but this would be no surprise to anyone that remembers the original Westheimer Street Festival or the subjective 'enforcement' of the Houston Noise Ordinance.

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Photo by Power Quevedo, courtesy of dj NIMBUS
dj NIMBUS
"If Wakarusa in Ozark, Arkansas, can draw tens of thousands to their electronic stages, I see no reason the fourth largest city in the United States shouldn't be competitive," he adds. "Houston has been considered a mecca before in regard to certain subgenres of EDM and bass music, and with the talent and infrastructure we have, it could easily host a thriving annual event."

Walsh's act formed in 2003 and features original electronic music, with onstage vocals, percussion and synths; he's now preparing for a slate of summer tour dates. dj NIMBUS is a fixture in Houston house music, and a featured DJ on globalhousemovement.com. He spins live at Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant and Café 4212 on the first and fourth Fridays of the month, respectively.

Both feel Houston isn't ready to host hundreds of thousands of dance-music fans or the weeklong parade of parties that come with an event like Ultra. They did agree we have some strengths to build upon, though.

"Houston is no stranger to bringing international talent, but events of this scale tend to create a lot of peripheral benefits for regional artists, DJs, promoters, venues, sound and lighting companies and venues in their wake," Walsh says. "This means the tide rises for everyone, and one of the cool things about this scene is that commercialism will never crowd out the underground revolution of the music because there is a fresh batch of artists and DJs pushing a completely new sound every ten minutes."


Story continues on the next page.



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17 comments
Cecilia Pena
Cecilia Pena

do it houston do it Rufiya B Valerie Linares lol

David Shulman
David Shulman

fuck no. i lived in miami. clubs and the edm scene in houston dont even come close to comparing to miami. and honestly i hope they never do for that matter.

Sheena Williams
Sheena Williams

Every time the electronics scene gets too big, something always comes along to stop it. If it's not the cops or noise ordinances, it's something.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

Let us hope not. Anthony Bourdain's recent comments re. EDM: "It's a DJ's wrold and where once they used to say 'Cocaine is God's way of saying you have too much money,' now maybe EDM is," he said with no reservations "Come ye lords and princelings of douchedom, Hear my clarion call. Anointeth thyself with gel and heavenly body spray. Maketh the sign of the devil horns with thine hands. Let there be high-fiving and the hugging of many bros, for this is the kingdom and the power." There, he said it: d-bag music. His other point is that it is sucking the money out from under live music. Anyone who is in favor of that is just wrong-headed about art vs. commerce. Take that stuff back to Miami and Vegas..

h_e_x
h_e_x

I wouldn't mind seeing it bring in more djs, but I think we have more than enough edm here. Some good dance music is always welcome, but I don't think we need anymore music that lacks creativity. There is a lack of creativity in edm, but not so much in dance music, which is why we should bring in more dance music and keep the edm at bay. I'm tired of seeing people play megamixes on laptops, which is what happens at these large edm festivals. 

Els RS
Els RS

centralized hotels, camping, good transportation routes and somewhat relaxed on people using recreational drugs and alcohol. Doubt it could work. well you definitely couldn't put a festival like Coachella in Houston. They have been doing an EDM festival at Sam Houston Park. That seems to be doing well.

Lex Perez
Lex Perez

I agree with the article. Wmc and ultra is rooted in Miami, Houston needs it's own deal. I've noticed FPSF has been getting traction over the years.

Wayward Shepherd
Wayward Shepherd

It was host to some pretty amazing raves. Beyond, The Electric Highway, Experience to name a few, so yes it will work.

h_e_x
h_e_x

Good point to bring up. Reminds me of what happened to raves in the early 2000's. New penalties at the time held the venue owner and promoter for whatever was found on an event. That certainly didn't help.

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