The Rocks Off 200: Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Rocks Off wouldn't say we know Phil Peterson that well, but we do know that he is one of the most unique personalities we've come across in our seven-plus years of covering the Houston music scene. Every time we run into him, which is at roughly every third concert where at least one local act is on the bill, Peterson is there and usually brimming with enthusiasm about one of the upcoming shows he's promoting.
Photos courtesy of Phil Peterson Phil Peterson outside Houston House of Creeps
So local musicians and bands, Peterson is a good guy to know, because he is a better conduit into the local scene than just about anyone else in town. Through his AR*V company, he promotes shows at grass-roots venues like Notsuoh and the Alley Kat, places that are (thanks to him) willing to take a chance on experimental or just inexperienced acts. He also has a hand in booking the heavily local multi-act/multi-venue festivals that have appeared in recent years such as the Main Street Block Party and Yes Indeed!, which relocates to the Continental Club/Big Top/Alley Kat Mid-Main compound next month.
Even better, once Peterson has booked a show, his years of experience as a musician, stagehand and sound engineer means he knows exactly how to make the acts he's booked sound the way they're supposed to. He grew up in several different areas of Houston -- "East End/Second Ward by way of Spring Branch, Katy, the Galleria and Montrose (in that order)," he notes -- which could have something to do with the eclectic nature of the events with which he involves himself. Some of them have a rough theme, like last weekend's "Glitch/Hop/Tronica" bill at Numbers (sorry we missed that one, Phil), but just as often they're a true grab bag.
"[I'm] fully dedicated to the concept of musical entertainment as an energy exchange between stage and audience," Peterson says. "My goal it to always ensure a situation for artists where they can focus all their energy into their music/performance, a memorable/pleasant/fulfilling experience for [the] audience, and success for the venue.
"Mixing of genres and acts that have not performed together before, to 'cross-pollinate' amongst fans of different acts, and that includes introducing acts to each other," he adds. "There is no higher compliment to me than when fans, artists and venue are all feeling a vibe and finding joy in the moment."
Home Base: "Anywhere with free Wifi," the well-traveled Peterson grins. Short of that, he'll take Poison Girl and/or AvantGarden in Montrose, Bohemeo's/Voodoo Queen on the Eastside, Notsuoh downtown (figures) or the Alley Kat/Continental Club two-step in Midtown.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Because the level of talent in all creative/artistic endeavors is fucking incredible," Peterson says. "And I want to be part of developing that talent, and all my friends are here. Even though some do leave, I think the opportunities and potential for success is absolutely limitless."
Good War Story: "My lawyers have advised me [not] to discuss, until pending litigation is over," he says.
Very funny, Phil.
"Honestly, the usual...," Peterson insists. "Onstage band fights, venues double-booked, equipment failure..."
That seems to jog his memory.
This reminds me way back when Axxis was active (barely out of high school), we went down to play SPI Fest [on] South Padre Island during Spring Break. I think Spunk was co-headlining (yes -- I am old), and we were last act of a two-day festival.
The promoters didn't have any money, so they were letting security get drunk on the keg beer. There was one mike, for the band (we were a trio, and all sang), and we played on "stage" made of pallets. A band that had played earlier had been bragging about how much acid they had brought...well, during our first song, during the breakdown one of them came up onstage, completely out of his head, [and] started to scream into the mike turned around, did a Jesus Christ pose, and just let himself fall face first into the drums.
Needless to say, our drummer came up off his throne to throw him off the kit, as at the same time I grabbed him by the hair and so both of us literally threw him back into the crowd, which by then was just a huge mosh pit. I knew he was so fucked up that if we beat him to a pulp, he wasn't even gonna notice. So that was frustrating, LMAO.
Story continues on the next page.