Gas Up the Chainsaw: Ganxsta NIP Is Back

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Photo by Jody Perry
Ganxsta NIP at Numbers, 2012
When picturing Houston hip-hop, most fans are apt to conjure images of hedonistic success: candy paint, gold grills and a cup full of purple stuff. And why not? The good times roll on a set of wire-spoke rims down here. But from its very earliest days, the city's sound of the streets has contained its fair share of darker themes as well: Drugs. Misogyny. Murder. In the '80s and early '90s, especially, it wasn't all good in the 'hood.

Nowadays, most local MCs are content to rap around the edges of this heart of hip-hop darkness, careful not to stare into it too deeply. But in that same darkness there still dwells a man known as Ganxsta NIP.

His 1992 Rap-A-Lot debut, The South Park Psycho, pushed past the violent and gritty lyricism of MCs like Ice-T into a whole new territory of fucked up. Rhymes about chainsaws, cannibalism, dismemberment and necrophilia cast Ganxsta NIP as the villain in an auditory slasher movie. This wasn't hardcore rap; this was horrorcore. And like any good horror-movie villain, Ganxsta NIP always returns for another taste of blood.


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The Water's Fine at Longboard's, Galveston's Beachside Oasis

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Photo by Angelica Leicht
"Oh no, you guys! I totally forgot my shoes!"

A pretty blond woman has just jumped straight into the pool, forgetting her shoes in the process. She's signaling and screeching, but her many friends are too busy doubling over with laughter to assist.

"Seriously! Come on! Someone grab these!"

We're watching with amusement, but aren't sure whether to help her or let the situation play out. We opt for the latter.


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We Could All Use a Bit of Borgore in Our Lives, Even You Grown Folks

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Borgore
Stereo Live
June 5, 2014

It was right about the time that Borgore dropped the modern brostep classic that is Skrillex's remix of Nero's "Promises" that I found myself on the second level of Stereo Live thinking about young-adult novels. I realize this is a weird thing to be thinking about while those perfect noises play, but hear me out.

There's a really dumb article over at Slate that argues that grown folks shouldn't read young-adult novels because there are plenty of grown-folks books that you could be reading instead. I found myself wondering if this extends to music as well.

Here I am, up at 12:40 a.m. on a work night in a packed crowd listening to Borgore spin all manner of bass tracks, and I've never once listened to a Bob Dylan album, don't know a single Smiths song other than "How Soon Is Now?" and the only thing I know about Neutral Milk Hotel is that that guy really loves Anne Frank.

But you know what? YOLO. Borgore puts on a damn fun show, and -- revoke my music critic card if you must -- sometimes that's way better than sitting at home listening to the classics.

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Pearl Lounge, the Laid-Back Utopia in Washington Ave's Chaos

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Photos by Angelica Leicht

'Oooh, here comes another one!"

Short skirts, tan legs and high heels are all over Washington Avenue this Friday night, and ladies sporting those accessories keep walking in here at a steady pace. But unlike at Nox or Hughes Hangar, for example, the time the skirts spend in Pearl Lounge (4216 Washington) is a bit more limited.

"Hey, here she comes! She's totally in the wrong place."

A pretty young couple, Liz and Terry, sit at the bar intensely watching for more patrons to stroll in the door. Those heels and skirts are a big indicator of who might be misplaced, and the couple has made a guessing game out of it.

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Band of Skulls at Warehouse Live, 5/13/2014

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Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Band of Skulls
Warehouse Live
May 13, 2013

I'm not sure what it is, whether it be the accent or the rich history of rock and roll, but for some reason you're just cooler if you're British and in a band. Think in your head what your definition of "rock star" is, and I assure you that they'll speak with an English diction.

Jagger, Clapton, Yorke, McCartney, Bowie, Plant or Page: all are infinitely cooler than anything that's come out of the U.S. (save for Hendrix). So whenever a band hails from the UK, it's much easier to fall in love with them for some odd reason.

Band of Skulls come from England. That might be why they were so damn good. Or for the many other reasons; specifically, the amount of noise that emanated from the three instruments onstage. For an hour and a half, the three Skulls rattled our ears with loud psychedelic blues-rock a la The Black Keys or The Black Angels (or any other band with 'black' in its title, I guess) that had no problem roughing up the crowd at Warehouse Live.


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Dick Dale at Continental Club, 4/17/2014

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Photos by Jim Bricker
Dick Dale
Continental Club
April 17, 2014

Walking into the Continental Club, I had the thought: "Can Dick Dale still do it at 76 years old?" I mean, I know folks younger that can't even send an email, let alone rip a guitar like it's going out of style. But I would soon find out that not only can he still play, but his guitar riffs sounded cleaner than ever.

Dale, who has had an off-and-on relationship with music since the late 1950s, likes to keep it simple, and proved that Thursday during a 90 minute set of mostly covers to an overly packed room. He doesn't need all the bells and whistles of modern technology -- just give him his Fender and a classic amp and he'll walk all over the youngsters trying to replicate his style today.


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Miami After Dark: H-Town Goes to South Beach

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Photos by Marco Torres
This past week, I packed my bags and headed east to Miami, that gorgeously naughty city in South Florida that rivals New York City and Los Angeles in its beauty and nightlife. The purpose was a professional one, a marketing and interactive conference for Latinos. But aside from the seminars and gift bags and networking, the most adventurous and rewarding time at any conference or festival is always the afterparty.

Below are just some of the extracurricular activities that had me dancing, and the soundtrack that accompanied them:


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All Dogs Go to Heaven. The Boneyard Is a Close Second.

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
"Man, just let him...his humping isn't hurting anybody."

Some pretty epic humping is going on while we sip an Abita Grapefruit IPA. What started off as a twosome now involves four or five participants rolling around the dirt in a dog pile. Literally.

Those risque entanglements are not unusual here, though. The Boneyard Drinkery is Houston's only dog-park bar meant to house such promiscuous activity. (Among the dogs, anyway.) Scattered around picnic benches in the backyard area, the owners are much better behaved.

Evenly split between men and women, we're all dressed as if we were taking our pets out for a day at the park rather than a night on the town. The Boneyard is all about the dogs; the beer and socialization is just an added bonus for their human companions.


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Saint Genevieve's Party Brunch: Like a Club, With Mimosas

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
Frida Kahlo once said, "I tried to drown my sorrows but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling."

If those sorrows are going to learn to swim, they're going to have to do so in the pitchers of bottomless mimosas flying past our heads at record speed at Saint Genevieve. We've never seen as much champagne as at this very moment, nor as much orange juice,either. The bottomless drinks at this place might as well come in buckets, which would certainly save the servers some time.

Kahlo's quote would fit almost any bar, but is especially appropriate for this River Oaks Sunday hotspot, where a new generation of brunchers goes to work out those weekend emotional kinks. This particular Sunday we're propped up at a high-top table, taking in the newest addition to Houston's brunch scene in all its glory.


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Gemini on the Wane: Main Street's Bar Twins, Dean's & Notsuoh, Head in Opposing Directions

Categories: After Dark

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Photos by Angelica Leicht

"Excuse me, but do you hear that too? Is that people having sex? What the hell is that noise?"

A large group of men in suits has just entered a small downtown bar, and they're looking around with confusion, presumably puzzled by the voices drowning out Pimp C's rapping. As eerily similar as the late UGK MC's rhymes are to certain noises made by overzealous romantic partners, most of us know better. It's just the slam poetry going on in Notsuoh, this bar's next-door neighbor.

We are sitting at Dean's Credit Clothing, which has traditionally been seen as a sister bar to Notsuoh. For many years the two bars shared an owner, Jim Pirtle, who installed an interior door between them that rendered the two nearly inseparable, as did his love of quirky, eclectic d├ęcor. But now Pirtle is long gone, at least where Dean's is concerned.

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