VIDEO: Jose Figueroa Is Still Dancing

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Jose Figueroa is still dancing. The Channelview high-school teacher we told you about earlier this month, whose goal was not only to dance to live music every single night for a solid year but also to make a documentary film about it, says he's not much closer to recovering the equipment that was stolen from his car last month, but still believes he might be able to complete the project nonetheless.

Although Figueroa says the police still haven't been able to turn up any information that might lead to getting his stuff back, a friend has donated a video camera that should allow him to complete a crucial part of the process - the introductory video required of Kickstarter users to start one of the crowd-based Web site's fundraising campaigns.

"Not nearly as compact as my GoPro, but a very generous loan that I'm truly grateful for," he notes.


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Insane Clown Posse at Warehouse Live, 10/13/2014

Categories: After Dark

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Insane Clown Posse, Mushroomhead, Da Mafia 6ix, Hoodoo, Madchild, Jelly Roll
Warehouse Live
October 13, 2014

Let us be honest with each other for a moment, dear reader. The reality is that when it comes to high culture thinking there is nothing left to say on the subject of Insane Clown Posse and/or Juggalos. As a musical group, ICP exists in that same world that Nickelback and Miley Cyrus inhabit, which is to say if you've heard of them you already have an opinion on them and there's a good chance you're just reading this for freak-show value. Unless, of course, you like ICP and just want to know what you missed. Either way, welcome to the blog.

As for Juggalos, all rational, well-mannered folk know that they're just a bunch of regular people who happened to find a family of like-minded individuals all united by the fact that they really love when clowns sing about murder. So yes, I guess I am sort of saying that the FBI aren't rational and that making fun of Juggalos for having passion for something on a level we should all be jealous of is a bit lame.

As such, trying to find an "angle" to talk ICP as some greater concept just sounds exhausting. And besides, if Violent J were here right now he'd tell me the follow: "Fuck critics, fuck your review."

So instead, let's look at what it's like spending an evening with Houston's Juggalos in 2014.


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Houston's 10 Best Bars to Take Out-of-Towners

Categories: After Dark

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If you don't recognize this register, we're glad you're here. How long are you in town?
So you've got out-of-towners coming in -- old friends, relatives, business prospects from Minneapolis, Titans fans in for a hit-and-run NFL weekend, or whatever. Now the burden is upon you, the local-scene guru, to show them the town. You've told them how great Houston is, how much you enjoy living here, and recently every national publication on the planet has supported you in this assertion.

So it's put up or shut up time. Whether they're sophisticates from Boston, San Francisco or L.A.; denizens of uber-cool bike-friendly enclaves like Seattle, Portland, Santa Fe or Brooklyn; or just your long-lost cousins from farms in Iowa or Kentucky or oilfield burgs like Midland or Tulsa, the pressure is on to show your guests that Houston isn't a swampy version of Sodom and Gomorrah or some sizzling, humid, un-zoned urban hellhole where we drive down Main Street firing semi-automatic assault rifles on the way to our oil wells and cattle ranches.

So here are some tips. First of all, unless they are the straightest, most boring, megachurch-attending Stepford people ever or here with an unlimited expense-account/"business promotion" boondoggle, don't take them to trendy new upscale places where the ice in the drinks costs more than valet parking, and valet is the only kind of parking you'll find. Your money would be better spent drinking a can of cheap Sofia Coppola champagne out of a hooker's high-heel shoe on Irvington Blvd. at 4:30 a.m.


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Drink Like an Adult at El Patio's Club No Minors

Categories: After Dark

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Photos by Sean McManus
Tino and Jose would like to welcome you to Club No Minors.
Driving anywhere near the Galleria is about as miserable as reliving the terrible events of the Houston Texans' abysmal 2013 season; I shudder at the very thought. The area is always an overcrowded cesspool, swamped with traffic and plenty of tourists trying to find parking for the Cheesecake Factory.

But that's exactly what happened on a recent Thursday-night trek to the west side. Tucked inside an El Patio Mexican restaurant in one of the area's many small shopping centers is a hidden gem.

"Remember the first time you walked into the Club No Minors? Nope? Then we've done our job." That's exactly how the El Patio at 6444 Westheimer describes its "club" on its website. My interest is piqued from the get-go.


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Royal Blood at Warehouse Live, 9/23/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Royal Blood, Meg Myers
Warehouse Live Studio
September 23, 2014

Playing Lollapalooza and SXSW is one thing. But to be a true buzz band, you've got to generate the kind of heat that can draw a big crowd to a club on a Tuesday night in flyover country. By that standard, at least, Royal Blood has arrived.

The U.K. garage duo is less than a month removed from the release of their first full-length, but appreciation for their hard-edged guitar punch is spreading fast. Last night, the Warehouse Live Studio filled up with fans eager to find out if these guys really can be the rock and roll saviors they've already been branded as by the NME set.

Before Houston could get its first look at the pair, however, we were treated to another intriguing, rising talent. A Los Angeleno by way of Tennessee, Meg Myers is blessed with the sort of rich and elastic voice that simply begs to be applied to rock and roll. Flitting between a breathy whisper and an anguished shout, the singer occupies a sonic territory somewhere between Fiona and Alanis, and she's got stage moves enticing enough to keep a Tuesday night crowd enthralled.

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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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