Downtown Houston: A Love Story Set to Music

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Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
There is literally music in the streets of downtown Houston.
Late last year, my day job moved its offices from Woodway to Downtown Houston. Even though it meant a 60-mile round-trip commute (no, I never get to work on time), I was excited to be leaving the sleepy boredom of Tanglewood for the thrill of life downtown.

I couldn't have been better matched if Tinder had hooked me up with these sometimes pensive and sometimes wild streets, dressed in their long, sexy shadows. OK Cupid couldn't have connected me quicker to these sauntering Houstonians and the rushing crowds of urban professionals they share the sidewalks with.

I'm smitten. And because any romance I've ever embarked upon that's been worth a damn has included music, I've begun to notice just how much courses through downtown's two square miles.


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Tiƫsto, Guetta, Hardwell & Aoki Headed to South Padre's UME

Categories: Bayou Beat

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Photo by Marco Torres
Let's See How He Does at the Beach: Steve Aoki at Bayou Music Center, October 2013
Leaving the sights and beats extravaganza known as Lights All Night is simple enough, minus one thing: running the gauntlet of street teamers braving cold temperatures to pass out flyers. Those shiny pieces of advertising are a part of any dance music experience these days because before the one you're at ends there's always another party to look forward to.

And so in the first half of 2015 there are all sorts of things to get excited about, if that's you're thing: Something Wonderful in Dallas (no acts announced), Euphoria in Dallas Austin (Pretty Lights headlines) and Ultimate Music Experience in South Padre, who are not playing around when it comes to their 2015 lineup.


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RL Grime and Lunice Prove to Be Monsters of Bass

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Photos by Julian Bajsel
Behold, the hivemind.
RL Grime, Lunice
Warehouse Live
December 10, 2014

From recognizable forms such as trap and dubstep to the (potentially made up) more nebulous genres like deathstep and heaven trap, bass music is on the rise. While it may not have its hooks into popular culture the way that more established genres like house and trance do, if you've spent any time at dance shows over the past few years, you'll have noticed more and more bass music.

Teens and young adults love the stuff. This is no surprise, as the current generation is one of the first that has known rap music their entire life. Rap isn't edgy or foreign anymore; if it's good enough for Tim McGraw, it's good enough for Middle America.


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Retro Musicians Still Make Houston Swing

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Photos by Lynn Lane
Photo courtesy of Bart Maloney
Bart Maloney has a steely gaze to go with his steel guitar.
Louis Armstrong once said, "The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago."

Bittersweet in its achy nostalgia, the saying is quite fitting for some of Houston's retro musicians. On vintage instruments, these players resurrect the memory of music long gone, bringing new life to the words of Etta James or Bob Wills, paying homage to the old swing and jazz greats.


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Phillip Zimmerle Puts Down Love Knife, Adds Cello

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Courtesy of Phillip Zimmerle
Phillip Alan Zimmerle doing his Mandroid thing at Jet Lounge
Former Love Knife guitarist Phillip Zimmerle has swerved again. A Baton Rouge native with a creative writing degree from L.S.U., Zimmerle has recently been working with his drummer and wife Mary Beth Zimmerle in a new duo called Black Lodge. But Friday night at Khon's, Zimmerle will fulfill a dream he's had since high school when he first began writing songs: playing acoustic versions of his songs accompanied by a cello.

Zimmerle will be joined by cellist Geneva Gordon. A UH art school graduate, Gordon is a former Rockets dancer as well as longtime bartender at Under the Volcano. This will be her first gig in some time.


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[Video] EDM Fans Turn Out for Something Wicked 2014

It's been interesting to watch Something Wicked grow over the past three years. Walking into the festival on Saturday, it was easy to forget that in the grand scheme of things it's still a very young fest. Quite frankly, between the lineup and the stage designs, the people behind the festival have done a real good job making it feel like an Event as opposed to Just Another Houston Music Festival.

That's probably why it attracted folks from all over the state and beyond to attend. On social media, there were tweets of people spending 12 hours in a car just to rage in Houston. Not bad for a city that isn't particularly associated with EDM.


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Beach Blanket Bingo Festival In Galveston, 8/23/2014

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Beach Blanket Bingo Festival
Feat. Dillon Francis, Adrian Lux, Paris Blohm, etc.
East Beach, Galveston Island
August 23rd, 2014

While it probably happens more frequently in different parts of the world, an EDM bash at the beach is not a regular occurrence in our neck of the woods. This is a bummer, because the meeting of dance music and sand makes of a lot of sense, especially when you consider that plenty of folks wear beachwear to dance shows as it is.

Of course, in order to have a beach show one has to get to the beach, and maybe therein is the issue. Driving to Galveston isn't exactly difficult, but the stretch of 45 from Houston until the Buc-ee's in Texas City can be maddening if you're the type who hates traffic, as most of us are.

Still, it's all worth it once you feel the wind in your hair and the bass in your ears. On a warm night, Beach Blanket Bingo proved to be one of the highlights of the soon (we hope) to be ending summer.

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Something Wicked's 2014 Lineup + Five Sets We're Looking Forward to

Categories: Bayou Beat

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You gotta hand it to Disco Donnie Presents and Nightculture: they know how to put together a solid lineup of music. The decision to expand Something Wicked to two days might have seemed weird at first, but in the year 2014, aka The Year That Houston Went Festival Crazy, it makes perfect sense. In the arms race for festival dollars, you can't play it safe anymore. As such, it's nice to see DDPNC putting together a lineup big on acts we actually want to check out.

Sure, it's a little weird that Dillon Francis is coming back so soon after next week's Beach Blanket Bingo, and yeah, maybe we eyerolled at Kaskade as a headliner again, but all in all there's a lot to like with this lineup. In particular, we're looking forward to...


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Foam Wonderland Feat. Carnage at NRG Arena, 8/1/14

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Photos by J. Tovar
Carnage
NRG Arena
August 1st, 2013

Foam Wonderland did not end with some giant, faux-orgasmic tidal wave of foam engulfing an excited crowd an hour and a half deep into a set from Carnage. Whether or not that was the plan we'll never know, because it ended half an hour early, the crowd being told that the cops were pulling the plug because there had been some "issues."

This was a bummer, of course, but not as big of a bummer as you might guess. That's not to say that people weren't upset, but it wasn't like there was about to be a foam-covered mob taking to the streets screaming "fuck the police."

After five and a half hours of dance music and foam explosions, it's hard to be super angry about anything. Especially when you're wearing a bathing suit and covered in foam.


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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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