35 Years of Numbers Memories: A Unique Place For Touring Acts

Categories: Gothtopia

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Photo Courtesy of Bruce Kessler/Rockinhouston.com
The Cult at Numbers in April 1986
This week we are celebrating the 35 years of history that surrounds one of Houston's longest-running music venues. Wednesday it was a look at the excellent and vibrant local goth scene that set up shop in the club in the '90s and early '00s. Today we discuss another facet of Numbers that has always helped ensure its survival, its unique size and accessibility to bands.

I'm not sure what Numbers' official capacity is, but it's at least 1,000 people. Considering the large, roomy dance floor, it's rare for a concert to feel overly cramped and claustrophobic, leading to more relaxed audiences. More than that, the Numbers stage is enormous and fully capable of supporting large set-pieces without sacrificing movement for the performers. Basically, you get a stadium-lite feel in a more intimate surrounding that has made the venue the perfect fir for up-and-coming acts as well as special appearances by established artists outside a major venue.


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35 Years of Numbers Memories: The Titans of Local Goth

Categories: Gothtopia

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That was a long time ago: Numbers before Numbers, c. 1976-77
The week, Numbers turns an impressive 35 years-old, making it one of the oldest clubs in Houston to stay at the same location. It's an institution; there can be no argument about that. To celebrate, we're bringing you three solid days of memories related to the old girl, who continues to move forward providing Houston with it's one-of-a-kind dance and concert experience.

I'll start.

Despite now being the unofficial journalistic spokesman of the Houston goth scene, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the club. I'd gone as a young, angsty teenager, but teenagers in dance clubs suck even when you are one. It was only as my wife and I were winding up our time as members of a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast and looking for a new place to haunt that she finally convinced me to go spend a few nights at Carmina Bell's Underworld nights.

Honestly, it took a lot of time to find a home there. As the song says, Kompressor does not dance, and I only took up drinking seriously when I started writing because it's like a law. Still, I made friends, most of whom I still have to this day, and all of whom made it a point to paint the night with dark fascination.

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Underworld Gets a Cyber Sister Night at Numbers

Categories: Gothtopia

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DJ IEnigma
For a guy that makes his living covering the local music and art scene here in Houston I don't go out much. The wife is in school, and night time is when she studies while I bribe our child into dinner and bed. This last week was a rare night off between semesters, so we decided to check out Cyber Wasteland at Numbers as an excuse to put on some spooky clothes and leave our cave.

According to Carmina Bell, Underworld's majordomo who I ran into at the door, Cyber Wasteland represents an attempt to placate complaints from the city's always divided goth crowd. As far back as I can remember the deathrockers have moaned about all the Wolfsheim and VNV Nation, while the industrial set asked exactly how many times in your life it was necessary to hear The Sisters of Mercy sing "This Corrosion?"

Ironically, I had just come from dinner with Scarlett St. Vitus, one of the extremely pro-deathrock-y founders of the short-lived Bone Church here in Houston (Miss that place, yes I do). She herself has joined the EDM crowd, and lamented over burgers at Hobbit Café that she grew sick of trying to find new traditional goth tunes that would fill a dance floor. In this light, Cyber Wasteland makes sense.

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Top Five Reasons Nine Inch Nails' New Track Sucks

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Ladies and gentlemen, I am a massive Nine Inch Nails fan. As an emo teenager, that was my band. Trent Reznor's angsty lyrics might fall short of the standards of an adult seeking intelligent explorations of the human psyche via pop lyrics, but no one seemed to understand my pain better other than Morrissey.

Reznor's resurrected band debuted their latest single, "Everything," earlier this week on BBC Radio One. So it is with great regret and a broken heart that I announce to you that it is the worst thing Nine Inch Nails has ever recorded. It just plain sucks -- no doubt about it -- and here's why.


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True Blood: Imagine Dragons... I Don't Get It

Categories: Gothtopia

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston. Much thanks to True-Blood.net, who has offered to help us with tracking down the songs of True Blood post-episode.

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So here we are again, friends and neighbors, at the end of a other season of True Blood, and like pretty much every other season. it ends on a "meh" note. I don't really know why this show has just never been able to really pull off a really first-rate season finale.

Part of it is the fact that the show has fielded exactly one good Big Bad in its run in the form of Russell Edginton. Warlow proved himself just another almost one-dimensional villain in the end, and his defeat, while triumphant in that the criminally underused Rutger Hauer made his return, was so unartfully done that it was honestly like watching two people play Mortal Kombat for the first time.

It's not until the end when Warlow lets all his grace fall away that I realize what a truly ham-fisted analogy his arc is for the heartbreak of an abusive relationship. He's pretended to come to her rescue, bargained with her for her hand, and now he starts hitting her and telling her she'll learn to love him. It is literally every single bad marriage I've ever seen in my life but with an Abercrombie and Fitch model with fruit-punch mouth.


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The Bozo Porno Circus Diaries: Sunny Days, Shit-Smeared Walls, and Slayer

Categories: Gothtopia

If you never saw a Bozo Porno Circus show then you just plain missed out. The Tone Zone Records band was a freak-out and a half, stuffed to the wall with loud noises and pretty girls getting sparks shot off their metal-covered crotches by belt sanders. Recently, lead guitarist Chris "The" Lane (AKA Crispy and for a brief hilarious time Nikki Wykkid) uncovered a treasure trove of tour diaries and photos, so all this week we're heading down a well of Houston-flavored debauchery from the glory days of our goth scene.

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Florida was hot and humid -- felt just like home in Houston. We were pulling into the venue in Tampa, a place called The Masquerade. Or maybe it was Jack Rabbit's. It was one of those clubs with more than one name, and after awhile they all blurred together to me. Inside it was a typically dark and cool dance club, a major contrast to the sunny Florida weather just outside its doors.

There was no stage, which was never a good thing, but something we occasionally encountered. When you play music that caters to a dance club crowd sometimes the clubs themselves don't usually host live acts and aren't set up well for live music.

The "Floor is the stage" scenario poses several problems. First, it's difficult to set any boundaries between the performers and the audience. We would often interact with our audience members, and our girls would sometimes pull attractive women onstage to play, but it was still nice to have a few feet of elevation to keep drunks from just wandering into our territory. With all of the metal gear and fire, it could be dangerous to have people meandering around. Plus it just didn't look right.


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True Blood: Life Matters Because We Die

Categories: Gothtopia

Alan Ball was known for his masterful use of music in Six Feet Under. He's lost none of his touch when it comes to his current HBO series, True Blood -- which happens to be set in the Louisiana swamps, not terribly far from Houston. Much thanks to True-Blood.net, who has offered to help us with tracking down the songs of True Blood post-episode.

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We've only one episode left in this season of True Blood, a season that I still can't decide if it was brilliant or a sign of further decline. It's taken some truly bizarre turns, but in doing so also made some extremely bold decisions. Perhaps none more than this week.

The death of Terry Bellefleur is damn strange, even though it's a death with no mystery behind it at all. In the midst of the vampire holocaust finally being averted in a complete and utter bloodbath of face stomping and dick-ripping, the episode focuses its entire other half on Terry's funeral.

Perhaps there is not other character you could kill and so perfectly make an audience sad. Certainly no other character managed to come so far from a damaged root into love and happiness. In a sense, it was an experience that was so quintessentially Charlaine Harris that for the first time sense season two I really remembered why I liked the books so much in the first place.


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The Bozo Porno Circus Diaries: It's Cold When You're Naked

Categories: Gothtopia

If you never saw a Bozo Porno Circus show then you just plain missed out. The Tone Zone Records band was a freak-out and a half, stuffed to the wall with loud noises and pretty girls getting sparks shot off their metal-covered crotches by belt sanders. Recently, lead guitarist Chris "The" Lane (AKA Crispy and for a brief hilarious time Nikki Wykkid) uncovered a treasure trove of tour diaries and photos, so for the next few days we're heading down a well of Houston-flavored debauchery from the glory days of our goth scene.

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I read most of the way during the five-hour drive to Chicago. For some reason, I was feeling kind of irritable, and not inclined to play the low rung "Rock Star" that my image demanded on tour, until we pulled up to our destination, The Double Door.

I went to check out the club while the bean worshippers in our group went in search of Starbucks. I'd like to drink a frappucino out of the skull of whomever founded that company. It always seemed if we weren't looking to score weed, we were looking for a Starbucks while on tour.


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The Bozo Porno Circus Diaries: Sid, the Evil Sex and Drug Clown

Categories: Gothtopia

If you never saw a Bozo Porno Circus show then you just plain missed out. The Tone Zone Records band was a freak-out and a half, stuffed to the wall with loud noises and pretty girls getting sparks shot off their metal-covered crotches by belt sanders. Recently, lead guitarist Chris "The" Lane (AKA Crispy and for a brief hilarious time Nikki Wykkid) uncovered a treasure trove of tour diaries and photos, so in the next few days we're heading down a well of Houston-flavored debauchery from the glory days of our goth scene.

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Our group reached Atlanta around four in the afternoon. The venue looked like an enormous dance club from the outside -- basically just a huge concrete box, but we had been told that it was a fetish club that featured gothic and industrial music. There's one in every major city, it seems.

The club was cavernous on the inside, most of which was a dance floor, and on one end was a very big raised stage, a nice professional job that looked appropriate for large bands or plays, not the disappointing "cobbled together by a cheap bar owner" platforms that we often encountered.

I was exhausted from hours of driving and traveling. The venue was empty except for a few of the bar staff, but our promoter had promised us a place to shower, and at that point I was very interested in washing the road funk off of myself.


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The Bozo Porno Circus Diaries: The Van Eats Shit, and I Almost Eat Rooster Balls

Categories: Gothtopia

If you never saw a Bozo Porno Circus show then you just plain missed out. The Tone Zone Records band was a freak-out and a half, stuffed to the wall with loud noises and pretty girls getting sparks shot off their metal-covered crotches by belt sanders. Recently, lead guitarist Chris "The" Lane (aka Crispy and for a brief hilarious time Nikki Wykkid) uncovered a treasure trove of tour diaries and photos, so all this week we're heading down a well of Houston-flavored debauchery from the glory days of our goth scene.

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When I joined Bozo Porno Circus, they had a very special Tour Vehicle, which had been bought by a friend and benefactor of the band. It was an old airport shuttle bus -- pretty huge, with seats lining the inside perimeter, but with the center free of seating or anything else. It was spacious, but not built for comfort over a long haul, like a school bus.

Still, it afforded us the ability to haul around our large entourage, as well as the considerable amount of gear and luggage that was necessary to take with us. When I joined Bozo, I didn't question the van, didn't wonder where it had come from. The van was just part of the strange landscape I accepted as part of the whole Bozo experience.

Because of its size, that van was not a lot of fun to drive, and although there was a decent amount of space to stretch out on the center of its floor to sleep, that floor got pretty hot from the road's heat, and it would quickly become uncomfortable.


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