Rock vs. Rap: Who Really Ruled H-Town?

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The early to mid-'90s were good times for underground music in Houston. At clubs like the Axiom, the Vatican and Fitzgerald's, an eclectic mix of punk, metal, funk and ska bands like deadhorse, Sprawl and more regularly played packed shows in front of 500+ fans.

Much has changed since, but those of us who were stuck in junior-high detention back then are in luck. A fascinating new documentary called "When We Ruled H-Town," co-directed by J. Schneider from bong-toting rockers Taste of Garlic, takes a nostalgic look back at those heady days in the pre-Napster era when it seemed inevitable that someone, ANYONE from Houston's thriving underground rock scene would blow up big nationally and put the city on the map. That scenario never quite happened, but it wasn't for lack of talent. Check out the film's premiere on Thursday to learn more.

There was much more bubbling up from the underground in Houston in the early '90s than just rock, of course. The Geto Boys were helping to kick off the rise of Dirty South hip-hop, and DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click were hard at work twisting rap in an incredible new psychedelic direction. Ask anyone about Houston's musical legacy of the past 20 years, and these names are bound to pop up.

There wasn't a lot of overlap between the rock and hip-hop scenes, but that's not to say there was none at all, according to Schneider.


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Houston Music Fight Club: Roy Mata (Walter's) vs. Jon Black (Boondocks), Sound Exchange vs. Black Dog Records

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Rocks Off has been so busy this week cramming his fool head full of Creed and blink-182 research ahead of this week's shows that he nearly forgot about pitting people in imaginary cage matches. It's seriously hard work listening to "Higher" and "My Own Prison" while looking for clues as to why the world bought 35 million copies of their albums. We kind of feel like some sort of butt-rock paleontologist cum sociologist.

Roy Mata Vs. Jon Black

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These two men helm the respective bars at Walter's On Washington and Boondocks, and are also in two of Houston's loudest bands. Mata plays guitar in Black Congress, and Black is the axeman for Whorehound.

Both are burly dudes with scowls that can peel paint off the bow of battleship, making bullshittery and shitpursery around their bars a stupid enterprise. Black looks like a super villain, with his bald pate, that would melt your skull with the power of mind brain. He has played in a variety of bands around town in his time on Earth, including Dinosaur Salad. Plus, he drives a kick-ass motorcycle and lets you bum smokes whenever you need one.

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Houston Music Fight Club: Brett Koshkin vs. Ceeplus Bad Knives, Late Nite Pie vs. Mai's, Nick Gaitan vs. ???

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This week brings three new bouts and a special announcement to all past winners and losers of our imaginary brawls on Houston Music Fight Club. Next Tuesday, Rocks Off is presenting David Fincher's Fight Club at our (mostly) weekly Movie Nite at the Mink. We would like all past winners and losers to attend this lovely screening of the most controversial movie of 1999 that didn't involve footage shot on a shaky Handicam, a dead Bruce Willis or Kevin Spacey jacking off in the shower.

Pickings are getting slim over here in the basement of Houston Music Fight Club. We were thinking the other day that more real fights should happen around here. No, we are not challenging anyone to a real fight. Why? Was someone talking shit? We carry a knife, ya know. We don't suffer fools. Wait. Don't tell anyone that. Please? We have a few tickets we haven't paid and um, we are hemophiliacs.

Brett Koshkin Vs. Ceeplus BadKnives

What's funny about this one is that Koshkin actually asked us to have him fight Eric Castillo, aka Ceeplus BadKnives. What was sick about it was that Koshkin kept rubbing his newly-trimmed beard all perverted-like when he was asking us, leading us to believe there may be some weirdness there. Violent or something else. He kept saying they are "good" friends, and we believe him, but people don't rub their beards like that unless something is up. So here you go...

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Houston Music Fight Club: Michael Berry vs. Outlaw Dave, Don Walsh vs. Dirty Jeff Smith, Notsuoh vs. Mango's

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Another week and yet another clash of the sorta-titans, wherein we pit some of Houston's best and brightest music luminaries against each other in brutal mortal combat. This week we will briefly take a step away from the burgeoning Bayou City indie scene to spotlight two of the town's radio personalities who dabble in the musical milieu.

Believe it or not there are folks who don't sit outside behind Poison Girl chain-smoking cigarettes or pass out at the bar at Boondocks. [Ed. note: Shut up.] We were just as amazed as you are that there are people in Houston who don't drink $2 beers like they have a federal mandate to do so. Who are you people, going to sleep in bed after Conan's monologue and eating edible food from your own refrigerator? So sorry to offend you, sir.

Michael Berry vs. Outlaw Dave

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OK, for those who don't listen to 740 KTRH religiously like we do, constantly waiting for new hurricanes or some other insane political disaster, Michael Berry is their afternoon drive time talk show host. He swings pretty solidly to the right, but he's not a total butt-horn like Mark "Groucho Marx" Levine or pseudo-sacred cow Rush Limbaugh.

Sunday evenings on the station, Berry hosts a Texas Country-geared show spotlighting dudes that can mostly be found playing Armadillo Palace or the Firehouse Saloon each week. We signed up for the Berry newsletter and somehow ended up getting messages about the country show. We have only listened to it once, on accident, while we were eating hot dogs in our car waiting to go into a concert.

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Houston Music Fight Club: Chris Wise vs. Cody Swann, Chris Ryan vs. Frank Beard, Washington Avenue vs. Westheimer

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So this past week, Houston Music Fight Club began getting solicitations from various local musicians to be matched against other strummers and pickers around town in their cage matches. Rocks Off looks around. We see a lot of new faces. This means a lot of you have (happily for us) been breaking the first two rules of Houston Music Fight Club. Forwarding the blogs to your friends and actually reading them!

This week and the next are the last two weeks before the HMFC goes into its next round of bouts, with previous winners being pitted against the others. A quick look back at the weeks past shows that there will be some wicked brawls coming soon albeit inside this blogger's sick head. It's kind of weird to think that we sit around all day thinking of ways our friends would fight each other. Almost perverse.

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Houston Music Fight Club: Pizza Dude vs. Jerky Guy and 10th Grade Cutie vs. Everyone

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In this episode of Houston Music Fight Club, we yet again pit some of Houston's skuzziest and rocking local musicians and personalities together for a fight to the death. Or at least to the sore hand, bloody lip, and maybe a few tears. Some dudes fight when they cry; we've seen it firsthand. We don't know what causes it, because we have never seen those UFC cats blubber when they simulate homoerotic foreplay every few weeks. What gives?

We once saw two burly hosses scrapping outside some toolbox in Corpus Christi and -honest to God - the bigger of the brosephs had tears in his eyes as he was wailing on the other guy. Personally, if we were in a fight we would pull the old "I'm a hemophiliac" card and punch the other guy in the wang. It worked on our Dad.

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Houston Music Fight Club, Round 2: Bryan Jackson vs. Jacob Calle, Bun B vs. B L A C K I E, Beau Beasley vs. Justin Nava

In last week's Houston Music Fight Club, we pitted six of Houston's brightest-shining musical diamonds against one another in a sort of cruel Internet death match. The only blood drawn was the dark crimson blood of laughter that...yeah, we need to work on our metaphors.

Anyhow, we came up with three more semi-local celebrity cage matches. We hope that this actually catches on in real life, so that one day it can be sold to pay-per-view for the rest of the world to gawk at. Finally we will have an excuse to shave our arms and use those roofies we scored the other night.

Bryan Jackson Vs. Jacob Calle

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Anyone paying attention to these two will know their relationship has been volatile. A few months back, Jackson, the Bon Scott-esque lead singer of Black Congress came under scene fire for allegedly "borrowing" some vinyl from local auteur Jacob Calle. A fight was scheduled to be held at the Graustark Bridge over Highway 59 at 4 a.m. one night, but obviously nothing materialized.

In a real fight though, who would win? Jackson was recently interviewed for Free Press Houston, where he described a litany of extracurricular activities that would make R. Kelly blush and has forever tainted the movie The Color of Money for us. But pooping in a pool table and penchant for "face meat" doesn't make you Chuck Liddell.

Calle, on the other hand, is only vaguely threatening. His life exploits, which Rocks Off can attest to from growing up with him in Pearland, are anything but sane. But he's not a fighter by any means, more of an affable prankster along the lines of a French aristocratic court jester.

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Houston Music Fight Club: Roky Moon vs. Joe Mathlete, Asli vs. Zahira, Hippie Mike vs. Little Joe

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Last week Rocks Off was mindlessly trolling the Interweb when we stumbled upon a site solely dedicated to animal fights. No, not the awful kind that say, Michael Vick would have been found at a couple of years ago. This site, Wild Animal Fight Club, trafficks in speculative death matches like komodo dragon vs. deer, or massive Spanish bulls pitted against American black bears.

It got us to thinking about what would happen if some of Houston's biggest and brightest stars squared off against each other in an old-school bare-knuckle brawl - the kind our ancestors probably had on the docks out in Galveston or the banks of Buffalo Bayou over a fifth of gin and some nachos or something. We came up with a quick handful of tantalizing matches, attempting to match people by size, stature and relative temperament.

Feel free to add your own suggestions. And remember, the first rule of Houston Music Fight Club is tell everybody you know about Houston Music Fight Club so they can add theirs.

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