Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses In Midtown

As our sister blog Eating...Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.


Surfacing in the spot that used to house that lovely little dive the Mink, Alley Kat is a suited-up, adult version of its former inhabitant. Now sparkly-clean, with a jazz-infused musical bent, Alley Kat hasn't lost the allure (or killer cocktails) that kept the Mink going -- just spruced it up a bit.

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Musicians' Five Greatest Drunken Moments

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Florence Welch, sans tequila, at Bayou Music Center in May 2012
For better or worse, I recently began to think about my last three birthdays in a row and realized that I've been blackout drunk throughout all three. It's not something I do often, but when my friends and I get together for a special occasion, it turns into something akin to The Hangover.

Which I guess is why I can relate so well to Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine fame. Back in July, the British singer known for both her album Lungs and her actual lungs found herself the subject of a viral video wherein she sings Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" after downing more than a few tequila shots.

It's a great alcohol-induced moment featuring a famous musician, and bad karaoke is something to which I'm sure we can all relate. That being said, it simply joins a pantheon of great drunken moments featuring famous musicians. Here are five of the best.

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Does Toby Keith Need an Intervention? His Top 5 Drinking Songs

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Photo by Barry Sigman
Toby Keith at the Woodlands in September
Rocks Off was excited to hear that Toby Keith is scheduled to make an appearance at next year's RodeoHouston. We just hope he makes it here.


Saturday Night: Toby Keith at The Woodlands

You see, we're starting to worry a little about Toby Keith's health. Not about the health of his career, mind you; his blue-collar musical output remains steady as ever. This week, the singer put out his 16th studio album, and it's sure to spawn a hit or two on country radio before all is said and done.

But to be quite frank, a troubling trend emerges on the new record. It starts with the title: Hope on the Rocks. At first blush, it could be taken as a subtle dig at President Obama, whom Keith supported in '08, but that's not the concerning part. Before we've even hit the play button, we've already got a prominent reference to alcohol, and you can bet your biggest belt buckle that the Big Dog Daddy ain't stoppin' there.

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Bottoms Up: 5 Beers From 5 Bands To Give You 5 Hangovers

Photo by Allison McPhail
How long before your favorite band has a booth at a beer fest?
Whether you're at a show with friends or just putting your feet up while listening to some tunes after a long day at work, for many alcohol is just another part of the rock and roll experience. And when hard liquor gets too expensive and wine seems too highfalutin, there is one drink that's always there for you: Beer.

In the last few years we've seen many artists -- including Maynard James Keenan of Tool and Les Claypool of Primus -- take up the fine art of winemaking, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Popular culture teaches us that wine is a sophisticated drink, most likely to be stored in a cellar, and appreciated for its depth of flavor. You can see why some artists want to be associated with it.

Beer is a blue-collar drink. It's for people who work hard and/or want to get smashed on a budget. It's what you use to play beer pong and tailgating. And while it may not scream luxury the same way wine does, there are a handful of artists out there who have gotten into the beer game.

Check out the following list to see if your favorite band has a brew of their own.

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Last Night: Dropkick Murphys At House Of Blues

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Photos by Jim Bricker

Dropkick Murphys
House of Blues
February 28, 2012

Check out photos of last night's sold out Dropkick Murphys show at House of Blues.

Everybody's Irish at a Dropkick Murphys show. Tuesday night at House of Blues, Rocks Off saw more shamrock-festooned gear and Boston Red Sox caps than should normally be allowed this far from Fenway. Still, it's hard to hold a grudge when everyone including the band appears to be having such a good time.

From the moment the band took the stage (to the strains of "The Foggy Dew" by Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains) to their final encore number ("Citizen C.I.A."), the place was a bouncing sea of flat caps, beer, and Celtic tattoos.

So while it's theoretically possible to be in a shitty mood at a DKM show, you probably have to be hung over. Or a Yankees fan.

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My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink: Five Songs For A Hangover

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Every now and then after a night out, Lonesome, Onry and Mean's head feels like it's been in a fight with some guy who owns a nail gun. While we may no longer be on a regular first-name basis with morning - nor, by way of waiver, are we particularly prone to over-serving ourseves - we are, sadly, familiar with hangovers.

And we are not talking about the movie about to be foisted on us by Hollywood, which you may have heard about.

It saddens LOM to report that we had a Hank Williams moment Tuesday night, which inexplicably led to a lapse of judgment resulting in the downing of several Saison Duponts with Rocks Off Sr., followed by skinny glasses of Fernet and soda with a host of disreputable characters. [Ed. Note: All I can say is this.]

Had Charles Bukowski, Nelson Algren, Sophia Loren and Carla Bruni walked into the confab, LOM doubts anyone would have raised an eyelid unless they were offering to buy a round of the Best Procurable.

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The Distillery: Rancid's Let the Dominoes Fall

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What it do, Rancid? What's crackin', formerly crusty-punk rude boys? Been a long time since we last hang, bros. When Dan Zeller lent me Let's Go during senior year of high school, I knew y'all were onto something special: three-billy-goats-gruff sung scrabbling punk anthems and routs with just a hint of ska. ...And Out Come The Wolves was what really sold me, though, as you found a slightly more commercial sound that brought MTV rotation (for "Time Bomb"), plus a platinum plaque.

Our interest began to wane after you flew to Jamaica to record Life Won't Wait. I bought 2000's Rancid out of loyalty, but nothing on it resonated with me; it's probably rotting in a Baltimore-area record store's used bin as I type this. As for 2003's Indestructible, I can't front: haven't heard a note of it.

It wasn't you, guys, it was us; our interests changed. Separated from higher education and the friends who indoctrinated us to the Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords/Punk Uprisings/etc nu-punk axis, I suddenly had less of a desire to listen to dudes yelling about smashing the state and so on. I wanted more indie, more rap, maybe some Flaming Lips. I didn't even notice that y'all were on a 6-year hiatus, though your side projects were duly noted (if never explored).

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The Distillery: Eminem's New "Workmanlike" Effort Stalls

Categories: The Distillery

There - I said it. Though I'm thinking that "workmanlike" might actually be too kind an adjective to use in describing Relapse, Eminem's fifth album produced by Dr. Dre. "Workmanlike" suggests a modicum of competence, and Relapse isn't satisfying on any level whatsoever. Like, at all. It literally fails even at going through the shock-and-awe motions. Shady's immortal "I just don't give a fuck" refrain has been replaced by "Guess it's time for you to hate me again" (from "Medicine Ball"), which scans here as "Time to make the donuts."

There are vulgarities and inhumanities that flash by in a dull blur. There are all manner of stale celebrity rape and murder fantasies, rendered sans panache. The grating dialects that marred 04's Encore - a gone-loco trainwreck that improves in comparative retrospect - recur here, sliming Dre's canned carny beats. (All is forgiven, "Just Lose It." Defending that delirious bit of self-cannibalization is a cinch compared to justifying Em's latest.) Who'd have imagined, back when we were throwing "Yellow Brick Road" on mixtapes for friends, that there would come a time when we'd be nostalgic for vengeful-yet-impassioned rants about Eminem killing his ex-wife or loopy forget-me-nots about how much he loves his kids?

So thanks, Marshall, for making the Distillery's mission pretty much impossible. Distillery's aim is to break albums that are 16 or more songs long down to a manageable 10 keepers; with Relapse, I struggled to come up with eight - and one of those is a skit. Most of the others are tracks I can tolerate without having to fight off the urge to yank the CD out of the player and break it.

Marshall, by sobering up and wading into rap, you - probably inadvertently - have made an album that mirrors the circa-right-now experience of soldiering on through life in a world on the verge of collapse, day in and day out, despite feeling empty, uninspired, totally unsure whether the future holds much of anything, and convinced that our collective best days are far behind us.

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The Distillery: Cam'ron's Crime Pays

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Any Cam'ron reckoning that doesn't address the Harlem MC's unflagging inhumanity is a dishonest one. Most hip-hop heads have developed a cognitive-dissonance filter for the misogyny and nihilism coating most rap product; we try to see the hateful forest for the acrobatic trees.

Still, though: Jay-Z takes the drug-kingpin longview, Clipse spits creative coke-rap chatter, 50 Cent celebrates a crime titan-as-corporate-asswipe aesthetic and Lil Wayne gets psychedelic with hustla tropes. But Cam'ron's persona is something more maligant: he's pure evil incarnate, cataloguing the usual monied extravagances but honing in on the finer details of running trains, turning women into drug mules, getting 'em hooked on the product he knows we know he doesn't push anymore, taking lives as casually as he slips into one flamboyantly hued outfit or another (no homo!) - and doing so with a black-as-coal comedic gallows humor that at first scans as humorlessness.

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The Distillery: The Cool Kids' "Going Fishin'" mixtape

Categories: The Distillery

Photo by Hryck.

Chuck "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll (Michigan) and Antoine "Mikey Rocks" Reed (Illinois) - the Cool Kids, to you - may qualify as the 00s' biggest teases. Since 2007, they've unleashed a cavalcade of individual tracks and mixtapes, massaging Internet buzz into a sort of droning hum: 80s babies building a name with hot sixteens full of 80s signifiers and 80s-aping flows over 80s boom-bap beats. (See "Black Mags," which was featured in a late 2007/early 2008 Rhapsody commercial in tandem with Sara Barilles' "Love Song" - so don't front like you've never heard it.) And just When Fish Ride Bicycles - the Kids' oft-delayed full-length debut - seems on the verge of seeing release, Inglish and Rocks (in conjunction with Don Cannon) drop yet another frickin' mixtape on us.

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