Houston Calling

You just keep me hangin’ on… (a report from Curiosa Festival 2004)

August 18th, 2004 · No Comments

Disclaimer: By now, you know I am a huge music fan. And if you’ve read Houston Calling recently, you’ll know I have loved The Cure since the mid-eighties. When I found out they were touring with three or four modern bands that I really enjoy, I couldn’t believe it. I was able to get some free tickets and was really looking forward to the show. But I was unprepared for what I got to experience at Curiosa Festival 2004 here in Houston, and I’ll try to relate as much of it as I can. You’ll just have to forgive the fawning, dorky music fan/hanger-on that I am. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

I go to pick up a friend down the street from his place, and am greeted by one of the guys from a local band I like and his girlfriend, who is an artist. My friend asks me to give them my two lawn seats (which I got for free from another friend) and that he and I are set for all-access passes at the venue?we just have to go to the production office once we get there. No, really.

I part with my free lawn tickets, hoping that the gamble pays off and we actually can get into the show.

We get to the venue, find out where the production office is located, and walk around to the side to find a kid with a walkie-talkie who lets us through the gate basically because my friend has an accent. So right there, we’re in the venue. No ticket, no nothing. Simple. Unbelievable. We head to the nearest booth and sure enough, the guy has two “working” passes for us and also two tickets for row AA to the left of the stage (we ended up giving those away to the same couple we gave the lawn seats to).

We immediately call his friend, who works for one of the bands on the tour, and he meets us and takes us to the band’s dressing room. We raid their refrigerator for drinks and meet the guys in the band. We then go to the side of the main stage and watch The Cooper Temple Clause‘s show from the stage. They were great?a lot harder live than their album. The crowd seemed to be responding positively and thoughout the day I saw several people carrying their CDs around.

Members of The Cure and Interpol abound. I try to act like I belong.

After TCTC’s set, we head off to just walk around the venue. The place was a strange mixture of people. The Cure’s been around for 25 years or more so it’s to be expected. The merchandise was outrageous?$30 for T-shirts. Seriously? You can buy them cheaper on their websites. Also, FYE was selling CDs for most of the side stage bands and if you bought them you could have the musician sign the CD?truly odd.

Anyway, with the passes we have free reign to go anywhere we want and we pretty much do. Milled about backstage a while, used the bathrooms back there (no line!), and drank for free. We also watched The Rapture and Interpol from the pit right in front of the stage. If you get the chance to see The Rapture live, you must check them out. They have a live DVD out in the UK–probably good as well. This was my second time to see them and it was unbelievably good. They put on a great, energetic performance and really got the crowd into their music.

Interpol was also good to see. It was my third time seeing them–they played some of their new songs from the upcoming Antics. Not as strong as their first release, but it’s still good stuff. The live versions of their other songs were great. Although I don’t think their suits were made for Houston in August.

By far, however, the best part of the day was the Mogwai show. We saw the guy who hooked us up with the passes by the stage so we walked back there. He introduced us to the guys in Mogwai and then took us onstage right by the sound board where we stood throughout the band’s entire set. It was amazing to see this sea of people who were really into their music. Mogwai put on an amazing performance–I wish I had it on video. It is impossible to describe how good they are live.

The Cure started shortly after Mogwai’s set ended so we headed back to the main stage area and walked down to the pit to watch from there. Unfortunately, since we had working passes and were holding beers they figured we weren’t working anymore and wouldn’t let us down on the floor. Since we had given our tickets away, we were screwed as far as actual seats go. I ran into a couple of old friends from college, one of which had front row center seats. Oh well.

We had been told to wait a few songs before coming backstage during The Cure’s performance because the band was hesitant of people hanging out (apparently they were accosted by fans of Interpol a few nights before). So we watched the first few songs from the lawn. As always, The Cure put on a great performance and played a good mixture of old and new songs. They also threw in plenty of “fan only” material–songs from early albums like Japanese Whispers, Faith, and Pornography. We hung out for a few songs and headed backstage to the dressing room area to find my friend’s friend and see what he was doing.

You can imagine my surprise when we open the door to find a member of Mogwai hanging out with some guys from a local band (hopefully I’ll have more on them in the future) and a couple of other guys. Ever the hangers-on, we took our seats, had some drinks, and watched the remainder of The Cure’s show in the dressing room. Basically we all just sat around chatting about music and various other things. It was a good time.

After The Cure’s set, we then went down to the VIP lounge, where the remaining bands were hanging out (sans Robert Smith, of course). This was midnight-ish and was pretty lame–but it was funny watching guys from bands talking to the girls who made it backstage. I am sure they have no troubles in that department…

I got home around 1 a.m., went to bed around 1:30, got up at 6 and made it to work around 7:30 a.m. A rough day at the office, but well worth it.

I am sure I’ll never get the chance to experience a show like that again. I have to thank all involved–to D & C for the passes. To L for the lawn seats. And to our wives for letting us go it alone–we owe you.

And thanks to the bands for not throwing us out.

Discuss here.

Now Playing in My iPod: The RaptureLive at Bowery Ballroom

Tags: Music