Houston Calling

More noise trouble for Walter’s on Washington

November 11th, 2006 · 2 Comments

Today’s Houston Chronicle has this article about neighbors calling the Houston Police Department to constantly complain about the noise levels at local rock club Walter’s. The continued focus on the club stems, of course, from the indicent last month during a Two Gallants concert in which a lone HPD officer caused a scene after responding to a noise complaint and ended up arresting band members and tasering a kid, among other things. If you are unfamiliar with the fracas, check it out here and here.

Houston Press music editor John Nova Lomax recently wrote about the growing concern over local, smaller rock clubs (like Helios) closing due to their “neighbors” complaining in neighborhoods that are quickly becoming condo-ridden. He wrote:

It’s a clichĂ© to say that this or that is “killing the scene,” but in this case it is true: these sniveling simps really are killing the scene. It just makes my blood fucking boil when I think about these people. They are usually lawyers, and they are usually from places like Kingwood, Katy and Dallas. They move inside the Loop and buy some abysmal abortion of a condo because they want to be hip and edgy and have easy access to Starbucks and Urban Outfitters. They want to bask in the reflected glow of artists, because they think that makes their dorky asses cool. And they want Montrose and Washington Avenue to go to sleep at ten p.m. sharp, so they can nod off to their Everyone Loves Raymond reruns unimpeded by the strains of actual art being created.


But this is a problem for music fans. Soon, there won’t be many–or any–places for local and smaller bands to play in Houston (and we’ve got a bad enough reputation as it is).

Try to name more than five small rock clubs in the city that host not only local musicians but national touring acts that don’t merit the likes of the Warehouse, The Meridian, or Verizon. There’s Walter’s, of course. Super Happy Fun Land. The Proletariat. The Mink. Maybe the Engine Room counts, although it’s fairly large. Southmore House? Please–just try getting your wife or girlfriend to go to that neighborhood at night. After the Rhythm Room closed a while back, and then Mary Jane’s (which was across from Walter’s, for those who didn’t know), I had a sinking feeling that there would be a lack of clubs at which to see small or up-and-coming bands.

I have seen countless bands at these small venues years before they graced covers of magazines or went on to some sort of musical success. For a city the size of Houston to not have more places for bands–local and national–to play is truly pathetic. Someone (someone with money, that is) needs to step up and open a venue better suited to these sorts of bands. I think it’s great that a bar like The Mink has opened up its top floor to host bands and DJs–if things keep going the way they are, it may be one of the few places small local bands can perform in town. Maybe The Continental Club will open its doors to more local acts outside their typical genres sometime. I think there are a couple of new places around the area but I haven’t gotten any information on them yet. I could be dreaming that, though…

I think that the Rhythm Room was a great location (Washington Ave. near downtown–just down from Darkhorse Tavern) and that it would be a wise investment for someone to re-open the club, fix it up a bit inside and have it open every night. Make it a place people want to go, then bring in bands to make more people come in. Like The Proletariat does.

Maybe rock music fans can just take over all those horrid downtown clubs like the Press does for its music awards showcases. That would be great.

Your comments and feedback appreciated. I’d like to know what other local music fans think.

Tags: Music

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jeff // Nov 11, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    What’s just as bad is that we all lament the loss of a “scene” that, let’s be honest, wasn’t all that thriving to begin with primarily because clubs have always been way too spread out in Houston thanks to our lack of zoning. The result is a really competitive club scene that concerns itself more with hiring bands that can draw big crowds that drink a lot than bands that need to work to get a following and grow into one of those bands that draws big crowds that drink a lot.

    The answer was completely plain to everyone when Main Street started growing, yet, how many original music clubs exist on or near Main in downtown – that would be exactly one: Continental Club and it isn’t even in the heart of downtown.

    Because musicians here are so scattered and seem to define themselves as much by the failure of others as they do by their own success, we have no strength to support and even demand better representation. If musicians were actually organized and were able to garner the same kinds of support normally reserved for Da Camera, MFA, the Grande Opera and other “legitimate” art organizations in town, imagine the impact.

    I’ve lived here for more than 30 years and played in Houston for nearly half of those and it’s been exactly the same. In the 80’s and early 90’s, the Richmond strip was the place with all the people and no original music. Today, it’s Main Street. Unless we demand better and do something about it – like actually supporting fellow performers so they play to people instead of crickets – I’m not so sure we deserve a better scene than what we’ve got.

  • 2 DAC // Nov 13, 2006 at 8:27 am

    Good point Jeff. I have lived in Houston for nearly 12 years and I recall bars on Richmond Ave. packed with people & thinking to myself, “Great. A band’s going to play.” & then they’d begin with a Pearl Jam cover and it’d go down from there.

    It’s not just an inner city thing either. I recently noticed that Forgettaboutit at Jones Rd. & Grant Rd. in NW Houston, a long-time hotbed for metal and local prog-rock bands, is no longer there. I know there’s another location but I am not sure if it’s still open or not.

    I am always impressed when I go out to see a local band and recognize that there are local musicians in the crowd watching their peers perform.

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