Long, Hot Sunday

The Sabbath simmers with sizzling sets, squealing tires and ersatz Stone Cold Steve Austins

Then, events conspired to put Racket in a pretty bad mood. When he finally made it over to BAR, MenMechanical was laid low by a busted sampler connection. After waiting for ten minutes, he wandered downstairs to Harlon's Bayou Blues for a little salsa, only to find that Grupo Batachá hadn't shown. When 8 p.m. rolled around, Racket had rounded up some friends at Bayou Place and trekked over to the Hub on Main Street for Davin James's set, which was canceled because of James's laryngitis. Somehow Racket managed to stumble into just about every canceled gig on the bill.

But every cancellation and/or tardiness gave somebody else a chance to shine. Thanks to Fondue Monks for keeping their pot boiling an extra 60 minutes and also to *mytwilightpilot* for flying well past sundown and into the night. Laurels especially are owed to Faceplant: In addition to putting on a crowd-pleasing hour of its own, the band played a brief set filling in for the tardy Lil' Flip and then sprinted off the stage when the man himself arrived. MenMechanical deserves a medal for waiting out the equipment snafu and turning in what was acclaimed by those who stuck around as a fine, if abbreviated, set.

Racket did manage to get back in the groove once he caught a portion of a we-don't-give-a-shit-if-people-think-we're-cheesy Dune*TX set. These guys have no attitude whatsoever. They put their heads down and rock but aren't afraid to look up once in a while and smile.

The same goes in spades for the Suspects, who played their second-to-last show at the Hub. It's a narrow room, and Racket was near the back of the packed house. Once the Suspects' faithful started pogoing (about two chick-a-chicking guitar scrapes into their first bar), you could only intermittently see the stage. Trying to watch them was like peering through the works of some piston-packed machine. Reached a couple of days later by phone, Suspects guitarist Bill Grady said he was sad to be playing the songs for almost the last time, but also relieved. "We're breaking up after eight years and we're still talking to each other," he said. "Not many bands can say that."

Racket eventually toddled back over to Bayou Place for Trik Turner's finale but was waylaid at the gates by what Chris Berman would call "a developing situation": two guys wrestling on the Bayou Place patio. Their friends Jamie Sralla and Terry Nunn later said the wrestlers were just fooling around, but Bayou Place security guards thought the fight was real. The guards attempted to ten-count the tussle, only to find themselves set upon in earnest by the mock combatants. HPD intervened, and the would-be Stone Cold Steve Austins were escorted in handcuffs off the premises.

Minutes later, Racket saw the Greco-Roman grapplers in the backseat of a squad car easing down Texas Avenue. There was a hitch, though: The policeman had left his front passenger-side door open. "Excuse me," he politely asked Racket and his compañeros. "Could you please shut my door?" Nunn complied, and away his chums went to the pokey. One of them, a hulking guy with longish blond hair, grinned at us and banged his head three times on the back window as the car rolled past. And that was that for the 2002 Houston Press Music Awards Showcase.

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