Raw Power

Iggy & the Stooges headline the fifth Free Press Summer Fest.

Only in Houston

Last week Free Press Summer Fest announced most of the artists who will play its fifth edition, scheduled for June 1 and 2 at Eleanor Tinsley Park near downtown. At the top of the heap are punk godfathers Iggy Pop & the Stooges and reunited electro-pop swooners The Postal Service, followed by EDM artists Bassnectar and Calvin Harris, indie-rock chanteuse Cat Power, Brit-rockers Arctic Monkeys, Houston rap legends the Geto Boys and Devin the Dude, dreadlocked rapper 2 Chainz, R&B/gospel grande dame Mavis Staples and alternative-soul groups Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and Alabama Shakes.

Several Houston acts will be joining them, including many FPSF first-timers: the Beans, Black Market Syndicate, Infinite Apaches, Orents Stirner, Otenki, Mikey & the Drags, Uzoy, The Niceguys, Midnight Norma Lane, Nick Greer & the G's and Rivers, as well as local veterans A Sea Es, Young Mammals, American Fangs and DJ Sun. More artists will be announced in the coming weeks, festival officials have said.

Iggy and the Stooges' new album, Ready to Die, will be out by the time the band plays Free Press Summer Fest in June.
Marco Torres
Iggy and the Stooges' new album, Ready to Die, will be out by the time the band plays Free Press Summer Fest in June.
Believe it or not, this is what Numbers looked like when it was called Babylon in the mid-'70s.
Believe it or not, this is what Numbers looked like when it was called Babylon in the mid-'70s.

FPSF is promising a third main stage this year and a banquet of offerings from some of Houston's finest eateries, and is seeking artists to create large-scale installations. Tickets are on sale now.

Since the lineup (thus far) was posted late February 27, our blog was retweeted more than 150 times and drew more than 30 comments, including the following:

H_e_x: "Huzzah Uzoy and DJ Sun, not so sure on Kitty Pryde and Macklemore. I say replace Pryde with some other, you know, real act. Anything, like Weird Al."

Nosa Edebor: " I hope Iggy Pop doesn't melt in the Houston sun. I'm pretty sure he's like 93 percent action figure."

Judith Cruz Villareal: "Good lineup, but still too hot for me to attempt. They should make a Free Press Fall Fest!"

Casey Sloop: "I want to go to there! But my lily-white skin quietly tells me, 'Calm down, you'd burst into flames in that sun.'"

Cyndi Garcia Villegas: "FPSF had me at Paul Banks."

Booger Boogerson: "Too bad it's usually hot as balls."

Shannon Whitlock: "Well, I guess I'm going to have to get over my irrational fear of heatstroke and go check this thing out."

What's in a Name?

Numbers Game
The weatherbeaten Westheimer club has a silvery past.

Jef with One F

One thing has always bothered me whenever I attend concerts and dance nights at Numbers, and that is, "Why the hell is it called Numbers, anyway?" Now, I know that I have something of a fixation on the meaning of names within the Houston music scene, but I've also had several readers ask me to look into it over the years.

Well, I finally did so, and what I got back was something strange and wonderful to behold. The source of this information wished to remain anonymous so as not to reveal his or her age, but was vouched for by Numbers owner Robert Burtenshaw.

Dad, why is Numbers called Numbers?

"Well, son, the building at 300 Westheimer was not originally called Numbers. It had a few names. The building actually opened in 1975 as The Million Dollar City Dump, a dinner theater where people could see Las Vegas-style shows. In 1978, during the disco rage, it was turned into Numbers. The word 'numbers' at that time referred to someone who was a cute guy or girl. Like, 'That's a cute number.'

"You see, son, back before cell phones, people would exchange home phone numbers and write them down on what were called 'trick cards.' Then there was the silver wallpaper."

Silver wallpaper, dad? What silver wallpaper?

"Yep, silver wallpaper. The upstairs bar and balcony, during The Million Dollar City Dump days, was originally an office that had solid walls. The windows were put in to open the space and so people could look down on the dance floor. The wall was sort of blank-looking, so it needed something to make it look cool.

"While shopping, someone found some silver wallpaper with numbers printed all over it, thinking that the silver paper was flashy and cool. The silver wallpaper became a symbol of the club, because if you were looking down on the dancing crowd, you were searching for a 'number,' and if you were on the dance floor and looking up, then you were looking at..."

Wow, dad. I get it. You were looking up at NUMBERS.

"Right, son. So there you have the story. It's too bad that the silver numbers wallpaper, along with a lot of other things, got painted over with black. The paper may be painted over, but the numbers are still there in spirit."

Dad, then why does the sign in front of Numbers say "#'s 2"?

"Well, son, that is a story that has two parts. In 1980, Numbers was at the top of its game. It was doing great, but some of the people involved as investors felt it could do more and there was a disagreement.

"A few of the parties involved thought it best to step away and let the others, who thought they knew better, take over the club.

"The parties who stepped away went on to work on other projects and take comfortable vacations in what was then a new vacation spot in Mexico called Cancún. That was in May of 1980. By August, the managing group that thought they could do a 'better job' had run the club into the ground. They didn't pay a lot of bills.

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