Best of Houston®

Best Of 2012


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Map It

Arts & Entertainment

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Alternative Club
Walters Houston
David Rozycki

At this point Walter's seems almost invulnerable. Pam Robinson's club spent the last half of 2011 in limbo as Robinson had difficulty moving into her new quarters near UH-Downtown. But now that it's all smoothed over, the newly rechristened Walters Houston (no more apostrophe) is even more of a melting pot of music that's beloved but not popular, an array of subgenres from thrash and hardcore to shoegaze and emo. The former auto showroom is bigger, but with the same open-door booking policy and endearing "don't be a dick" attitude. DIY to the last, Walters still doesn't have a Web site, but updates its Facebook page often enough to keep up with what's going on. One of the most fun events is turning out to be Walters Bazaar, a combination concert/swap meet on the last Sunday of the month, where people are welcome to bring old records, clothes and anything else they want to sell for a sort of flea market while enjoying some late-afternoon live music.

1120 Naylor, Houston, 77002
Best Live-Music Venue

Since Free Press Summer Fest's Omar Afra and Jagi Katial bought Fitzgerald's in July 2010, the old Heights dance hall's transformation has been remarkable. Already one of Houston's most historic venues (Elvis and James Brown played the building), Fitz has upgraded its sound, raised the floor in the big upstairs room and begun attracting the kind of talent that used to laugh out loud at the idea of playing Houston until the packed houses they saw staring back at them shut them up real quick. Now with shows both upstairs and down most nights of the week, Fitz is just as accommodating to Houston's local music community. It's also been an outspoken opponent of Houston's ridiculous new noise ordinance, and a cornerstone of the burgeoning bar/restaurant corridor on White Oak.

2706 White Oak, Houston, 77007
Best Local-Music Venue

Head down to the little house at Westheimer and Taft any night of the week and you'll likely hear live music by a local band, ranging from a new ensemble that's playing for the first time to an established outfit honing its set. The venue never discriminates against genres, meaning that in a span of a few days (and sometimes even a few hours), you'll be exposed to anarchist punk, sludge metal, fragmentary singer-songwriter and high-on-the-decibels bizarro. Bring cash if you want to purchase some merch from the dark alcove, and earplugs if you want to keep your hearing.

403 Westheimer Rd., Houston, 77006
Best Museum
The John C. Freeman Weather Museum

Think of the John C. Freeman Weather Museum as the little museum that could. Sitting in the shadow of its bigger, shinier cousins, the Weather Museum is housed in what was once a private two-story home. Each room downstairs has been transformed into an exhibit area, the most popular of which might be the WRC TV Studio, which features a camera, teleprompter, lights and a green screen. Visitors can become faux meteorologists and tape themselves delivering a weather report (you have a choice of intense weather conditions to report on). There's also the Cyclone Room, with its own cyclone chamber; the Weather History exhibit, with antique meteorology equipment; a theater with a variety of videos; and the Weather Wizard Corner, with demonstrations by museum meteorologists. Given Houston's history with extreme weather, it makes sense that we have the country's first weather museum, don't you think?

5104 Caroline St., Houston, 77004
Best Rock Club
The Dirt

Houston's favorite dark, hip and nasty rock bar, The Dirt, is now located across from the House of Blues off Caroline after spending its first few years incubating in the Heights. The bar's staff comes complete with fun rocker attitude, with extremely pretty, sorta-dressed girls and tattooed boys who will do shots with you if you're cool. The only hitch seems to be finding street parking on downtown's busier nights, leaving you with the options of walking or ponying up for paid parking.

1209 Caroline, Houston, 77002
Best Bingo
Heights Bingo at SPJST Lodge 88

Sure, you could belly up to a hot singles club or Upper Kirby haunt looking for love in all the wrong places, but why not roll the clock back and head into the Heights for some beer, burgers and bingo? This Thursday night institution in the neighborhood starts the weekend for many a horny and self-respecting, unattached yuppie.

1435 Beall, Houston, 77008

Best Alternative Club: Walters Houston


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