Scout Bar (18307 Egret Bay Blvd., Clear Lake) is not what we were expecting.
See, the combination live-music venue and dance club was opened by Thomas Wilson in 2004. Wilson is keyboardist and vocalist for The Hunger, the still-performing local electronic-rock band with nearly 18 years of experience. Put frankly, The Hunger's live shows have been known to rock tits.
So given Scout Bar's authentic rock genesis, we (perhaps unfairly) were expecting to walk into some Jesus-and-Mary-Chain, North-London-Polytechnic riot shit. We were expecting a whirlwind of piss-and-vinegar performances, people drunk beyond oblivion and knuckle-dusting fisticuffs, and open solicitations of sexual debauchery. Currently we're witnessing one of the three, and, unfortunately, it ain't the last one.
Vatos Locos are onstage and, despite the band's sinful intentions, the crowd is not whipped into a frenzy. Not to slight Vatos Locos — the onetime winners of the Houston Press's Music Award for Best Punk are always down for some rocking shenanigans, particularly lead guitarist Ed Senior, who bears a slight resemblance to that longhaired Mexican dude in Con Air who's been cast in the same role for the past 15 years — but the crowd is sedate. Painfully so.
Most people are just sitting there, drinking their drinks and watching the performance, somehow impervious to the contagious aura of a live punk-rock show. It's odd, but apparently it's the status quo. At least we're not the only ones who have noticed it.
"Yeah, I know exactly what you're talking about," confirms Wilson. "Sometimes I wish people would get a little more rowdy but they don't, and that all comes with the mentality. We're real close to the beach, and that brings a lot of skaters and surfers in here. They want to have a pitcher of beer and watch the band play — they'll hoot and howl, but they don't get up and start mosh pits."
No they don't. Hell, even a girl with a knee brace and crutches makes it through the evening's shows without being knocked to the ground once.
But don't make the erroneous connection between passivity and boredom; it's hardly that. Despite its somewhat awkward layout — formerly a smaller venue called Liquid Lounge, the club became Scout Bar when Wilson's then neighbors packed up and moved out, and he expanded the bar into their space — weekend nights at Scout Bar are as likely to be filled to capacity as any you'll find in Houston.
And the venue itself is fairly enjoyable. The stage is wide open and conducive to most forms of rock malevolence, yet the crowd's housing is just cramped enough for things to get heated. If you can manage to avoid wandering into the Green Room, Scout Bar's smaller, noticeably less enjoyable dance club, your experience will be all the better for it.
Even the majority of the memorabilia that covers the walls was collected from bands that have Scout Bar roots. The collectibles run the gamut from very cool (a record plaque for Cake's Fashion Nugget) to extremely lame (an autographed picture of Fred Durst).
"I don't like to put signed memorabilia up if they haven't played Scout," Wilson explains. "I've got a guitar signed by Disturbed that I keep at my house because they haven't played [here]."
Scout's Sunday-night shows are co-signed by 94.5 The Buzz and have grown organically to become the cornerstone of the club's foundation, says Wilson. Those shows are decidedly more punkish, while most Thursday through Saturday nights are often reserved for touring hard-rock and metal shows, though '80s geek-rockers supreme the Spazmatics are also a popular recurring draw. Wednesdays are college nights, so expect the usual there — douche-y guys doing douche-y things.
Whatever your rock-flavored poison, though, you'll probably find something to your liking at Scout.
"Rock caters to all varieties," says Wilson. "And so do we. Doesn't matter who they are; I'm happy to have them."
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And if nothing else, at least you probably won't have to worry about getting hit in the head with a bottle.
As you might have heard, Rock the Bayou (see elsewhere in Music) is this weekend at the grounds formerly housing AstroWorld. All indications point towards a kick-ass show (read Nightfly's totally professional interview with Bret Michaels at blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks), but if you prefer your music a little more soulful, Texas Music Festival is also going on at Reliant Park.
TMF Platinum Circle Seating is a mere $100 and is good for all three days. "We have performers from all genres — gospel to R&B to Latin, and everything in between," says TMF's Junie Harris. "We have made every effort to make the festival an event that will appeal to everyone." Look for stellar shows from Nightfly faves Rissi Palmer, Fred Rusk, The O'Jays and David Lee Garza, to name but a few.