From the looks of things upstairs, 804 would have little more to offer than cheap drinks, odd stares and rambling conversation from a handful of career drunks. But hang around looking stupid long enough, and the perky blond bartender is liable to direct you through the saloon-style swinging doors and down the stairs to the Underground Lounge, where the atmosphere is more to an urban nightcrawler's liking.
Decades ago, 804's basement level was home to a hopping strip joint. When current owner Randy Thornton took it over last fall, it was a dusty, dirty, decrepit eyesore that hadn't seen human contact in six years (when it was just a plain old bar). So he cleaned it up, applying a little orange paint and laying down some cheap carpeting. He kept the club's '70s-era, Formica-and-vinyl decor intact while adding a few minor, offbeat touches (blue lights in the ceiling fixtures, for example). Come November, 804 was in business.
From the start, 804 has had the distinct advantage of being an underground nightclub that is actually located underground. These days, DJs strut their stuff on a stage once reserved for the ladies, and the male-to-female ratio is far more socially tolerable. The club is open Tuesday to Saturday, with each night offering a different brand of DJ-driven entertainment. The Goth rockers come out on Tuesdays; Wednesdays feature a guitar-based Brit-pop and rock mix hosted by Tim Murrah; Thursdays are set aside for old-school jazz; Fridays feature various guest DJs; and Saturdays, the ubiquitous Sean Carnahan spins house music.
At the moment, you're likely to find the biggest crowds on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But if you want to suck down a Rolling Rock and soak up 804's retro-cheesey atmosphere in relative peace, try Friday.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.