Ever since a big "For Lease" sign went up on the side of Montrose rock dive Mango's in December, local underground music fans have been patiently and glumly waiting for word to come down regarding the venue's official closing date. Nearly four months later, though, the place remains up and running, and at least one guy is hoping he can help keep it that way.
Juan Carlos Newton took over booking duties at Mango's late last year when former manager/booker Brandon Bowers left the country in a hurry. (Relax; he's conducting field research.) If anybody knows when the last gig at Mango's will take place, it's Newton. Right now, all he'll say is that it won't be soon.
"I'll do my best to keep it open as long as possible, and it's going pretty well," Newton says. "But I can't give you an exact date at this point. If all goes well, (Mango's) should be around for a while, which is what I'm hoping. That's why I'm doing this Save Mango's show this weekend."
That's right: On Friday and Saturday, many of the friendly local freaks who have made Mango's such a crushingly loud and amusingly strange place to catch live music will rally to help keep the doors open. Eighteen groups will play on the club's cozy stage and in its minuscule parking lot, hoping to drum up enough bar tabs to make its continued survival begin to seem like an attractive proposition to owner Eduardo Lopez.
REWIND: Nice Knowing You, Mango's
Newton says the bands, including high-decibel weirdos like Turbokrieg, Mindboil, STRESS33 and Cop Warmth, are donating their time to the free show because it's too important a venue to disappear.
"It's one of those places that's not quite a big venue -- it's a smaller-scale venue -- but it provides quality acts that you probably won't see anywhere else," he says. "What's really happening in the scene goes there, especially nowadays. I've been going there for years, and played there millions of times. It's a very essential place for the community."
To save it, though, Newton will have to get creative. That's why he'll begin booking matinees in April, and why he's already scheduled a second Save Mango's mini-fest for the weekend of May 30. The booker says that the club's future will likely be evaluated this summer, when its liquor license expires. So, if you'd like to see Mango's stay open, consider dropping by. Bring money. And maybe toilet paper.
"A lot depends on how well me and the team can do to provide sales," Newton says. "I think something that's been missed is the fact that Mango's just kind of got 'let go' a lot. I'm going to try to keep a busy calendar and good shows coming. That's kind of been neglected for a little bit, you know."
The music kicks off outside on Friday, harkening back to one of Houston's most beloved and missed community-building events: the Westheimer Street Festival.
"There were so many really good shows when WestFest used to happen," Newtown says. "People would be walking down the street and see an amazing band, like, 'Who are these people?' That always really struck a chord with me.
"I think we need to exploit that feeling, because that's a really priceless parking lot," he adds.
Save Mango's kicks off at 8:30 p.m. Friday with IPV, Turbokrieg, Mindboil, Satannabis, Thundertank and more. 403 Westheimer. Admission is free.
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