If you’re looking for unabashed homerism, the place to find it is NRG Stadium any Houston Texans home Sunday. Virile men and alluring women crowd the parking lots. They wear number 99 jerseys and grill assorted animal meat parts and show great finesse around the cornhole. Of all they do, the thing they do best is remind us all of the local sports adage: if you ain’t Houston, you ain’t much.
We wondered whether that wisdom applied to the music being played and the beer being poured at these tailgate gatherings. Houston’s music and craft brew scenes are flourishing and they’re frequently joined together for events like this month’s Untapped Festival. We wanted to know whether the Houston brews and tunes boon has made it beyond hip bars and breweries and into the mainstream. So, we asked some tailgaters if we could peek at their playlists and into their coolers. Here’s what we found:
The Texans Headhunterz are a large group. They don’t boast a show-offy corporate presence like some of the bigger gatherings on the Blue Lot, but are no less fervent about their favorite team. We were drawn to them by Lil Keke’s 1997 classic “Southside,” so we asked what other Houston selections were in the mix.
“Houston rappers. We grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s-era, that’s what we want to hear,” said spokesman Juan Carrizales, who then broke into song and carried the tune as well as Lamar Miller is carrying the ball these days. “We play, ‘Wanna be a baller, shot caller...'”
Carrizales said his group isn’t against newer music, but the familiar songs “get us hype,” which is critical on tailgate Sunday. Same goes for the crew’s beer selection.
“Craft brew — it’s not for everybody,” said Headhunterz’ Juan Alonzo, who was holding tightly to a Bud Light and keeping an eye on the big-screen TV.
This is where we note it’s not necessary to have craft brew or new music, Houston-based or otherwise, at your event to have a good time. Carrizales said the event is family fun, which is a terrific reason to be involved in anything; and, it’s a rite of passage to bring up the youngest of Texans fans.
“We all started as friends and we grew to be more than friends," Carrizales said. "This is family. We started this because we like football, we like the Texans and we always wanted to experience tailgating."
After our fair-to-middling team defeated the Smurfalicious Bitches (how the Sendejas household refers to the Tennessee Titans), the parties really cranked up. We met DJ Chivo, who was giving the crowd its money’s worth right ‘til the end at the Bullblastin Tailgaters tent.
“Throwing it down here with the Bullblastin Tailgaters at the NRG Stadium, you got your boy DJ Chivo on the ones and twos, the wheels of steel, yessir,” he said, never dropping the DJ parlance the entire time we chatted. “Music, of course you’ve gotta have ‘Turn Down For What,’ the Houston Texan anthem ‘Battle Red.’ You’ve gotta throw those for sure in the mix and some Chamillionaire and everything else that comes with it.”
We heard some S.U.C. and Swishahouse but wanted to know If he had any newer, independent artists in the mix. Could we hear Guilla, for instance, or Mark Drew, or maybe some Bigg Fatts, since by then at least a few of us were “Too Turned Up to Go Home.”
“Any music that you want, you come and request it and it’ll be on the decks right away,” he promised. Then, he went one better, Mike Jones-style.
“We wanna thank everybody that is reading this article at the moment and, of course, this is your boy DJ Chivo once again and my number is 281-432-7423. Don’t be shy to call me! It don’t matter if you call me or text me, I’ll pick up. If you got an event, there’s no event too small or too big for me to be able to handle it and help you out. Then again, if you wanna get on the Interweb – yessir, I said Interweb – you can find your boy DJ Chivo at ‘chivodej’ – that’s C-H-I-V-O-D-E-J – that’s where you’ll find your boy on Facebook.”
We let the Texans’ most animated parking-lot DJ finish his afternoon with friends, but he proved to be a friend to the current Houston music scene. Ten Sundays of the year, he’s got a captive audience there to listen to whatever music he selects. He’s given artists not only his Facebook info, but his direct phone line. If I were trying to get my music heard, I’d be hitting him up before I finished reading this.
I needed someone to chat up Houston craft beer and knew the man to do it. His name is Joey, he’s a home brewer and aficionado. (I know all this because he’s dating my niece, Allison.) They were tailgating with Kiley, Allison’s bestie, so I picked their brains and drank their Octoberfest.
“Honestly, I could enjoy any Houston craft beer you could bring up,” Joey shared. “Saint Arnold’s Karbach, you could bring Town In City, which is a new one coming up in the Heights – they’re all making a name for themselves, and honestly Houston has a big scene coming up.”
Which scene has more steam at the moment, I asked, Houston music or Houston craft beer?
“Honestly at this moment, I’d say the craft-beer scene because breweries are popping up left and right. Everyone wants to get in on this and it’s a wonderful thing to get into,” he said.
I asked which Houston acts they’d like to hear pumping from the speakers on the parking lot.
“Definitely the Wild Moccasins,” said Allison. She turned to Joey. “Who else is Houston?”
“I mean, you can’t go wrong with Beyonce,” he said.
“That’s true, she is Houston,” Kiley agreed.
They’d all seen Queen B together in concert in May.
“She was actually amazing and beautiful. It was honestly an angelic experience,” Joey said.
Since the only Houston acts these millennials could recall included one of the globe’s biggest superstars, I gave them a quick quiz. Two-thirds of them had heard of The Suffers. One knew who Danielle Bradbery was, and one knew of Onehunnidt. None were aware of the kickass offerings of Sik Mule or Second Lovers, two bands that play lots of shows here.
“I think it is hard for artists to become more mainstream, especially in Houston,” Joey said. “The key to growing, whether its craft beer or music, is social media. Honestly, that’s where we get a lot of news on new things.”
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Good advice. To that end, we’re offering the above playlist we hope tailgaters will consider sharing at their next tailgate. We also enlisted the help of our friend Jon Denman, who runs Drink of Ages Pub, and brings music and craft beer together on his weekly Drink of Ages Radio Show. We whipped up a list of beers tailgate nation should be quaffing any given Sunday and his list is rather tasty. Cheers!
Houston Craft Brews for Your Next Tailgate Party
As selected by Jon Denman, in no specific order:
Buffalo Bayou Sam’s Daily
Sigma Porter (fill up a growler, Denman says)
Southern Star Bombshell Blonde
Saint Arnold Art Car
Buffalo Bayou More Cowbell
B-52 Berliner (any variation, he notes)
Texian Brewery Black Jesus
Brazos Valley Mama Tried
Spindletap Hop Gusher