The Rocks Off 200: Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Phil Peterson outside Houston House of Creeps
Photos courtesy of Phil Peterson
Who? Rocks Off wouldn't say we know Phil Peterson that well, but we do know that he is one of the most unique personalities we've come across in our seven-plus years of covering the Houston music scene. Every time we run into him, which is at roughly every third concert where at least one local act is on the bill, Peterson is there and usually brimming with enthusiasm about one of the upcoming shows he's promoting.
So local musicians and bands, Peterson is a good guy to know, because he is a better conduit into the local scene than just about anyone else in town. Through his AR*V company, he promotes shows at grass-roots venues like Notsuoh and the Alley Kat, places that are (thanks to him) willing to take a chance on experimental or just inexperienced acts. He also has a hand in booking the heavily local multi-act/multi-venue festivals that have appeared in recent years such as the Main Street Block Party and Yes Indeed!, which relocates to the Continental Club/Big Top/Alley Kat Mid-Main compound next month.
Even better, once Peterson has booked a show, his years of experience as a musician, stagehand and sound engineer means he knows exactly how to make the acts he's booked sound the way they're supposed to. He grew up in several different areas of Houston -- "East End/Second Ward by way of Spring Branch, Katy, the Galleria and Montrose (in that order)," he notes -- which could have something to do with the eclectic nature of the events with which he involves himself. Some of them have a rough theme, like last weekend's "Glitch/Hop/Tronica" bill at Numbers (sorry we missed that one, Phil), but just as often they're a true grab bag.
"[I'm] fully dedicated to the concept of musical entertainment as an energy exchange between stage and audience," Peterson says. "My goal it to always ensure a situation for artists where they can focus all their energy into their music/performance, a memorable/pleasant/fulfilling experience for [the] audience, and success for the venue.
"Mixing of genres and acts that have not performed together before, to 'cross-pollinate' amongst fans of different acts, and that includes introducing acts to each other," he adds. "There is no higher compliment to me than when fans, artists and venue are all feeling a vibe and finding joy in the moment."
Home Base: "Anywhere with free Wifi," the well-traveled Peterson grins. Short of that, he'll take Poison Girl and/or AvantGarden in Montrose, Bohemeo's/Voodoo Queen on the Eastside, Notsuoh downtown (figures) or the Alley Kat/Continental Club two-step in Midtown.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Because the level of talent in all creative/artistic endeavors is fucking incredible," Peterson says. "And I want to be part of developing that talent, and all my friends are here. Even though some do leave, I think the opportunities and potential for success is absolutely limitless."
Good War Story: "My lawyers have advised me [not] to discuss, until pending litigation is over," he says.
Very funny, Phil.
"Honestly, the usual...," Peterson insists. "Onstage band fights, venues double-booked, equipment failure..."
That seems to jog his memory.
This reminds me way back when Axxis was active (barely out of high school), we went down to play SPI Fest [on] South Padre Island during Spring Break. I think Spunk was co-headlining (yes -- I am old), and we were last act of a two-day festival.
The promoters didn't have any money, so they were letting security get drunk on the keg beer. There was one mike, for the band (we were a trio, and all sang), and we played on "stage" made of pallets. A band that had played earlier had been bragging about how much acid they had brought...well, during our first song, during the breakdown one of them came up onstage, completely out of his head, [and] started to scream into the mike turned around, did a Jesus Christ pose, and just let himself fall face first into the drums.
Needless to say, our drummer came up off his throne to throw him off the kit, as at the same time I grabbed him by the hair and so both of us literally threw him back into the crowd, which by then was just a huge mosh pit. I knew he was so fucked up that if we beat him to a pulp, he wasn't even gonna notice. So that was frustrating, LMAO.
Story continues on the next page.
Peterson (right) with Lucas Gorham (left) and Gorham's sister Krystah
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "Houston crowds always start looking at their watches at around 12:30 [a.m.]...even on a weekend," Peterson fumes. "Just fucking relax, people! Go to a show and forget the world...that's wassup!"
Five Desert Island Discs: "So tough...it's a mood/nostalgia thing," Peterson admits.
- The Beatles, The Beatles ("White Album")
- Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
- The Fugees, The Fugees
- Iron Maiden, Killers
Honorable Mentions: Beck, Odelay; Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty; Bjork, Debut
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "Another tough one, probably a tie between my first (Queen, with Heart, [The] Teardrop Explodes, and Joan Jett) and a show at The Unicorn with Anthrax, Public Enemy and Primus. [The] most diverse crowd and music, [and] everyone was super-friendly and supportive despite the fact we all had almost nothing in common (on the surface).
"YES I AM OLD," Peterson reiterates with a smile.
First Song You Fell In Love With: "I remember being in the back of our family car counting how many times The Beatles sang 'Naaaaaa.. Naaaa-naaaa Nanana-naaaaaaa...Nanana-naaaaaa...heeeyyyyy Jude!'", he says. "So again, nostalgia for the win. And that probably explains why I do what I do... if music that I help introduce someone to can make a positive lifelong impact...that's the shit!"
Peterson's next AR*V production is Naughty Professor, Handsomebeast and Howl & the Rougarou this Thursday, August 14 at the Alley Kat Bar & Lounge, 3718 Main. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
John Janatsch, Mayor of Houston Rock City Frank Ortiz, Synth-Pop Served Perfectly frank. Optimo Ram, Online Radio Jefe Meagan Chambers, Don't Gag Her Gorgeous Guitar Justin Nava, the Voice of thelastplaceyoulook Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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