Houston has come a long way in terms of live music over the past five or ten years. Once a place that many national touring acts would avoid, our city has grown into a hub where bands not only play, but enjoy performing for us. It could be the ever increasing population of our fair city, or just the fact that seeing live music has become much more of a hip thing to do, but whatever's the case bands are coming to town more than ever.
And not only are the bands coming, but so are the crowds. Our shows are not only increasing in attendance, but are regularly selling out. It used to be pretty far and few between where you couldn't buy tickets at the door to any show, but now you pretty much have to get your tickets ahead of time to guarantee entry whenever one of your favorite bands come to town.
Two years ago, a band like Trampled By Turtles, who headlined Fitzgerald's Friday evening, would generally see a fair amount of success, but would come nowhere near a sell-out. Now, there was pretty much no question that it would be packed from front to back without a ticket left to give away.
And that's good for showing bands the love that they deserve. They are giving their all for us day in and day out, despite being road-weary and tired, so why not show them that they're doing it for a reason. Houston was bit late to that party, but better late than never.
And that brings us to the back of the crowd at the super early start time of 8:15. While that seems like a weird time to see a band on a Friday night at Fitzgerald's, the unfortunate double booking of the oft-quiet, all-stringed Trampled By Turtles upstairs matched by the vociferous noisecore meddling's of Dillinger Escape Plan downstairs forced the quieter band to play earlier. While we all like to see music later in the evening, it was a fair compromise to actually get to hear TbT's set.
And thankfully we could hear it, because it was a burner. The crowd was already rowdy at the start of the set, and that only carried on through the rest of their performance. Actually, during some of their fast-paced newgrass tunes like "Darkness and Light" and "Wait So Long" while all the young professionals were hooting and hollering, stomping their nicest pair of boots away at Fitzgerald's wood floor, you'd question which of the two shows was louder.
But while it was fun at points to have so many intoxicatingly rambunctious dudes stomping away, it was unwelcome during TbT's slower-paced folkier material. A favorite of many a fan, "Alone," was spoiled by those trying to shout over the song to tell their friends about their day, and "The Calm and the Crying Wind" was ruined just the same.
Fortunately, though, they stuck to their faster material. And that might have been because they were playing off the crowd. No band likes to play a song to a crowd where no-one is paying attention. And certain parts definitely fell victim to just that. People must've seen the adjusted start time, and adjusted their start time to a much earlier one. People were definitely ready to party, and I have a feeling the TbT portion of their evening was just a pre-game for the rest of their evening.
Which is sad because they played their hearts out. It was also unfortunate that they had to deal with time restrictions because they assuredly cut their set short. Towards the end of their abbreviated performance, the heavy bass lines of one of the downstairs openers mixed with the chatty unappreciative crowd without a doubt led to the loss of TbT's mojo. Which also led to them skipping several of their more well-known numbers like "Codeine" and their cover of Pixies' "Where Is My Mind."
With a busy next day in New Orleans for Jazz Fest, Trampled By Turtles headed for greener pastures where the crowds definitely paid to appreciate the band rather than use it as an excuse to get drunk and loud earlier than usual.
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Personal Bias: I've loved this band for so damn long and this was definitely one of my most anticipated shows of the year thus far. I guess that's where a bit of my negativity towards the crowd might come from, but it was a bummer to not get a true experience with the band like the many times I've had in the past.
The Crowd: Don't get me started.
Overheard in the crowd: I said, don't get me started.
Random Notebook Dump: The crowd for Dillinger Escape Plan was super appreciative and awesome. I don't regularly listen to hardcore, but I had a much more enjoyable time with the folks downstairs than I did up. The show was pretty badass too.