What Are Walker Lukens and the Side Arms Doing In the Texans' Practice Bubble?
If you live in Houston and are obsessed with the local pro football franchise (like most people), you might recognize the setting of Walker Lukens' "When I Lost You, Goddamn, I Lost" video, which his people were kind enough to let us premiere right here on Rocks Off. (It's at the top of Page 2.)
As you can see above, the band shot the clip at the Methodist Training Center, known to most people driving by Reliant Park as "The Bubble," because it looks like one. Lukens you may not be quite as familiar with, but he's a swoon-worthy pop singer-songwriter who can also rock a little a la Coldplay's Chris Martin or Ray LaMontagne, or slather on a little Black Keys-style squelch. He grew up in Houston before we lost him to Austin, but says he wouldn't mind moving back someday.
More on that later, but for now this begs the question of how Lukens wound up shooting his band the Side Arms' video in the Bubble. The artist says that after a couple of years as a solo act, he wanted to do something that would reintroduce him as part of a band. Also, his drummer's dad happens to be the Texans' equipment manager, so they were already off to a good start.
"The idea of playing in an empty stadium just seemed so funny, a little sad and too good of a stunt to pass up," says Lukens via email. "So Drew [Brunetti] bugged his dad until we found a good weekend to come down to Houston."
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So the band has the connections, but did they actually have permission to film inside the Texans' facility?
"You will notice the conspicuous absence of all official NFL and Texans sponsors' signage," Lukens allows. "This was not a coincidence."
His chutzpah doesn't stop there. Lukens argues that "Goddamn, I Lost," a jangly, shaggy-dog tune from his 2013 album Devoted, would make ideal entrance music for the "Bulls" parading onto the Reliant Stadium turf.
"It's not as metal or rocking as Disturbed, sure, but that song was not recorded in the Texans' practice stadium," says Lukens. "Maybe the song would help relax the team before kickoff, as it would remind them of being in practice.
"Maybe the song would help relax the team before kick off as it would remind them of being in practice," he adds. "Perhaps another way to think of the refrain, 'Goddamn, I lost' would be to think of it as, 'Goddamn, I outran you.' The team could play it every time DeAndre Hopkins or Arian Foster has a breakaway run."
That sounds a little more plausible, although Lukens will cop to not even being the biggest Texans fan in his own band. (After growing up here and living in New York for a spell, though, he says he does enjoy rooting for the underdog.)
He has been told, Lukens says, "we will no longer practice on Sundays come August, and that we ought to schedule our tour around the Texans' bye week." He also polled the Side Arms about the Texans' chances this fall and received the following responses.
"Two words: Ed Reed."
"Ed Reed. DeAndre Hopkins."
"You know, football season really iddn't that far away."
Photo courtesy of Tyler Cannon Media
"We shored up what we needed to."
"Then they started talking about needing to always worry about the Colts and, goddamn, I lost where the conversation was going," he says.
As for his adopted home, Austin "makes sense for now," Lukens reasons, but he's not thrilled with people in the Live Music Capital trying to sell him mediocre crawfish "for the price of an oyster."
He also casts a vote that Houston is actually much weirder of the two places.
"Austin is great," Lukens says. "It is not weird anymore. If you'd like a truly weird experience, park at the Menil and see world class art. Then, walk a quarter mile down the street to the taco truck next to West Alabama Ice House. Eat the best taco of your life.
"Then, walk another quarter mile south to Richmond Ave," he adds. "Go to one of the best dive bars ever, Ruthie's place. To make it a truly, truly weird experience, do it like a Houstonian and drive instead."
Walker Lukens and the Side Arms play Fitzgerald's (downstairs) Saturday night. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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