Bayou City

Will White Oak Music Hall's Outdoor Stage Be Ready by Its Next Show?

Perhaps leaving some music fans on edge, it's still not entirely clear whether the outdoor stage at White Oak Music Hall will be up and running by its next-scheduled outdoor show, on October 22, when Canadian R&B singer Alessia Cara is in town.

White Oak's temporary permit for the outdoor stage expired October 5, taking the stage down with it. Its expiration comes after Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council rebuked the White Oak developers' plan to simply reapply for another temporary permit, instead demanding that W2 Development Partners — the dudes behind the expansive music-venue playground including White Oak Music Hall, its accompanying outdoor venue and Raven Tower next door — apply for a permanent one. At that City Council session, Turner and company also echoed various complaints from neighbors in the near northside area who had complained several times to the police and city about the noise.

Still, probably much to the neighbors' disappointment, the music-minded developers had promised avid concertgoers not to worry: All planned outdoor shows would go on, as developer Johnny So told the Houston Press last month.

So had said they were working with the city to get the permit issue resolved. But with the Alessia Cara show 12 days away, the permanent permit has yet to be approved for the outdoor stage, according to Public Works spokesman Gary Norman.

Don't sweat it just yet: Norman said the developers submitted final plans October 4 (there have been seven past revisions) for the permanent stage that are under review by the permitting department. He could not estimate whether the plans would be fully approved by October 22. Norman did say, though, that all structural plans have been approved — but the developers needed corrections to the plans for plumbing, storm drainage, wastewater and electrical components. As for all those past revisions: Twice the plans were returned because they were incomplete; twice developers pulled them themselves because they wanted to make additions; and the rest were all due to corrections, which Norman said was not unusual.

Perhaps the eighth time's a charm? 

Norman said that noise levels are not a part of the building code that White Oak must meet to erect the permanent stage, so it doesn't look like the noise complaints will have much effect on the city's ability to approve or reject the plans. Norman said it's the Houston Police Department's job to enforce the city's sound code, not that of building inspectors. 

On the night of White Oak's first outdoor show — a spectacular performance by The Flaming Lips — HPD received 12 noise complaints, the Houston Chronicle reported. According to the Chron, Mayor Turner and city officials said the noise ordinance was not violated at White Oak's most recent outdoor show, Explosions in the Sky.

So declined comment for this story, and other developers on the White Oak team did not return requests for comment.

Other upcoming lawn shows beyond October 22 include The Head and The Heart on October 27; Rebelution on October 28; Pet Shop Boys on November 2; and Morrissey on November 19.
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Meagan Flynn is a staff writer at the Houston Press who, despite covering criminal justice and other political squabbles in Harris County, drinks only one small cup of coffee per day.
Contact: Meagan Flynn