The Houston music scene infected me at a very young age. I was 12 years old when I first stepped into the famous music venue Fitzgerald’s. My older brother was in a local band while he was in high school, and they often played different music events and competitions at Fitz. So there I was – young and wide-eyed, surrounded by worn-out black walls and bearded men drinking beer, walking on the creaky and unstable wooden floors. It was Fitz in all its glory, and little did I know the unforgettable memories that 2706 White Oak, and the whole Houston music scene in general, would give me in the coming years.
If I am remembering correctly, that was my first real concert: a local Battle of the Bands competition in 2008. Since then, my love for music — and, more important, live music — has grown as I started discovering new bands of all different sounds and all different genres. I remember falling in love with Imogen Heap’s music in seventh grade, and when I heard she was coming to Verizon Wireless Theater (RIP), I got those two tickets (one for me and one for my mom) right away. At this point, I was at that age where I was independent enough to go places on my own but couldn’t drive yet, so my mom or dad just stayed at the concert with me. I’m sure my mom loved witnessing loud drag queens and lots of drug use at the Robyn concert at Warehouse Live, or stepping on spilled beer and plastic cups at Marina & the Diamonds, or listening to the noisy garage-rock drones of the opening act of whatever indie band I wanted to see. By the time I was in eighth grade, I knew all the ins and outs of most popular music venues in the greater Houston area, so when I got my driver’s license, I think we all know what my gas money was going towards.
With the recent announcement of Fitzgerald’s closure (only for a few weeks, I know, but it's still symbolic) and my departure to New York City to start my first year of college earlier this month, I started reminiscing on the Houston music scene and all it has done for me. Basically, I am writing this to say thank you, Houston. Thank you for harboring my love of music. Whoever I wanted to see on tour, it’s likely that there was a Houston date, and whatever type of concert I wanted to attend, there was definitely a place for it to happen. From huge radio events like 104.1 KRBE’s Jingle Jam in 2009, where I saw artists like Rihanna, David Archuleta and Colbie Caillat, to small indie shows at Walters Downtown, being in Houston has exposed me to such a wide variety of musical experiences.
Thank you for giving me some of the most memorable experiences of my formative years. I’ll never forget when Florence Welch was three feet away from me as she ran down the aisle at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in 2012, or when I was front row for Janelle Monáe at House of Blues in 2013, or when I skipped my SAT-prep class to go with my friends to see Alt-J at Revention Music Center. These are the memories that stay with you, and ones I feel I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
Lastly, thank you to Chris Gray and the Houston Press music blog for always being on top of all things Houston music, and for being so great. Taking photos of my favorite artists in action and writing concert reviews and other music-related articles has been one of the coolest experiences ever, and has taught me so much.
From meeting my favorite band, the xx, by their tour bus after their show in 2013 to constantly being angered about the “Pass the Line” deal at House of Blues (until eventually giving in to that horrid corporate stunt and buying one myself), experiencing the Houston music scene has, in a way, shaped me into the kind of person I am today. And as I move on to this new chapter in my life, I will always know those worn-out black walls and creaky wooden floors of Fitz's as my home.
Don’t tell anyone I said this, but H-Town hold it dine.
Ivan Guzman is now a freshman at NYU in New York City.