I recently spoke to local show promoter, Eric Dean, who you may remember from the much maligned Montrose Winter Social or may already know him as he has tackled multi-venue events such as Main Street Block Party, Prideapolooza, and his July 4th party at Numbers with success. He's gearing up for this weekend's event, the second installment of the Main Street Block Party, which promises to top last year's incredible throwdown.
Dean started on this path when he became the doorman at then newly opened Boondocks. He began paying attention to the way the shows were booked and who the bands were and continued his observations when he made the move over to Walter's. It was at Walter's that he was given an opportunity to book his first show which opened the door to getting control over more of the off nights.
Applying business ethics he picked up watching promoters like Ryan Chavez of Super Unison. "I would always try to pay...If I promise something I'm going to do it," Dean told Rocks Off. With his initial success fostering bands just starting out, he made the move into bigger all day events and booking the glorious Punk Night's at Mango's.
The show that made the biggest impact is undoubtedly the first Main Street Block Party. Last January "The Island" was jam-packed with dozens of local and regional bands, many unheard-of, and thousands of attendees throughout the day. With a lot riding on the cost of such a huge endeavor, Dean kept hustling even after breaking even by 8 p.m., with people coming through the door past midnight. But it wasn't just the money Dean cared about, it was giving upcoming bands a chance to be heard.
Helping new bands grow their audiences is something Dean takes pride in, but he's only going to work as hard for them as they work for him. "I'll tell them 'you get out there and I'll help you. If you can't commit to getting yourself out there, it's a hobby, don't come to me asking for a guarantee.'"
By getting out there, he means putting posters up, handing out flyers, hyping the show up online. And he doesn't just want bands working hard on promoting, "You see a band start up and they're mediocre at best, then they start getting a crowd and start upping their game," he said. He doesn't just want to see bands get the word out; he wants to see them get better on stage as well. "Like Tax the Wolf, we gave them their first show at Walter's and then BOOM! They win best new band. And now Mario has Bang Bangz. BOOM! Another win!"
It was perhaps his eagerness to give chances that lead to the issues at last December's Montrose Winter Social. A combination of untried partnerships, inexperienced performers and a logistical nightmare caused this very blog to issue a condemnation of the event and its organizer.
First mistake, he teamed up with people he had never partnered with before. "I depended on people I didn't know well enough and in some cases didn't they didn't come through because they weren't equipped for it," he said.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
His second mistake was not having a dependable contact at each venue, "I'd be at Numbers, then something at Avant Garden would get fucked up, then there was a problem at Number's again," Dean told us. The combination of the two left the bands to their own devices, especially earlier on. Dean feels he was criticized a bit harshly under the circumstances, "I booked this entire show myself, I'm not getting paid for this," he said. "Grade me on a curve. I lost my ass on the Winter Social."
For the second annual Main Street Block Party, Dean took those lessons to heart, "[I'm] bringing in the same crew from last year to help keep things running. I tried doing too much on my own at the Montrose Winter Social," he said. With the line-up he has planned, he's going to need all hands on deck. Spanning from indie rock, to hip hop to hardcore and more, he expects this year's attendance to top that of last year's.
"Some of these bands could command a $15 ticket price on their own, but it's a deal to get all these bands together."
Check out the line-up here.