One of the great local promoter success stories this year was the incredible turnout for Anything Box at Numbers in April. The project was the brainchild of Robert Ehlinger, who has parlayed his potent mix of synth-pop and goth into an ever more successful monthly night at Etro called The New Beat.
"I am and have been a huge fan of synth-pop for a long time," says Ehlinger. "Houston has always been a hot spot for synth-pop/'80s music in general, and we are celebrating that, so to speak. A few years back, I wrote a blog about all the '80s nights in Houston and how there was a lot of unplayed '80s underground, Italo and synth-pop that would be great to hear in a club format.
"As far as I know there has never been a synth-pop night. I really wanted to start spinning again, and about a week later DJ Zelus gave me the opportunity to guest spot at Etro and the rest is history."
Though not a technically a goth night, a great many local scenesters frequent New Beat. The relationship between the two genres is reinforced by frequent guest spots by Underworld DJs like Carmina Bell and Breye 7x, as well as a triumphant return of DJ Question last week from hiatus in fatherhood.
Bell and Breye partnered with Ehlinger on the Anything Box show, which Breye's band Provision opened; the team is expected to announce another show later this month. Ehlinger speaks quite highly of the support and stregnth of the goth community, in particular calling Bell a "pillar of the music scene."
The New Beat continues to grow, with bigger and bigger turnouts every time as Houstonians flock to hear the darker side of electronica.
"Honestly, I think The New Beat has done well for a few reasons," says Ehlinger. "We don't charge cover at the door and never have. Etro is also an excellent venue with a diverse crowd.
"Also, I think since there has never really been a night that focuses on '80s-type genres such as synth-pop, and Italo Disco I think its a fresh sound for the audience even though its old."
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The night continues to attractk high-class DJs. DJ Mike Snow, formerly of Spy and the original Club 6400, will spin on Sept. 18, and Oct. 23rd New Beat will host Paul Robb of the original Information Society.
"I feel I am giving something back to synth-pop if I keep the music a current sound in the Montrose area, as it should be," Ehlinger says.
"In the end, I really don't do this for myself I do it for the music since it has done so much for me, and I do it for like-minded synth-pop fans."
The New Beat happens every Saturday at Etro, 1424A Westheimer.