Last Night: New Year's Eve Cataclysm at Fitzgerald's

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Free Press Houston New Year's Eve Cataclysm Feat. Buxton, Infinite Apaches, Robert Ellis, Ben Godfrey Fitzgerald's December 31, 2012

Devil, your name be "Michelada." Who else could I blame for a New Year's Eve that seems to exist only as flashes and sounds and 11 pages of barely legible notes? Let's piece together the night that was from the memories that remain...

Page 1 finds me finally inside Fitzgerald's, watching Buxton from just above the sound booth. The first thing that I've noted is that there are a ton of people here who were also at Teotihuacan, the source of these mind-erasing cerveza preparadas.

Is this a clue that the night was just a fabricated experience? A "Torta Recall," as I see indicated in my scrawled-stylus hand?

Buxton, a band who I have not seen since I shared a stage with them many years ago, has in that time become one of those "important" bands. And it's no surprise. They have taken the alt-country/Americana sound and wrapped it in an emo-indie flour tortilla... like the quesadillas that I now remember having with my micheladas.

Here and there lines typically reserved for the steel guitar cut through with the full force of guitarist Jason Willis's fretwork, creating something that falls west of early-2000s Wilco but east of The Avett Brothers. And Sergio Trevino just has such an affable delivery that sells every story he sings. I would hire him to sing me the news, if I were a crazy millionaire who needed the news sung to her.

Failing that, I'm gonna check my hard drive for some old Cedar Boy Bailey tracks.

Halfway down page two, I had run downstairs for Infinite Apaches. I was eager to see these guys again. I had only seen them once, in what was in words Ramon Medina once used to describe an ill-practiced first show by an old band of mine, "a train wreck of missed chord changes and forgotten lyrics."

But just like Ramon became an ¡Alarma! fan for life, I was totally turned on by what these dudes had going on. The band I encountered last night was hardly recognizable... you know, aside from the fact that every member looks like Mitch from Dazed & Confused but with a mustache; something that you can't unsee.

I see that I've recorded "new wave goth Doors" (complete with the lines through the "o"'s). I'm finding that a bulk of these notes are complaints on the Doors, a band that I apparently reviled greatly in 2012, but now in the soggy gray morning of 2013 I bear no ill will.

(Was it my bass player's indignation? Was it Morrison's snakey hips? Was it PTSD from Corey Haim's death? They should put a trigger warning at the beginning of The Lost Boys if they're going to show it every day during Halloween.)

Before my brain could settle into the "critic zone" necessary to evaluate the musical performance, I had to process the sight of a fella who looked a hell of a lot like Corey Glover grasping his crotch in time to the music with a ferocity I haven't seen since the shoe-bashing at the Fidros Square statue destruction. I began to notice that downstairs wasn't just a different show, it was a different life. I can't imagine a world where a casual attendee would be here to see both of these bands.

"Feels like a Desperate Teenage Lovedolls band." Did I write this because they look like Red Kross? Wait no, there's more. I was into it. They "take the 'anyone can do it' aesthetic of punk and apply it to stoner blues a la a revved-up Blue Cheer."

But there was something odd at play. Almost as though they were trying their hands at being two different bands. Was my mind fooling me? One moment they were reenacting that time that Jack White pretended to be in Pink Floyd, and the next they were droning mope-pop in a dark Brooklyn warehouse time machine straight out of 2008.

Though I enjoyed both ends of the Apaches' style spectrum, I preferred the stuff that sounded like darkwave-by-way-of-Motown, which I don't think they set out to do intentionally but I'll take either way. On the heavier numbers I noted that the bass lines both went right up to the line of being too funky but broke just at the limit and that "I imagine moms probably get really horny to {them]."

And at one point they must have played something that reminded me of both Santana and ska at the same time, which drove me to make a list of local '90s ska bands that also got "too funky" at times (Ground Turkey, Middlefinger, The Mod Squad). And finally, because I enjoy comedy, a call back to "moms' tits."

It isn't until page seven that I have mentioned Robert Ellis's sharp new haircut. And it isn't until now that I'll reveal a shameful secret... I haven't seen Robert Ellis since his last Mango's show a couple of years back. But it did make it a little more special sharing the last moments of the old year with a musician who built a community around the music he loves.

Though I regretfully never had a chance to attend one of his Whiskey Wednesdays after they moved to Fitz, I could see the ritual built between good people looking for a good time, and it reminded me of the social circles brought together back when Danseparc was mandatory. Robert and the Boys did us all right as the new year approached.

Before the FPSF pass-filled balloons dropped, Omar and Jagi said a few words. Omar remarked on going into 2013 with "hope, not fear," which I found particularly touching. And Jagi spoke on the subject of the treatment of women, which was sadly drowned out by a drunk girl yelling "shut up" (did she think midnight would happen when he stopped talking?).

Robert Ellis took back to the stage with Ben Godfrey (of Listenlisten) and Buxton to just absolutely kill it with "Highwayman." If it's true what you do on the first day of the new year informs what you'll do for the rest of the year, I couldn't do much better than having this be the first song I heard in the 2013.

From what I can gather, I had a fantastic night, and I hope you all did, too. I know 2012 was a rough one for a lot of us, but let's forget all that and look forward to what we can make in 2013. Let's look forward to the new bands that are going to start, the new favorite songs that are going to be sung, and the shows that will change us for the better, forever.

Now I plan on starting the new year how I ended the old one, on the wings of a tomato-based cocktail.

Personal Bias: I went into this one hoping to catch Buxton, Infinite Apaches, Robert Ellis and B L A C K I E. I was three for four ("blackout" didn't count, this isn't horseshoes OR hand grenades).

The Crowd: It was like a party in a movie, there were little cliques from all walks of life representin'. I've got bleached and bronzed teens dragging forced formal wear jocks by their dad's borrowed ties, formerly "with-it" couples spicing things up, a trio of dudes on the make for some ball-dropping strange, what I'm assuming was a flashmob that just agreed to be in the same place at the same time with suspenders, bowties and handlebar mustaches, BIKERS.

Overheard in the Crowd: While I rattled off some choice gems over the course of the night -- "SPOTTED!: Aaron Danger's hair is HUGE!"; "We're all Bandidos now"; and "is that somebody's abuela!?" after discovering someone sitting near the window at the house next to Fitzgerald's -- the real story from the crowd was the arrest of a girl who "totally dated my friend" and whose "dad is a lawyer, I think."

Apparently a beer bottle had been knocked off the balcony and had hit someone, and the police officers working security zipped into action. I looked down to see more but instead caught a girl Ralph Macchio-ing her guts out in the grass. I shrugged "Happy New Year!" to her barf-beleaguered friends. I'm not sure what led to the arrest, but there was yelling and smartphone videos and (assumed) public urination.

Random Notebook Dump: I found a list of terrible music to have sex to (the Ghostbusters theme, Yes, "Hot Hot Hot," Tori Amos...I'm surprised the Doors didn't make it considering the pages I dedicated to hating them); a description of me trying to figure out the gender of an androgynous crowd member by walking by and comparing our feet (verdict: female), and a list of people/things I passed on the way to the car ("two ponytail guys," "rapping dude," "house party with stripper pole in doorway").

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