Concerts

Last Weekend: When We Ruled H-Town Showcase at Fitzgerald's

Note: It took us a little while to track down pictures from the show. Thanks again to Mr. Adler for letting us use his. -- Ed.

When We Ruled H-Town reunion feat. deadhorse, Manhole, Tread, Wishbone Bush, Taste of Garlic, Fitzgerald's August 3-4, 2012

An interesting experiment happened in Houston over the weekend. Before Houston's top performers of 2012 took over ten downtown venues Sunday for the Houston Press Music Awards showcase extravaganza, a bunch of their counterparts from 1992 had their own thing going on across town.

To celebrate the release of When We Ruled H-Town, the new documentary about Houston's '90s rock scene by J. Schneider, Brent Himes and Robbie Conley, the filmmakers tracked down a slew of the old bands featured in the movie to relive a few glory days at Fitzgerald's. The goal seemed to be nothing less than to disappear back in time for two nights into a scene mostly forgotten until now.

That sounds excellent in theory, but the '90s were a long-ass time ago. Could these old dudes really still get onstage without embarrassing themselves? And would anybody care?

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Both questions were immediately answered with a resounding "Hell, yes." It was a little astonishing how little rust was evident from musicians who in some cases hadn't been onstage together in more than 15 years. Keeping the sets short was probably a wise decision, but more than one act looked capable of stepping in and blowing the young whippersnappers at the HPMAs on Sunday off the stage.

When I arrived not long after the doors opened Friday night, the few people who'd already shown up were all clustered around the deadhorse merch. As it happened, the legendary horse went on first upstairs, which seemed a bit odd. No matter. Just like the old days, they drew the biggest crowd of the weekend for their set, and people went off hard.

With Mike Argo handling vocals, this wasn't a reunion of the band's classic lineup. Most headbangers didn't care. One shaggy graybeard near me muttered, "That ain't deadhorse," between songs, but even he seemed to come around after "World War Whatever."

Put simply, it's not every goddamn day in 2012 that you get to see deadhorse cover "Rock Lobster." Every show they play is a big deal.

The crowd-surfing got so intense at one point that the stage bouncers got into a shoving match with the audience in an attempt to keep fans off the monitors. Guess who won that one.

After an encore, a couple deadhorse fans on the patio complained to me that the set was too short. They felt ripped off. If they stuck around, they got more than their money's worth.

Deadhorse may have been the Kings of the Axiom, but there were a lot of heavy bands drawing crowds back then, and as I was about to learn, many of them can still go.

I'd never heard of bands like Manhole, Tread and Wishbone Bush before watching the doc -- I was 12 years old and half a state away during their heyday. The endless smiles, hugs and handshakes onstage and in the crowd -- and even a few tears -- let me know that they hadn't been forgotten by the people who were there.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith