"Houston could eat Austin," says Eric Dean, the new full-time booker at Mango's Café. "Twice!"
Casual jabs at the nation's music capitol, an air of confidence - without the slightest hint of arrogance, mind you - and an eager attitude concerning our city and its music define Dean, who has been routing shows into the small Montrose vegetarian eatery and music venue for the past three weeks.
"I think it's ridiculous that Houston only has only one credible festival," Dean says. "What's going on here? There are so many good bands in Houston but, I guess, unlike Austin there isn't a plethora of venues."
For this reason (among others), the seasoned promoter is both excited and optimistic about his new position. Despite its having recently fallen off the map in the eyes of many, he hopes the venue will continue to be a credible player in the Houston music scene and is eager to book new bands.
"I think a lot of people get lazy, and they just book the same bands over and over," Dean says. "Which isn't always a bad thing, but I try to get outside that and keep it to where you're seeing different faces every night."
However, Dean is fully aware that many Houston music fans aren't genre-specific, and he's not trying to scare off paying customers, whatever their taste.
"In Montrose, there are so many different types of people, but they're all music lovers," he says. "A lot of it crosses over - you'll catch kids at a Fat Tony show, and the same kids will be at Young Mammals or Wild Moccasins, too."
While Dean plans to continue booking acts that fans currently pay to see on a regular basis, he's also trying new things and bringing in new faces, hopefully from otherwise untapped audience markets.
"I think dubstep is catching on in a way different way than it was two years ago," Dean says by way of mentioning Mango's' Texas Dub Tuesdays. "I don't really like the house bullshit, but when you get that deep bass going and somebody starts freestyling... that's pretty dope. I'm actually reaching out to different hip hop artists in Houston to have freestyle battles with the dubstep."
The weekly event is already bringing in more than 200 people, Dean says. But while there's obviously a demand for it, Mango's isn't trying to become solely hip-hop-oriented.
"If you look at the calendar, it's about 15 percent hip-hop, and we're doing more punky, rock-type nights, and of course, my forte, which is just indie-rock in general," Dean says with a laugh, finally admitting that he has a preference. "I just try to keep it fresh."
Dean came to Mango's full-time only three weeks ago, but he's not exactly new to the venue. He worked on 2010's Fat Tony Presents Black Christmas, and has been a promoter and booker at a few venues around town, most recently for the string of shows Rocks Off detailed last week.
Don't ask him to work downtown anymore, though.
"I'll never do another show downtown on Pease again," Dean says. "Whether it's Echo or Groundhall - hell no. People, in general, do not want to drive down there, and even if I'm doing a free show, who wants to pay $15 for parking?"
Dean feels the Montrose area is much more suitable for the various types of music he's promoting.
"With Mango's, it's kind of a no-brainer," he says. "Montrose is the melting pot of Houston, so you're going to have all types of music. It serves as a good venue to give these up-and-coming bands a chance.
"And you've got to give everybody a chance."
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Dean is still trying to figure out what works, and while he admits to being partial toward indie-rock, he's not predisposed to booking any specific genre. In fact, he's more than happy to help bands find suitable acts to play with, if they contact him and send him some music that he can get a vibe from.
"It's hit or miss," he says. "But if it gets a good crowd response, let it play."