Meridian: A Retrospective Of Better Days

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The Meridian Saga seems to have ended, after close to a year of weirdness and shady business dealings. In the past twelve months it went through overhauls, new management, lockouts, changes in image, mild scandals, and even a name change. Remember Wired Live?

Tuesday on Facebook the club said goodbye to Houston, signing off just a few years shy of a decade. It was a fun venue when it was being run correctly and there was star power onstage, but once the familiar faces left with a bad taste in their mouths, it wasn't such a great place to see a show, no matter who the artist was.

The Rocks Off team was at most every big show the Meridian offered up for the past four years, whether in the capacity of a fan or a critic. The shows were excellent, most of the time, and the pours were always tall and strong at the bars. Damn you, D'Neta, you made us another double Jack & Coke.

This Rocks Off cat had been visiting the Meridian long before we started writing live reviews. We remember taking the little brother to see Lars Frederiksen & the Bastards while we were still ailing from a hernia surgery. We sat enthralled watching TV on the Radio on their Return To Cookie Mountain tour, when we felt the floor would cave in from dancing. Seeing one of the first Kings Of Leon appearances in Houston was a special moment too.

It was in September 2006, and the band had just put out their second LP, Aha Shake Heartbreak. This was two years from "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" and nearly selling out the Toyota Center. Caleb Followill was sick that night and could barely get through the show without shots of honey and whiskey. That night they played early stabs at songs from the next year's Because of the Times, which was arguably their breakthrough album, at least in the FM radio world.

Going through all these old blogs covering events and concerts at the Meridian, we realized how much Rocks Off the blog has grown, and we guess to an extension, this member of Rocks Off has grown as a writer. In the early shows the writer took the pictures, until we built up enough steam to hire a photog team.

This club, however sad and odd its ending was, brought a lot of people joy, from the Red Room to the main room, to the smoking pit to the helpful bartenders and staff. - Craig Hlavaty

Valient Thorr, August 6, 2007: "With beards of fury and manic stage dances, it's very possible that Valient Thorr is the closest we will ever get to re-create the energy of those prime late-'60s MC5 shows. For offspring of the '90s weaned on flash and gloom, to see a band with a plain-brown-bag conviction to rock must be life-changing." C.H.

Big Business & The Melvins, October 16, 2007: "There is no steady martial groove in BB's sound. When you do find a place you can dig in at, they jet off to another plateau. It's like tantric metal." C.H.

Bret Michaels' Rock of Love Tour, March 29, 2008: "Predictably the audience was a motley crew (bad pun intended) of pop culture gawkers and aged former hair metal battle horses: ladies who may have been backstage the first time Poison hit town, now making calls, in between Jager Bombs with the girls, to the sitter to make sure the kids were in bed; dudes with luxurious manes that rivaled those in the equine family." C.H.

Mike Ness & Jesse Dayton, May 5, 2008: Ness' hard-luck characters took an unplanned back seat Tuesday to-the-all too real predicament of opener Jesse Dayton. En route from Dallas, Dayton's tour bus was pulled over in Magnolia County for the stereotypical broken taillight; the subsequent search turned up a certain illegal substance in the singer's backpack that, he said later, had been there "since I don't know when." - Chris Gray

Ace Frehley, May 12, 2008: "'Snowblind,' it's safe to assume, is not about a winter weather advisory, while the ritual of 'Baby Likes to Rock It' involves the subject going down on her knees, because she likes to please." C.G.

Peter Murphy, July 10, 2008: "The rest of the set was dominated by snaky, sexual rock similar to the Cramps, Stooges or Gun Club that also flirted with metal in patches. This sound hit its zenith on Murphy's 1990 hit "Cuts You Up," which wouldn't have sounded out of place in a strip club." C.G.

King's X, August 19, 2008: "King's X put on a clinic in sleek, soulful Texas hard rock. [dUg] Pinnick's bass was very much the lead instrument, negotiating the distance between the complicated vocal harmonies and searing chainsaw riffs with a low-to-the-ground, almost nonchalant assurance. C.G.

Drive-By Truckers, September 24, 2008; "Band and crowd alike were lurching and swaggering through the barbecue rock and roll (lit in red and purple) of Hood's 'Hell No, I Ain't Happy,' which added a touch of Ziggy Stardust to the band's fierce Muscle Shoals soul. 'Ronnie and Neil' was next, which drew an 8.5 on Aftermath's patented 'Power Rock Index.'" C.G.

Black Keys, September 30, 2008: "The Keys are a prime example of an all-too-common problem plaguing music these days: People are much more interested in developing a "sound" than they are in writing songs. Luckily, they're one of the select few who can make it work, for the simple reason that Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach's industrial-strength guitar/drum duets thrive on simplicity." C.G.

Butthole Surfers, October 23, 2008: "I can't speak for the band, but frontman Gibby Haynes was either on something unknown to even Central American shamen or, well, just being Gibby Haynes. It took an hour before I understood a single lyric that came out of his mouth." C.G.

Madonna Pre-Party, November 15, 2008: "I do respect fandom at any and all levels. And anyone who is willing to pay 30 bucks to go hang out with other fans just like them, keeping in mind that that very artist is not there, is awe-inspiring to me. The guys in my Hoobastank fan club wouldn't even chip in a few bucks for case of Natural Light." C.H.

Eagles Of Death Metal, November 25, 2008: "EODM came onstage leading with their hips, slinging guitars like Vikings celebrating a battle. Lead singer Jesse "The Devil" Hughes looks like every man with a girlfriend's worst nightmare, wielding a decadently-coiffed moustache and poured into a pair of women's Levis ready to slip off rings and whisper unthinkable things." C.H.

The Pretty Things Peepshow, February 2009: "Half-naked womens." C.H.

Hank III, February 17, 2009: "Meridian's smoking area already looked like a MASH unit, with people passed out against the wall and others on the brink. Every available surface, including the floor, was littered with empties. How Aftermath made it through without joining them, we'll never know." C.G.

Pete Yorn, July 14, 2009: "Pete Yorn has been and will always be "sad bastard music" to Aftermath's ears. One thing that has always interested us about the forlorn tunes that seem to drip from Yorn's fingers is how big of a female audience he has." C.H.

Lucero, November 9, 2009: "The show was supposed to be a full two-hour affair, but a few kids from the band's new, younger demographic, i.e., "douchebag children who think they can treat bassist John Stubblefield like an asshole," got into a tussle with the musician and Meridian's stage manager cut the show off at 1 a.m." C.H.

Booker T, March 27, 2010 : "His voice may lack the range of [Otis] Redding or Sam Moore, but it was full-bodied and more than up to the task. "Ain't No Sunshine," which he produced for his friend Bill Withers, brought a collective swoon from the crowd and some very dirty dancing from one party in the back of the room." C.G.

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