Eight months ago Rocks Off ran a profile of promoter Mike Kelley, whose OnStage Events company seemed to be bringing about a renaissance for Numbers night club that we could not contain our excitement over. Kelley was behind the long-needed renovation of the Numbers live sound system, something that was put to great use when Kelley brought in Peter Murphy and the Clan of Xymox in to play for big crowds and critical acclaim (We know, we're the critic who did the acclaiming).
Kelley and the club seemed to be on the rise, but just as soon as it started the good news coming out of OnStage slowed to a drip, then a full stop, and rumors about bookings at Numbers began to swirl.
"Mike Kelley has left a trail of failed shows and broken contracts with acts and instead of helping Houston has created more issues for this already struggling city," said a patron of Numbers who wished to remain anonymous. "A lot of people did not realize it was not Numbers fault as to what happened. The club was just the host venue for Mike Kelley and Onstage, not the actual booking agent or promoter."
Several shows booked by Kelley were cancelled, such as Flock of Seagulls and Three Six Mafia. Kelley contends that the bands themselves were usually the parties behind the cancellations, citing routing problems as a common concern. Eventually, the running of OnStage became impossible, with Kelley claiming to have lost over $100,000.
"Basically, it just cost too much," said Kelley in a phone interview on October 27. "We couldn't afford to do the shows. People were just not coming out. Peter Murphy and Clan of Xymox did well, but they were the only ones."
Kelley moved on to working directly for the Flamingo Room booking shows. He left that position a month ago, though he continued to manage the bookings he had already made. The difficult location made generating attendance at concerts problematic. In addition, a fire marshal reduced the capacity of the Flamingo Room to just 50 patrons, clearing out any hope of being able to accommodate a big audience. Phone calls to the owners of the Flamingo Room about what exactly happened have gone unreturned.
The problems at the Flamingo Room would be passed along to another club. Kelley had already sold a number tickets for Dilana, a South African born singer-songwriter with Houston connections who currently fronts Traci Guns' incarnation of L.A. Guns. Dilana had already purchased plane tickets when word about the fire marshal's ruling came down. Desperate, Kelley canvassed Houston looking for a place to move the show during the busy Halloween weekend. He managed to strike a deal with BFE.
"We all turned away many Halloween shows (our busiest season) to do this show with out of town guests and all and three days before we are set to go on, they cancel to make way for a national act," said Larry Fenix, guitarist for Mike Terror.
According to Khana of Brutal Promotions, who was promoting the show, the event had been scheduled and advertised for three months prior to the cancellation. She claims Aluotto offered her $300 in compensation for the show, an offer she refused. The show has since been moved to Super Happy Fun Land, but upset fans left dozens of angry posts on the BFE Facebook over the treatment of the bands. An email to Aluotto has so far received no response, but a post on their Facebook from October 26 reads...
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"We made a decision to cancel the show based solely from a business standpoint and do understand that many people are and will be unhappy with our decision."
As for Mike Kelley, who Rocks Off touted as the best thing to happen to Houston booking and Numbers for quite some time, he's getting out of the music business. Currently he is seeking work in publishing, and taking care of his new daughter who has had four heart surgeries since she was born earlier this summer.
"I don't hold any grudge against the people at Numbers," he said. "They always treated me well."
Kelley has sold his sound system to acclaimed musician, sound man, and producer Steve Bundrick, who will continue to use it as the house system at Numbers.