Bayou City

Music Scene Mourns the Loss of Superfan Paige Balinski

As multiple Houston news sources reported last week, Paige Balinski was bicycling to her Crosby-area home in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 4 when she was struck and killed by a motor vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, believed to be a white Jeep Cherokee authorities have seized, fled the scene and remains at large as of this writing. Anyone with information leading to that person is urged to contact the Harris County Sheriff’s office.

According to friends, Balinski planned to spend that Saturday night the way she’d spent many others, by attending a live-music event in Houston. I can report this with some degree of confidence since Paige was a supportive friend of my son’s band. She was supposed to be at the group’s tour kickoff show that night with dozens of acquaintances she’s made from the Houston music scene. Instead, those people flooded Facebook with condolences for Balinski’s family and loved ones.

The television news presents the facts in a tragedy such as this. In the days following the hit-and-run, Houstonians  became familiar with Balinski’s face and the terrible incident that took her life. What they may not know is the 23-year old was a devoted supporter of local music, just one of the many other things she was besides an image in a 20-second news blurb. Parents lost a daughter and friends lost a cherished confidante. I met Paige a time or two and she was a vivacious person. She bundled up massive energy in a small frame and shared it with those who joined her to enjoy the gift of music.

People who knew Balinski better than I can tell you more about her in the paragraphs to follow. Her passing does give us some insight into some noteworthy matters. Foremost, Balinski was giving and thoughtful enough to become an organ donor. She remained on life support as the critical work associated with donorship unfolded. According to Donate Life America, more than 120,000 Americans await donor transplants and daily 22 patients die awaiting donations. Follow this link to the national organ donor registry for more information.

Concerning music, every act from superstars to budding locals, owes a debt to someone like Balinski. Routinely, she showed up, liked what she heard, told her friends, and kept coming back. She transitioned from music fan to honored friend for many. As a fan, she validated others’ dreams, which is a kind act. No band ever grows without people like Paige behind them. It feels right to express just how much these bands appreciated that from her, and how much I did, as father of a working musician in one of those bands. It’s little or no solace to her loved ones today, I’m sure, but maybe someday they’ll treasure one of the gifts she gave to others, the encouragement and friendship she offered to Houston’s musicians.

Paige was one of those people that no matter what, she'd always be down to go out to see live music in Houston. I, being the lover of music I am, would always ask all of my friends to go to shows, and none of them were ever down as much as Paige was. She loved the music for what it was and always supported the scene with all of her heart. I know this because we'd spend countless hours just driving around listening to various Houston artists before the shows we would attend. We knew every lyric to our favorite bands and would always be front and center when they played. Nothing else in the world matters when you are watching musical artists live that you love, and she understood that to the fullest. I'll always be grateful to have met a friend that I shared that with. RIP, Paige.

Paige was a good friend, she supported me and Eastdown Warehouse since our early days of being open, back when a lot of people didn't believe in the venue. She came out and supported me and told her friends about the venue, which meant a lot to me. She was a regular for a while. She was always at every ska/punk show, and she sure did make her presence known when in the venue. She would get in the pit all night and just be free and have a blast; she was that girl in the mosh pit all night. I remember on Halloween night when she won the costume contest for DJ Simmerdown's Halloween Bash. I have a lot of great memories of Paige at Eastdown and she was a friend outside the music scene, too. The ska/punk scene is how we met, but our friendship grew outside of our scene.

We at Eastdown and the whole ska/punk community were saddened when we found out Saturday evening, before the Days N Daze show she was looking forward to attending. I told her I was gonna put her on the guest list to the show, because I always put her on the guest list when she came to Eastdown. Even though I knew she wasn't gonna come to the show, because of what happened to her, I still put her name on the guest list, because it was my way of saying she will not be forgotten in our scene and at Eastdown. She will live on in our hearts.

Paige was the type of person who never missed an opportunity to experience something exciting, new, or challenging. She never took a moment for granted and always did whatever made her happy. Without any doubt she has lived more of a life than most people ever will. She was unstoppable, fearless, full of love and positive energy — truly the best kind of person to have by your side. The world has lost one of its brightest beings.

Paige was such an amazing and fun person to be around. I'm happy that we were able to share so many awesome experiences with her through our music. She had become more than a supporter of the band, she became a homie and will always be a part of a particular era in the band's history. So many great memories with our friend Paige. Gone way too soon, she will definitely be missed by many.

Paige, what can we say? She was definitely a beacon of light in the Houston music scene. If she loved your band, she would show it. Always there to support the music that made her move, dance, and feel alive. Sunshine and good vibes were always sure to follow her. She was an inspiration to FUSKA as much as we were to her. So sad to see her gone. Much love, ‘Ragin’ Paige.'

Paige was, without a doubt, a huge constant in me and my bands’ lives. No matter what show it was, whether we played or not, she was always there. If she did end up missing one she would never hesitate to call and say she would be there next time. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Paige three years ago and we became instant friends. She was wild, so incredibly kind and supported the people she loved with no end. Through some of my toughest moments she was there. She spread her infectious smile to everyone she met and loved the Houston music scene like her family, and we loved her right back. I can't say I don't see her from the corner of my eye every show I go to. She was a person that mattered and someone I will forever hold close to my heart.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.