Never Mind SXSW, Says Promoting Machine Eric Dean

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To say that Eric Dean is having a busy week is putting it mildly. Such is the life of a promoter, especially with the influx of touring artists that hit Houston in March due to SXSW.

Dean's calendar is packed with music at the moment, including a free punk show at Mango's tonight as well as assisting with the Crème De La Crème shindig at House of Blues, which is free with RSVP. Monday, Young Empires headlines another free show at Mango's.

On top of that, Dean is fueling his penchant for large shows like the sprawling Main Street Block Party that was a big hit in January by involving himself in more. There's "The Future In Stereo" at Stereo Live Thursday, and he also collaborated with Jason Smith to put together the Spring Forward Music Festival at Groundhall Saturday.

Then comes the Japanther show on Wednesday, which has spiraled into a three-stage event at Mango's and AvantGarden. "That turned into like a mini block party, which is crazy," says Dean.

"It's fun, I'm into it," he adds with an audible grin. "I think there's room in Houston to do more festivals, more fun stuff, because there's people that want to come out all day to hang out."

In addition to keeping things fun, Dean knows the power of making them affordable. Several of his shows this week are free with an advance RSVP, and only $8 without it. Both The Future In Stereo and Spring Forward have $10 pre-sale tickets (or $12 and $15 at the door, respectively), and abundant drink specials.

Stereo Live's been looking to break into the indie-rock and hip-hop scene for a bit. Rocks Off spoke with the owners on the phone a while back, and they raved about the three-stage complex with full audio and lighting rigs.

"They're kinda gonna be made for big events, fun events," hypothesizes Dean, adding "they have a beautiful stage."

He also explains that the venue has been pigeonholed into the DJ set, partly due to the location's legacy (6400 Club and many others) and partially because, Dean says, it's "one of those things where they've just been sticking to what they know, but they want a little bit of everything, and I think they're really sincere about it."

The Future In Stereo features a few regional acts from Austin, including Zeale and Main Street alumni The Black & White Years. Dean compares Zeale to Fat Tony - "these guys don't do by-the-book hip-hop" - and raves about The Black & White Years.

"Talking Heads, Devo, upbeat type stuff that's Cars-y," he says. "It's really crazy and good." Local acts include Fat Tony, Hollywood FLOSS, Glasnost, The Live Lights, Gatlin Elms, The Manichean, Satin Hooks, Young Girls and iLL Liad, as well as a host of DJs.

Saturday's Spring Forward festival is the brainchild of Rocket Jet Productions Jason Smith (also in rock act Alkari), and Dean hopped in to help round out the bill.

"I helped diversify it a little bit, pulled a few bands," he explains. The day-long event at Groundhall - the rechristened Engine Room - and adjacent Echo Lounge (formerly Jet Lounge) starts at 2 p.m., with three stages of music and three dozen acts including Austin headliners What Made Milwaukee Famous and Tacks, The Boy Disaster, plus thundersome Deer Park-ers The Gold Sounds, just to name a few.

Next Wednesday's event at Westheimer and Taft, presented by Dean and Hater magazine, has been titled M O I S T. Japanther headlines the evening at Mango's, where an additional outdoor stage will provide a dance-party atmosphere. Next door at AvantGarden, post-hardcore quartet Square And Compass tops another set of bands. Again, this show is free with an RSVP, and entry gains concert-goers access to all three stages.

Explaining his impetus for running show after show, Dean decares that his focus is to bring a good time to all.

"I think there's a lot of people during this South-by time that get left out," he explains. "They want to see bands, but they don't want to drive all the way to Austin. Sometimes they have these things called jobs."

Dean is perfectly content to pick up the slack while several promoters head west to network, host shows, get drunk or whatever.

"We will rage in Houston while they do their thing in Austin," Dean says. "And why not?"

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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