Walking up to Fitzgerald’s Saturday evening, attendees were greeted with lines stretching all the way from the front door to what felt like Loop 610 and from the will-call window past the load-in parking lot. Throngs of local music fans had come out for Pegstar Concerts' final show at the iconic Houston venue after a five-year run, and the excitement was palpable.
Saturday night marked the end of an era. Though Fitzgerald’s is only changing hands and Pegstar will continue to book acts at other venues around town as its White Oak Music Hall is being constructed, the evening remained bittersweet as locals bid a fond farewell to the guys who revitalized one of the oldest live-music venues in town.
It also happened to be my last weekend living in the Heights, but we’ll get back to that later.
The night’s entertainment was staggered to resemble a music festival. Kult Dizney began their set upstairs at 7 p.m., followed by a performance downstairs by Dune TX at 7:30. Our plans be damned, Pegstar made sure that all of us in attendance got enough cardio throughout the evening to work off at least a few of those beers.
Houston/Austin duo Night Drive whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their Bowie-esque Britpop early on. Vocalist Rodney Connell leapt into the crowd halfway through the band’s set, enticing fans to jump and dance along with him as the ground shook below our feet. It was Night Drive's first time performing upstairs at Fitzgerald’s, and they made the most of it.
Bang Bangz and Young Mammals performed downstairs, where all the warm bodies turned the place into a sauna filled will great tunes with impotent fans wobbling overhead. It somehow felt hottest in the corners downstairs, but no one complained. Spirits were high, and it seemed as though nothing could change that.
The Wild Moccasins’ bubbly indie-rock remained a fan favorite late into the evening, preceding a heartfelt speech from Pegstar founder Jagi Katial expressing gratitude for everyone involved with Fitz’s success, including the fans who attended so many shows.
From beginning to end, Saturday night was fitting sendoff for Pegstar, which included a surprise performance from Robert Ellis before Buxton capped off the night as the Talking Heads.
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In July 2010, Houston Press Music published an article in which we interviewed a few local musicians who were apprehensive about the impending transformation of Fitzgerald’s. And while the venue did undergo major alterations, nearly all of them were positive, beneficial to the local music scene and the neighborhood alike.
Personally, I moved into the neighborhood in July 2012. My house was just four blocks away from Fitz, so I began to frequent the venue even more regularly. And so it felt poetic that during my last Saturday in the Heights, I walked out my front door and down the street to Fitzgerald’s for the last time.
But just like Pegstar, it’s not like I won’t be around. Sometimes, circumstances bring about change, and those changes can bring about even better things. So rather than bemoan what is lost, I’d prefer to remember the good times and look forward to the next adventure.
Pegstar likely feels the same.