On the Road

Rocks Off Checks Out Corpus Christi

This past weekend, Rocks Off took a respite from sweltering H-Town to visit family in our equallly sweltering, ball-sweat-inducing neighbor to the south. Corpus Christi is rather small compared the teeming ant farm we have here, topping just over a quarter of a million beachified and sunburned folks. Rocks Off has been coming to "The Sparkling City by the Sea" to visit his grandparents and burn layers off his skin since he was born.

Over the past decade or so, Corpus has grown into one hell of a rock and roll town. Turnout for live music is massive across all genres and booze is cheap. The city has a good dozen tattoo shops that are nationally acclaimed for their artwork, with appointments hard to come by. It's actually quite a metal town, with Motorhead and Pantera stickers on the back of cars almost as ubiquitous as McCain/Palin tags are in Houston's suburbs.

Plus, any town this close to a beach is sure to invite debauchery on the scale of an '80s sex comedy.

The city boasts two amazing record stores located in disparate parts of the city. Disc Go Round sports a ridiculous amount of punk rock and heavy-metal vinyl. We spent a good hour sifting through Circle Jerks and obscure Black Flag bootlegs, not to mention the treasure trove of Iron Maiden wax that seemed to be taunting us to take it home. The store has been stocking new and used vinyl since early 2008, when it hosted Corpus' first installment of the national Record Store Day.

The store carries an item imported from Japan called a Sound Wagon, a small toy VW bus with a needle on the bottom and a speaker inside. When it's placed onto a vinyl record, it actually plays what's in the grooves. When we saw it in action on Saturday, we felt a hot nerd rush flow over us.

DGR hosts live music inside the store from local and touring bands, along with beer and alcohol refreshments. According to an employee we spoke with on Saturday, the recent in-store set by reggae-punkers Supervillains went way too well and the band and audience got almost too drunk to make their show later that night.

Across town, Texas country and roots-rock is alive and well at Surf Club Records. The store is attached to the Executive Surf Club, which routinely books acts such as Bob Schneider and Max Stalling. Stocking pretty every artist that has graced the ears of discerning Texas music fanatics, the store also is home to a small surf museum.

The South Texas Music Walk of Fame right outside the store is not to be missed, with Doug Sahm, Zakary Thaks and local legend Freddy Fender holding down stars on the sidewalks surrounding the club. Just this year, Corpus native Jim Heath, aka the Rev. Horton Heat, received his own star.

Corpus also has its own alternative newspaper, The Vent, published twice a month. The content swings more towards a dumbed-down version of The Onion (sample headline: "Local Lawn's Health Downgraded"), with record and scene reviews scattered throughout. The paper is indispensable when it comes to local music listings, covering shows from the House of Rock and Revolution.

The bi-weekly paper has major competition from thecrushgirls.com, an entertainment Web site whose stated goal is "to promote a positive attitude towards Corpus Christi" and with a rotating group of bikini-clad female street team members, that's probably not been a problem.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty