My family and I have been Houston Texans season ticketholders since Game 1, that celebrated and gratifying franchise opener (Texans 19, Cowboys 10), and we've always taken seriously our tailgating privileges.
Texans fans tailgate better than most, including the North Texas delusionals who do it up there at Jerry's World. We've repeatedly been honored as the NFL's best tailgating experience. I've spoken with visiting fans from all over the country who would agree; we throw an incredible block party where everyone who enjoys football is a welcomed neighbor.
At our own tailgate, we've got one head chef: my brother, Anthony. He creates the menus and then cooks up the good stuff. My youngest brother, Adrian, is our beer steward. He'll pair the cuisine with an elegant Belgian ale or just break out the Tecate for mass quaffing.
That leaves the music to me.
Sadly, music is the one area of the Texans tailgate experience that is commonly neglected. Year after year, the same stuff gets trotted out, more tired than Arian Foster after his next brilliant touchdown run. If we're going to shake off the rust like Andre Johnson shakes off foolish defenders, let's start by looking at the songs we're celebrating with on Sundays.
In the spirit of all things tailgating, here's a "This, Not That"-styled list for foods, drinks and especially music to try this season. We post up at Blue Lot Section 21 -- stop by anytime.
This: "Haunt You," The Pack a.d. Not That: "You Shook Me All Night Long," AC/DC Brian Johnson began wailing "You Shook Me" more than 20 years before the Texans even became a franchise. So I've had to hear someone playing this song at tailgates since the team's inception. I do not want to hear it again.
My choice for a newer rocker with a good hook is The Pack a.d.'s "Haunt You." For one, a lot of people have heard it on a television commercial for something I never pay attention to; and, the subtext is someone will be haunted, the way J.J. Watt plans to spook visiting QBs this season.
Brisket and Dogfish Head are perennial big rockers on the menu, but this year, give a local IPA a chance to win you over. Karbach Hopadillo paired with a sturdy slab of dry-rubbed ribs is a good start.
This: Anything by Houston Singing Phenom Danielle Bradbery Not That: "Boot Scootin' Boogie," Brooks & Dunn
Our team lines 'em up in Houston, so you're going to hear country music while waiting in long lines at the portapotties or marching into the stadium. But, the next time I hear/see "Boot Scootin' Boogie" and its associated dance, I'm going to plow through those dance lines like Ben Tate needing two yards for the first down.
If you don't know who Bradbery is you must not watch Bradbery-obsessed Channel 2 news or be aware of the NBC reality show The Voice. She's a 16-year-old contestant from right here in Houston who has advanced to the final stages of the show. Say what you will about her coach, who's got more beef with some local music writers than an Oklahoma cattle ranch, the guy picked a winner here.
Bradbery has an incredibly pure voice, put there by DNA for whatever lucky reason. She accepts advice from her coaches politely (she is from Houston, after all), but she doesn't need it. Aside from being born with talent, she's shown from the first show she knows how to skillfully use it. If she isn't bringing CMAs home by the wheelbarrow soon, it'll be a surprise bigger than the Jags winning one against the Texans this year.
Out with the old jalapeno poppers and Mexican beer, say my brothers. Make room for the new and tasty stuff, saison ales and anything -- boudin, mac and cheese, eggplant -- that can be Panko-breaded and fried into a ball.