UPDATED (Tuesday, 2:15 p.m.) to clarify some information about the Jay Reatard documentary.
There's a place in Houston where bands go to get their feet wet, and believe it or not, we're not talking about Walters, Fitzgerald's, or Rudyard's.
While it's undeniable that those landmark venues do amazing things for local acts, it's hard to ignore what Houston House of Creeps has done for Houston's music community since it started in 2010.
Known for hosting killer shows a few nights a month, House of Creeps is distinct in the fact that it's foremost a residence.
"We want to promote local and do-it-yourself bands that fly under the radar and need a great audience," says Jacob Warny, who currently lives at House of Creeps.
Warny, a member of Houston post-punk rockers Square and Compass, was working the door at last Friday's show. The bill included Austin's Belaire, as well as Houston's Deep Cuts and New York City Queens.
"These are our fellow Houstonians, so we want people to come out and have a good time," Warny stated.
Of course, that's not an issue when the house rules are that "anything goes."
On nights when there's a show, it's guaranteed that there will be a crowd gathered outside the warehouse with a Starry Night façade, which is conveniently located smack dab between 713 Studio and Last Concert Café.
But House of Creeps wasn't always tucked behind the shadows of downtown. The original House of Creeps was a two-story shack isolated in south Houston, conceived by Scott Doyle (O'Doyle Rules) and former housemate Russell, who are self-proclaimed "professional creeps." According to Doyle, the two came up with the idea (and name) after traveling across Europe for two months during the summer of 2009 and "expanding on creepiness."
"I think we scared the people at our old house, but I don't think anyone has lived in that house longer than we did" says Doyle. "It was haunted by a ghost named Gary, whose favorite song was 'Puttin' on the Ritz.' He loved and protected us; we miss him."
After their eviction, Doyle found the warehouse they currently occupy on Craigslist.
The venue (if it can be called that) is refreshing. Despite a $5 cover at the door, the vibe is that of a house party, without the snobby backlash of worrying that you have to be invited.
And aside from "assholes," anyone is welcome at House of Creeps. Visitors are free to walk in and out of the warehouse apartment during the sets, and debauchery almost feels encouraged.
"This is my second time here, and I love it," says Ulrich Von Dran, a guest Friday night. "People come here to have fun. I mean, there's a hot tub in the kitchen! They're like white hustlers."
Despite the hot tub, the evening always revolves around the bands, which play in a living room area atop tiger-print carpet. There are no formalities. "House of Creeps" is spray-painted neon orange on the wall, and bands control their own light and sound. But though it's a DIY mentality, House of Creeps provides all the equipment needed to put on a good show.
The venue hosts a variety of local bands, from Featherface to American Fangs, as well as touring acts such as Owen and, recently, The Appleseed Cast.
"We used to have a lot more hardcore and punk shows, but we can't anymore," says Doyle. "[Our neighbor] The Ballistics Skate House has more room and can handle the destruction. Our landlord, Wayne, is awesome for putting up with us; he's repaired so many holes in the walls."
Recently, House of Creeps partnered with Ballistics, Ponde Rosa and J.D.'s Bar to host Creeperfest -- a one-day street festival included home-brewing classes, performances by Houston's best local acts, and a premiere screening of a documentary on the late Jay Reatard, Better than Something, that uses some footage Doyle shot for his Web site, Too Bored.
The guys behind House of Creeps -- which currently consists of Doyle, Warny, Tucker O'Bannon (who recently took the "crawfish pho challenge" at LA Crawfish), Gardy and Zach (whose Mom owns nearby Walters) -- would love their own club someday, but they're fine doing it the old-fashioned way for now. With beer donations from St. Arnold, they can afford to cover the overhead cost of hosting events and still pay the bands at the end of the night.
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"[We're just trying to] do something people usually don't do, and have a good time doing it," says Doyle. "Everything ends, so why be boring while you're here?"