By Ramon LP4
I know it’s bad form to toot your own horn but I think it’s a matter of empirical fact that our 8th anniversary party on Saturday night was the place you wanted to be and we delivered in spades! The place was packed (but not uncomfortably so) and people were having a great time. Diversity is what’s great about Houston so it’s wonderful to see a show that reflects that diversity. Sure, nobody is going to like everything they hear but the Fitzgerald’s architecture is perfect for a show like this. Check out one band upstairs. If you don’t like it, then go check out the one downstairs. If you can’t stomach either, just go to the back patio or the upstairs balcony and wait for one you do like. You get exposed to new stuff and you aren’t confined to one room. In short, those Polish folks knew how to build a dance hall back in the day.
My night started out late as I missed a good number of bands and just missed out on B L A C K I E’s performance but I was told repeatedly how B L A C K I E killed. My response? “When doesn’t he kill?” Roky Moon and Bolt were first on the menu and I have to say that, if all you’ve heard is the CD, you really haven’t fully experienced what this band can deliver. The ensemble this time had grown to include back-up singers and a saxophone and the band sounded as lush and full as a vintage Queen LP. Honestly, given the band’s penchant for smart compositions and arrangements, I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept growing into a full orchestra. Fun, energetic, and musically intelligent – they are simply everything that is good about rock and roll. And speaking of intelligence, Fat Tony was performing downstairs. Downstairs? Really? That’s criminal because Fat Tony drops some of the drollest rhymes you will hear and pairs it with a live performance that leaves no doubt where the party is. Party or not, this was one of those shows where if you stayed in one place, you’d miss out on something else. So I left Fat Tony and his crowd hoppin’ and ran upstairs to catch Propain who was just killing upstairs. The crowd was dancing and singing along and right about here is where it hit me how good the sound was. I mean how many hip-hop shows do you go to where you can’t make out what the rapper is saying? (Hello House of Blues – I’m looking at you!) Seriously, three cheers for the soundman and the 1918 architects because the room sounded great – full and clear. Meanwhile, back downstairs, Giant Princess was making the crowd jump up and dance no less than anyone else – the new material was great and kudos on the addition of the backing vocals.
When I went back up for Grandfather Child’s set, I heard one big dude who wasn’t thrilled by the trains not running on time say “Fuck this rock and roll shit, where’s Bun B!” I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not but it was 12:30am (the original time slot for Bun B to take the stage) but, to me, being an hour behind schedule is par for the course and so I didn’t think about this until a bit later in Grandfather Child’s set. Grandfather Child started out with some sweet soul laced with falsetto vocals that pretty much said “Don’t forget to thank us for getting you laid tonight.” Seriously, you can’t half-ass vocals like that. If you don’t feel it from your heart, you may as well just not even show up but Grandfather Child owned it. The rest of the set just took genres from rock, to folk, to blues, to gospel, to R & B and just turned Fitzgerald’s into a tent revival. A few people didn’t care much for it though. They were here to see Bun B and a small group led a chant of “Bun B! Bun B!” near the end of Grandfather Child’s set. Now presented with this you have a few options and I have to say band leader Lucas Gorham, played it pitch-perfect. They played two more songs then before they launched into their last song he addressed the haters, “Haters gonna hate, lovers gonna love. If you don’t like it…then eat dick!” The band then launched into rousing loud “fuck you” of a closer that caused all the haters’ balls to exit their respective ball sacs and leave their owners to wallow in their shame. Well played, Lucas!
Last up was Bun B and the second he took the stage there was a crush of human bodies, hands reaching out, and such a racket of screams and hollers that you’d have thought some messiah had appeared from heaven. But Bun B played it cool. It’s kind of curious to see a rapper of his caliber and fame, play with so much humility. Not that he doesn’t command the room (he does) but there is graciousness in his style that is so unique and perhaps that’s because he knows he owes so much to his late partner Pimp C, but it also shows someone who is comfortable with their art, their city, and with their fans. There may have been a few hundred people there but Bun B turned it into an intimate house party and what better way to celebrate 8 years than with a college professor whooping it up with his students.