March 2nd, 2010
House of Blues: Party With the People
In 6 Words: Live, General, Wailers, Exclusive, Pavilions, Foundation
With a palpable hankering to see a live show, I stumbled upon a pair of free tickets to see The Wailers at the House of Blues on a Saturday night in January. Being a fan of both Reggae and the HOB venue, I opted to check out Bob Marley’s band over locals The Ton Tons, who were playing at Walter’s on Washington. Tough decision (those kids are really good), but I was not disappointed, as my gratis tickets granted admission into the exclusive, members-only Foundation Room, which I’ve been hearing about through various people.
Directed to the side door entrance on Dallas Street, we walked into the Foundation Room vestibule, cleared the guest list, traveled up the elevator and walked through the ornate, dark, wooden and blue lighted hallway, only to clear yet another guest list. After what felt like a Wonderland rabbit hole experience, we finally made our way into the Foundation Room and were immediately presented with a plethora of things to do: explore the room, get a drink at the bar, watch the game (it’s the Cowboys…sigh), mingle with the members, or check out the concert.
Surveying the posh lounge decorated with “hand embroidered Gurjarat wall coverings,” plush couches, Indian statuettes, a big screen and scattered flat panel televisions, our eyes sought out the most important feature: a stately-looking bar. Not really comprehending the link between The Blues and the Indian-inspired vibe of this place, I make my way over to the bar to order a drink. I’ve come to expect high priced cocktails at music venues, and the Foundation Room holds true to this tenet. As I sip my drink at the bar, the attitude is relaxed enough that I can chat with the bartender and a few of the clubs “regular” members. Tonight we aren’t blessed with one of the supposed perks. There were no star sightings, but the VIP experience was fun, in and of itself.
After finishing our drinks , we decide, “What the heck, let’s mix it up with the general admission folks.” (Can you hear the VIP snobbery taking hold already?) For as much as I love the idea of being one of the elitist at The Wailers’ show, I can’t bring myself to accept it. If there’s something I’ve come to know and love, it’s a general admission crowd at a live show. I love the miscellaneous assortment of music enthusiasts; all walks of life connected by their appreciation for live music. You can even make the case that they are the heart of the music.
At a capacity of about 1500, the House of Blues is a great venue to see a show from the floor. It is more intimate than the Verizon Wireless at Bayou Place, which holds about 3500, or the archaic Reliant Arena, and it attracts biggeracts than the comparably-sized Warehouse Live, just a mile away. Recently, acts like B.B. King, TV on the Radio, Andrew Bird, and the Black Crowes, who may have previously skipped H-town, have rolled through just because of HOB and LiveNation. The Houston venue offers opportunities to see Texas regulars like Willie Nelson, Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Earl Keen or Bob Schneider. It’s also a great place to catch “up-and-coming” acts like Raphael Saadiq or The Arctic Monkeys; or older, continually touring acts like Better than Ezra or Cowboy Mouth.
The general admission floor is surrounded by three bars, so you never have to wait long for libations…or nachos – if you are so inclined. There is a raised section in the center back of the floor with a few tables for the early comers to socialize. The floor layout actually makes for easy maneuvering during and between sets, whether you want to view the stage from different angles throughout the show or just check out the crowd. The venue also has “theatre-style” reserved seats and VIP boxes located just above the floor, which lookout onto to the stage.
Adorned with folk art on the walls and decor that fits with the blues motif, the venue is more visually appealing than the storage-facility experience of Verizon or Reliant. Combining great lighting and stunning acoustics, House of Blues is more like a cool bar with a great live music than a conventional concert venue.
Citizen Cope – 3/13/2010
Flogging Molly – 3/17/2010 (talk about a fun St. Patty’s day)
KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox Troubadour Tuesdays – 2nd Tuesday of every month
Gospel Brunch – Every Sunday
Hints and Tips:
- The Foundation Room may be members only in the evenings, but you can enjoy VIP dining and $1 martinis weekdays during lunch. Monday – Friday: 11am to 2pm
- Join the Houston Pavilions 100 days of Escapades mailing list to get updates and opportunities for free tickets.
- Sign up for Live Nation email updates and get notifications of promotions and sales, like No Service Fee Wednesdays, BOGO or 4-packs.
Where – 1204 Caroline Street, Houston, TX 77002 (View Map)
What – Live music venue and bar, restaurant and members club
How Much – Tickets vary by performer; typically range $30-$150
Who – Casual and serious music aficionados alike
When – Check out their concert calendar for show times and dates
Web – Homepage; Facebook Fan Page; Twitter