Fitzgerald’s Experience by Ross Campo

2706 White Oak
Houston, TX

January 2004–Fitzgerald’s is an exciting musical experience, with sights and sounds like no other. The ever changing colored lights flash across the many colored patrons while in the background echoes a great band playing some sweat-streaked fan’s favorite tune. Since this venue hosts a number of different musical styles, from death metal to punk rock, the dress, attitude and mindset of the crowd varies from event to event. It’s a mass of jeans and tee-shirts, leather and lace, from chic to trashy moving, dancing, whirling like the spin cycle of a washing machine. Located near downtown Houston at 2706 White Oak, it is very easy to find right off I-10. The neighborhood is a mixture of bars, head shops and ice-houses, definitely not for the faint of heart, but worth the risk because Fitzgerald’s is the home of a wonderful place to experience great live music. This opinion is shared by many a lover of music. ( need tickets? www.ticketmaster.com/

This place is very popular with people of all ages, from teenagers to adults. I’ve seen 17 year-olds dancing side by side with grandmothers. Like many other popular music clubs, it has a bar stocked with various types of domestic and foreign beers for the adults in the crowd. Beside the bar is what really makes an amazing and interesting attraction. Up the steps leading to the old rotting deck stained with white, faded paint, you come across the material that makes up the walls of the little house on White Oak. Night after night, as people wait impatiently in line, they have entertained themselves by writing their musings on the walls. Over the decades this impatient scratching has become a graffiti collage portraying the thoughts and options of patrons. There are many inscribings that are profane but most of them contain band names and the very popular so n so was here. While it might look trashy to some, it shouldn’t deter the serious music lover or the serious drinker. After a small distance you will pass through the set of white double doors barring the entrance to this musical heaven. Usually a large, overweight man forty or over asks you to confess what band you are interested in having the pleasure of hearing. Immediately after you reply, he explains the cost and sends you through the half rotten double doors to a dark hallway which contains three passages. To your left looms the cashier desk, the far right a black stair case points the way to the upstairs area, and directly in front of you lies a set of substantially better quality double-doors which is the entrance to the downstairs area. The upstairs and the downstairs both have a stage, a bar, and tables for the less energetic. First of all, the chunky security guy will explain, “You need to proceed to the cashier located to you immediate left.” Again, you must choose your band. The cashier will then quickly inform you of the cost of that particular band’s show for the evening, ask to see your ID or driver’s license, then send you on your way to either upstairs or downstairs. They must ask for your proof of age to determine if you are booze enabled or disabled. An ink stamp on the hand marks you with this distinction. After this simple, but necessary introduction, you are free to enjoy the club.

Fitzgerald’s downstairs is quite small but still seems to possess the ability to contain the bulky crowd that finds itself down there night after night. Here is located a well lit bar to the far right, a knee-high stage to the immediate left and directly in the middle a cluster of tables. Each of these tall tables has a glass ashtray with seating provided by barstools. This cluster of seating is not limited to this area in front of the stage, but also between it and the sound check and the bar location. Believe it or not, there is room remaining for a mosh-pit in front of the stage. If you are not familiar with this term, a mosh-pit is an open area in front of the stage where the more excitable and aggressive music lovers gather to violently throw each other around in a circular pattern as the band’s music moves to a heavier and louder timbre. This activity combined with the results of the well used ash trays opaques the air with a cloud of smoke, sweat, spit and sonic bliss. Finding your way is a purely tactile experience. Claustrophobics would run screaming out the door. But the natives effortlessly ignore the close quarters and lack of breathable air to move to their cars, deafened, energized and joyous. But, wait, this is not the complete Fitzgerald’s experience.

Upstairs, you will enter a very different world. It is larger, and therefore attracts more people. As you scan the room you see another set of stairs that leads to a balcony that overlooks the room offering a bird’s eye vantage point. Behind the main floor with its seating and tables, is a blue windowed door which leads to the balcony with its view of the street. This is a great place to take a break and grab a bit of fresh air before plunging back in or to add your two cents worth to the graffiti that continues up here from downstairs. The stage is substantially larger here and the entire lower floor of this area is a mosh-pit for some less cramped moshing around. This is my favorite part of Fitzgerald’s. Its size and added height provides the opportunity for a bigger better show while being much more comfortable and hospitable.

If you like music and/or alcoholic beverages, if your nerves are too calm and in need of an aural kick-in-the-pants, then a trip to this infamous watering hole might be just what you need. Like I said, it’s not hard to find. I’ve been there 5 or so times and plan to go the next time opportunity presents itself. Load up your friends and prepare yourself for a great time and a bit of Houston musical history. There have been many bands that have had the pleasure of performing there. The club has been in business since 1977. Twenty-six years of business should be proof enough that this club will offer you an experience like none other. It has given me that impression every time I bring myself. From famous to local, the bands perform and keep this club up and running every single night. Some nights there are even shows of other things than music. For instance, a couple of friends and I went one night and after the first two sets a group called CORE performed for us. Now this was not a musical band of any sort. If you ask me, I thought it was rather gross and disgusting. This crew of men took hooks and pierced each other on stage. With piercings in their backs, legs, arms, and feet, they suspended themselves in the air higher and higher above the stage on these hooks. Not only that, they stayed in these circumstances for about twenty minutes. You could even see blood breaking through these freshly punctured wounds. We all left that night confused of whether that was entertaining or not but for the most part satisfied. Either way it was still a fun and exciting experience. The coolest and most interesting thing about this club is that it is very unpredictable. With all the variety of music in Houston, you are bound for a wonderful surprise. (some interesting artists include: www.toolband.com/, www.aperfectcircle.com/, www.shadowsfall.com/,and www.killswitchengage.com/) It just gives you a let loose and fun having kind of feeling that doesn’t leave your spine until you lay to rest and go to sleep. So next time you really want to get out and have some fun, I a sure that this is the place to go. So like I said, load up your friends and set off on a journey that you’ll never forget. Then you too can understand the pleasure the Fitzgerald’s experience.

Toolband

Shadowfall

A Perfect Circle

Map:

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