Back in July, a fake news site called Super Official News announced that actor/comedian Bill Murray would be embarking on a party crashing tour across the United States. A list of dates and cities were announced so that interested hosts could invite Bill to join them. All you had to do was hang a banner that reads “Bill Murray Can Crash Here,” provide booze, a couch for him to sleep on, and karaoke. Funkytown rose to the imaginary challenge in such spectacular fashion: there were even photos posted on the Super Official News website of the giant papier mâché Stay-Puff Marshmallow man being constructed on the roof. If you weren’t there on Saturday, you missed the event of the year.
Despite some wet blankets who tried to kill the vibe on Facebook with pesky facts (so maybe the phone number in the article rings up the Westboro Baptist Church), The Where House would not be dissuaded by something so trivial as reality. Exasperated, one fan posted: “I am just baffled that people are still confused about the fact that this pseudo tour is simply an excuse to have an insane g----mn party at the Where House with all of your friends and the best music in panther city.”
And they weren’t kidding about the best music bit. When I got there the place was packed, and Oil Boom was setting up on stage. Towers had been added to either side of the stage, with remote controlled lights and lasers. I made my way through the main rooms, outside to the two courtyards where all the cool kids hang out, and found that they had added a snack stand with little marshmallow men, a putting green, karaoke, and Taco Heads food truck was serving. But there wasn’t enough time for me to sink a single putt before I heard Oil Boom rocking out and had to make my way back to the stage.
Back in December of 2010, I wrote about Oil Boom and I asked Santa to please bring them a bass player. That wasn’t a criticism, it’s just that I dug Ryan Taylor’s guitar work so much, I felt that he was being held back by having to cover the bass end of things as well. Santa apparently came down the chimney with Steve Steward. And with Steve on bass, Ryan really has room to move. Fort Worth drummer Matt Mabe jumped up on stage and sang backup for a few songs. This is a seriously good band, and you need to check them out.
Up next was a band called Fungi Girls, an outfit that involves neither fungi nor girls. The band consists of Jacob Bruce (guitar, lead vocals), Skyler Salinas (drums) and Deryck Barrera (bass). They are kind of a garage/psychedelic/surf punk kind of thing, and they do that quite well.
Next we had Gunga Galunga – sort of. Jeff Dazey was there, and Andrew Skates, but Lucas White and John Shook are off on tour, so Steve Steward sat in for bass, Kris Luther of Hanna Barbarians played some guitar and keys, and Jorts Richardson took some time off from backing up Ringo Star and Ben Harper, and flew in to play drums. Yes, it was as awesome as that sounds, even though they mainly did covers of songs from Bill Murray films. When they did the Ghostbusters theme, a party-goer in Ghostbusters coveralls jumped up on stage and danced for the crowd.
Following Gunga, we got a rare performance from Funkytown super group Epic Ruins. The band consists of Jorts Richardson (guitar, drums), Matt Mabe (guitar, drums), Buffalo Sam Anderson (guitar, vocals) Andrew Skates (keyboards), Ray Liberio (keyboards), Jeff Dazey (sax) and Steve Steward (bass). They do kind of a freakishly good psychedelic concept rock show. It would be classic rock if it had been done 20 years ago, and if there was any justice in the music world, it would be played in a football stadium. These guys pack the house whenever they play, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end an already devastating night of music – unless you did something outrageous like follow this mess up with a Hanna Barbarians show.
And they did.
The Barbarians have been the go-to force for psychedelic rock righteousness around here for some time, and the response from the crowd was amazing. I was sitting on a speaker cabinet near the stage and by the third song I found myself completely blocked in. When the lights from the towers lit up the crowd, all I could see was a solid block of people from the stage to the doors. Indeed, when I left at 2 a.m. (The Where House is not a bar, so they close when they want), the Barbies were still going strong and more people were trying to get in. I think everyone but Bill Murray was there.
I think it’s telling that despite how much money developers and investors dump into the 7th street corridor, the best music and the best parties are still to be found in more organic places like The Where House; with minimal facilities and parking, no signage, and in a dodgy neighborhood they have the kind of loyalty that most clubs would kill for. You can’t fake this, the people know it, and the people still respond. Maybe they shouldn’t bulldoze all those old buildings after all.