Sunday, September 26, 2010

Houston, Baby!

In August, I turned 27 (Graham here). My wife Jenna decided that we needed to do something really special to celebrate my birthday. Since my favorite band of all time just happens to be The Pixies, and the Houston Dynamo were playing Toronto FC, we headed to Houston, TX last weekend. We had a great weekend, saw tons of awesome stuff, and while I was there I came up with an amazing rating system. I give this article 5/5 awesome points just to set the tone.

Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC
Tickets baby!

Public Transport to and from Robertson Stadium

Every time I go to a new city, ride the public transportation around for a day or two, and then tell someone who obviously does not take public transport that I’ve been riding the bus, I invariable get a slightly disgusted looking face and a “I’m soooo sorry.”

But you know what, having the guy behind you on the bus ask for money and explain in detail how your money will allow him to not have disgusting diarrhea is all part of the ride. Besides, while we were waiting at the bus stop, a friendly guy invited us to party with el Batallon, a Dynamo supporter group, and cheer with them in the stands.

Police Suspicion of el Batallon
Dynamo Tattoo
el Batallon Tattoo

When I tailgate at a Wizard’s game, there is nary a police in sight. It doesn’t matter where you go in the parking lots, people are having a good time with their families and friends and the police leave everyone be.

This was not the case at the el Batallon tailgate and during the game. While we hung out with them before hand, drank beers, laughed and talked, the police watched them like a shit hawk. El Batallon was full kids of all ages and families, but the police parked several marked and unmarked cop cars right outside the tailgate and stared and pointed.

Eventually the marked cars left but the unmarked car stayed and the cops pointed out different members to each other and talked about them. On the way into the stadium, cops came out of nowhere to escort the whole group in. Why did the cops have to act so cold? What happened to community cops who are friendly and laugh and talk with people to keep things in line?
Inside the stadium, several angry looking cops stared at the supporter group the entire game.

Supporter Section Fun
For a long time, I’ve had the creeping suspicion that every supporters group in MLS just sings the same songs and just inserts their team’s name where appropriate. Not the case with el Batallon. It was a nice change to be in a section with plenty of brass instruments and new songs. These guys are awesome. Extremely friendly and fun to hang out with. Thanks for the great time el Batallon.

Concessions at Robertson
What do I expect from concessions at a stadium? Well a couple different types of food offerings and a few different beer types. Not the case at Robertson. All the stands are exactly the same and all of them had new crew who had no idea what they were doing.

Sightlines at Robertson
It wasn’t until this game that I realized how good of a view you could get from being high up in an end zone. Robertson does have a lot of charm to it (somehow) and most of the seats give a good view of the play. I don’t know why I’ve always wanted to see a game at Robertson, but now I can cross it off my list.

The Pixies – Doolittle Tour at Verizon Wireless Theater Downtown Houston
The Pixies - Houston TX
Go right now and look up a review of the Pixies’ Dootlittle tour. You’ll inevitably read some backhanded compliments of how the Pixies still rock but they are just in it for the money now, don’t care about the art, and haven’t wrote a new song in years.

You know what, screw you back-handed compliment giving smug indie reviewer fucks.

Go buy a tiny comb to brush your over-sized mustache.

The Pixies rock harder than ever and do it with more love and passion than anyone else. In case you haven’t realized where this review is going already, they Pixies rocked Houston so hard they melted faces.

Crowd at the show. The Pixies brought out a very diverse crowd with ages from Junior High to Senior Citizen.

The latest Pixies tour is a celebration of one of the greatest albums of all time, Doolittle . The Pixies stride on stage after clips of the famous Debaser movie and proceed to slice eyeballs for two hours.

They start off with the B sides. That’s right, they play all the Doolittle B sides with Kim Deal acting as the frontsperson for the band. With just a few words, she announces that Doolittle is starting, when it it’s halfway through, and when it comes to an end.

The second song into Doolittle, Tame. Sorry you have to see my beard. (NOTE FROM EDITOR BRUCE: Beards rule, and there is no need to apologize for them! Ever!)

Each song is accompanied by unique eye-catching and song enhancing visuals. Trippy video plays in the background. Blood pours down the screen during “I Bleed,” guns flash during “There Goes My Gun,” it’s a great enhancement to each song.

It adds new dimensions to hear the whole Doolittle album played live after listening to it on CD and MP3 for so long. New tones, new guitar solos, new cords, and extended cuts. Frank Black’s voice cuts through the music hall like a bat flying out of a dark cavern. His screams are louder and longer than ever before.

To hear Doolittle live in order is like going to an amazing museum and spying beautiful piece of art that you only have seen prints and pictures of. All of a sudden you can see deeper into the piece of art. You can see the individual brush strokes, you can feel the layering and texturing, you realize the true size and depth of the painting.

Fortunately, The Pixies didn’t quit after Doolittle is played. They returned for three separate encores and ripped into their catalog.

Into the White, no beard this time.

After the concert, we wandered around back and found the tour busses. I was lucky enough to get Frank Black and David Lovering's autographs and shake their hands.


Back to Kansas City

There was one last event worth mentioning from the trip. On the way back to Kansas City we happened to be on the same flight as Dynamo backup keeper Tyler Deric. What a nice guy! After we got off the plane he took his picture with us, autographed his own Houston Dynamo cap, and gave it to us. It was a great end to a great trip.

Tyler Deric and I.

After pressure from administration, the Jewel fan group reluctantly banned the USA chant I wrote about last week. Mission accomplished?

Random Houston Graffiti




You can reach graham @ You can also follow him at


Anonymous joe the curmudgeon said...

Looks like Banksy or a reasonable facsimile was in H-town. Nice piece, G.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Hey, just thought I'd say that while I obviously love reading the news roundups, these other pieces add a personal touch to du Nord that makes the site a bit more complete.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

Thanks guys, I really enjoy being a part of duNord.

As ya'll might have noticed from the pattern of the last three weeks, I'm trying to do one weekend article a week.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Former Thundergunner said...

Very nice! I totally agree on the public transit side; it just isn't the same traveling to a cool city and then having to drive to the stadium--you miss out on part of the city. I'll never forget how awesome it was to take the subway, LRT combo to Azteca! Too bad you'd have to hitchhike to get to the KC stadium without a car...

8:13 PM  
Blogger brucio said...

Could not agree more Patrick!

It brings a huge smile to my face to read Graham's and Joe's words.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the Dynamo FO request the cops to look over El Battallion or are the cops doing it on their own accord? I am sick of MLS going after SG's for no reason.

6:42 PM  
Blogger Clayton John said...

houston has a large gang problem where the gang members wear sports clothing that says "houston" on it or get tattoos that say "h-town" or "houston". that may be the reason for the strong police presence, although it's silly to try and determine if one is in a gang b/c they're wearing a jersey and a sporting event!

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

El Battalion does rock pretty hard at Dynamo games. Passionate soccer fans that sing for the full 90 and support the Dynamo through thick and thin. Could be the closest thing to an actual hardcore Ultra supporters group that MLS has seen.

As for the cops, well someone just needs to ask about the fire in the stands and the Chivas USA fan attacked in the parking lot to understand the police presence.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

I saw Sonic Youth once in NYC and once in Brooklyn around the same time as the Doolittle Tour and they rocked way harder than the Pixies. And I love the Pixies. And I'm from NY, not a hipster.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

Hmmmm. Do you have a mustache?

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Neal said...

duNord is now more than futbol, and even better for it (if possible) ... thanks for inviting the additional contributors.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

Haha, no. Just a true New Yorker.

8:15 PM  

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