As if there weren’t enough obstacles to being a touring band nowadays — crazy gas prices! low record sales! no health insurance! that pervasive fart smell! — now one must add “getting beat down by the cops” to the list of job hazards. Sure, I suppose Henry Rollins would tell you that’s been part of the deal for decades (“f*cking pigs!” would probably be his exact words), but he toured back when punk was a lifestyle, not a hairdo; no one thinks that an alt-country band playing a show at a neighborhood Houston, Texas venue like Walter’s on Washington should have to worry about being tasered in this day and age.
Sadly, that is no longer true as of this weekend, when Two Gallants — a couple nice dudes named Adam and Tyson who play music I once described as the intersection of the White Stripes, Dylan, and Irish folk songs — found their show whipped into a melee thanks to a noise complaint and what appears to be the extremely violent overreaction of a couple Houston Police Department officers. Tyson was arrested, the 90-year-old stand-up bass of opener Langhorne Slim was destroyed (something that gives me a stomachache), and pretty much everyone there comes across as totally terrified in the videos available at the incident’s official MySpace page. Yes, that’s right: incidents get their own MySpace pages now. (I want to be friends with the Spanish Inquisition!)
I’m not going to pass judgment until all the facts are in, althoughI can tell you right now that public sympathy does not really seem tobe with the cops. Meanwhile, you can read the Houston Press’s blog for a good wrapup, and keep an eye on Pitchfork (who are hoping for an interview with the band sometime today).
But I will say this: I found out about the situation via The Decemberists, who sent around a MySpace bulletin entitled “Here is one reason we are not coming to Houston.”And as a native Houstonian, that just breaks my heart. It’s hard enoughto get decent indie bands to swing through H-Town, and that 3 hourdrive to Austin gets real old for us after a while. So I’d like toimplore everyone — in the music community and the police department –to find out exactly what went wrong at Walter’s, and take steps to makesure it never happens again. But don’t punish the kids of Houston. It’shard enough to be from there as it is.