Houston Counterculture

ANARCHO-PUNKS ORGANIZE FIRST ROCK AGAINST RACISM CONCERT AT UH (1979)

Led by a sociology student named Henry Weissborn, the three-member strong Direct Action Committee (DAC) at the University of Houston began organizing “Be-In” events in the spirit of the previous decade’s counterculture. Also know by the Youth International Party’s moniker “Yippies,” Weissborn, brothers Jeff and Dave Stewart and their fellow activist party banded together with some of Houston’s earliest punk bands to produce these underground music gigs.

There is cut-and-paste evidence that legendary Houston punk progenitors Really Redand Legionaire’s Disease performed at Yippie-organized Be-Ins, including an outdoor event held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park, which drew a massive crowd of around 500 supporters, according to a report in Weissborn’s first DIY publication, ULTRA magazine.

Houston’s student Yippie chapter planned to launch the city’s first Rock Against Racism event on campus as documented on this flyer promoting ULTRA, but the “free rock and reggae” campus event was called off. The show took place instead at Paradise Island on April 1, 1979. Among some of the classic punk bands performing for the first time were AK-47 and Vast Majority, two of Houston’s most radical.

ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES  .

ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

IMAGERY OF REVOLT: AK-47’S THE BADGE AND THE MACHINE MANDALA (1980)

IMAGERY OF REVOLT: AK-47’S THE BADGE AND THE MACHINE MANDALA (1980)

One of the most iconic records to come out of the first wave Houston punk scene, AK-47’s The Badge Means You Suck (/Kiss My Machine, 1980) was a protest anthem against Houston’s Police Department, which had a documented history of racism and extreme violence during the 1970s.

JOSEFUS AND AN END TO LSD-LACED ORANGES AT MILBY PARK (1970)

Prior to Houston’s first wave punk scene, the city held its own during the psychedelic underground of the late 1960s, with legendary venues such as Love Street Light Circus downtown and its own version of Woodstock in Milby Park on the weekends.

Local psych and garage rock bands performed for free on the rolling hill where nearby trees concealed coolers full of LSD-laced oranges. The venue at Milby Park ended abruptly, once again under the boot of an antagonistic HPD.

Formed in Houston in 1969, Josefus was a latecomer to the Houston psychedelic circuit, which included 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, two of the most notable Texas acts from this era. Playing at Milby Park and other local venues, Josefus’ darker experimental sound bridged acid rock and blues-infused Southern rock; however, the sound was not harmonious with Summer of Love psychedelia.

Dead Man, the band’s first full length album, was released in 1970. While the band dissolved shortly after this debut, it was revived again in 1978 with a new lineup, and Josefus released several singles on its own Hookah label. Josefus continues to perform sporadically as of 2013.

Simultaneous to Houston’s earliest punk bands, WILD DOG zine acknowledged the garage and psych rock music that influenced — yet created a rift within — the newest wave.

MEDIA COURTESY OF   WILD DOG ARCHIVES.

MEDIA COURTESY OF WILD DOG ARCHIVES.