At Satellite Bar, Making Houston’s Music Scene Cooler One Show at a Time

Plus, the local bands and national tours we're looking forward to this fall.

By Chris Gray August 26, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Castillo has been able to attract national acts to Satellite.

Gil Castillo didn’t set out to become Satellite Bar’s booking agent. In 2016 he was at the scrappy East End venue drumming for his psych-pop band, Mantra Love, when owner Erick Quiroz offered him a bartending job. Castillo took the gig, but it wasn’t long before his attention wandered to the empty stage. “I was like, ‘There’s dates open on the calendar, I’m going to start booking shows,’” he remembers.

It was a role Quiroz was happy to relinquish. Under Castillo’s watch, Satellite has become a hub for local bands like Mind Shrine and Rome Hero Foxes, as well as national touring acts like Brooklyn lo-fi outfit Beach Fossils—one of Castillo’s personal favorites—who played the venue’s backyard stage this spring. “Eric and I were standing there, and I just kind of fist-bumped him like, ‘Dude, we did this,’” Castillo says. “That show really put us on the map for a lot of bigger bands.”

Many of Castillo’s duties—endless logistics, emails, and cold calls—are doable remotely, which is good news now that he’s left Mantra Love to join Austin-based Brother Sports and splits his time between the two cities. He’s been able to scout Austin indie hot spots like Hotel Vegas and the Mohawk and replicate their success here in Houston. “I feel like Satellite has started to take on that kind of feel,” Castillo says, before correcting himself. “It was there all along—it just really needed some polishing.”

Season Standouts

Houston Symphony ft. Common | Jones Hall | Sept. 4

The Chicago rapper known for his introspective and agile wordplay joins Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke and the orchestra for a spirited career-spanning revue, from early hits like “I Used to Love H.E.R.” all the way through 2016 Oscar winner “Glory” and selections from latest album Let Love.

Houston SymphonyJones Hall | Sept. 14

The orchestra’s official season opener pours on the star power as longtime St. Louis Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin conducts soloist Yefim Bronfman in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, a work of exquisite beauty and titanic difficulty. Tchaikovsky, Glinka, and Borodin round out an all-Russian program.

Jeff Goldblum & the Mildred Snitzer OrchestraSociety for the Performing Arts | Sept. 20

Who knew the 66-year-old Jurassic Park actor was also an accomplished jazz pianist, proficient in Mingus and Monk? Recorded with his whimsically named regular backing group at L.A.’s Rockwell cabaret, last fall’s The Capitol Studios Sessions let that particular cat out of the bag when it topped Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart.

Phil CollinsToyota Center | Sept. 24

With his Still Not Dead Yet out-of-retirement tour, it’s especially gratifying to see the Genesis drummer turned ’80s megastar getting the last laugh on all those stale stu-stu-studio jokes. Catch us practicing our air-drum solo for “In the Air Tonight.”

Lizzo Revention Music Center | Oct. 4

Consider this a homecoming for the Houston-bred singer and rapper, who stops in town on her Cuz I Love You Too Tour. She’ll likely do some twerking and play at least a few showstopping solos on the Sasha Flute, the star’s Beyoncé-inspired instrument of choice.

Billie EilishToyota Center | Oct. 10

Delivering an alchemical Gen Z combo of Kate Bush, Lorde, and something entirely her own, 17-year-old Eilish jumped from SoundCloud obscurity to a Billboard No. 1 debut album in a handful of years. Her spooky When We All Fall Asleep tour lands in Houston just in time for Halloween.

Tyler, the CreatorNRG Arena | Oct. 26

Confrontational and vulnerable, the erstwhile leader of L.A. rap provocateurs Odd Future has emerged as one of the most idiosyncratic pop stars around. Masking raw emotion with absurdist humor, slurs aplenty, and a woozy electronic aesthetic, Tyler’s kinetic songs often reveal more about his audience than they may care to know.

Sleater-KinneyHouse of Blues | Nov. 7

A source of inspiration to generations of lady rockers, the Portland-based trio is a worthy successor to the Clash as “the only band that matters,” equally adept at combining political urgency with barricade-crashing guitars. Their first album in four years, the St. Vincent–produced The Center Won’t Hold, arrived in August.

CherToyota Center | Dec. 15

By the time her Here We Go Again tour reaches Houston, it will have outlasted the Broadway musical based on her life, whose script called for three separate Chers. Canny as ever, the 73-year-old camp icon has followed her cameo in 2018’s Mamma Mia! sequel with an all-ABBA album, Dancing Queen.

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