The Shakeup Around White Oak Music Hall’s Outdoor Stage

THE SHAKEUP AROUND WHITE OAK MUSIC HALL’S OUTDOOR STAGE Rendering of White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main, Houston, 77009The permanent outdoor concert stage suggested by renderings of N. Main St.’s newest music venue, Erin Mulvaney writes this week, wasn’t included in the building permits approved for the venue; for now, it appears that the blue-roofed temporary stage used for the music hall’s first concert this past weekend will be covering the outdoor gig indefinitely. Meanwhile, Houston police documented at least 17 noise complaint calls from the immediate area on Saturday night, and 1 during the leadup week; multiple residents near the spot tell Mulvaney that their homes were vibrating to the music of French electronica group M83. Area resident Kerry Whitehead remarks to Swamplot on her observations from her home nearby: “I recently read a quote in a 1983 Texas Monthly article about our stretch of Main Street . . .  seeing I-45 in proximity to Hollywood Cemetery (an ‘old, lush place’ then, as it is now), the author remarked that he imagined ‘the bones of the nineteenth-century dead rattling in resonance with the vibrations from the freeway.’ Well, if those bones resting in peace hadn’t been rattled yet, they were rattled on Saturday night — as was I.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of White Oak Music Hall complex: White Oak Music Hall

37 Comment

  • So there were 17 noise complaints and 0 citations? Hmm…..

  • According to the Chronicle’s article yesterday, the 17+ noise violations that were called in all were mysteriously cancelled. What is going on???

  • Yes. It seems something is not right,bedmondson. The whole thing is weird. No occupancy required by the city. My house shook as well and one of my dogs freaked out just like she does during thunder storms. This was a mellow show we hear, as to what is to come.

  • How did this venue operate without a certificate of occupancy? This construction site doesn’t have a permit or a certificate of occupancy. How did this get by the city? What shady business is going on here?

    Who did the trust fund babies bribe over at the city?

  • 0 citations issued because HPD was on scene working the show.A few seemed to be working off-duty doing traffic for WOMH itself, but there were 5-10 HPD on bikes that appeared to be on-duty.

    A production guy for the tour posted a schedule for the show on instagram and it appeared to show WOMH operating under a strict 11:00pm curfew. The schedule literally said “Curfew”.

    I’m looking forward to more shows there, my new fav venue in Houston.

  • Meanwhile, in the shady neighborhood nearby, an elderly resident reads from a stack of magazines dated 1983, pausing to pen an eloquent missive to any news outlet that will listen to her. There’s something very sort of Old New Orleans about this image, like maybe the aunt in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer.

  • The City gave them a 380 Agreement. White Oak Music Hall must really have some friends in high places!

  • Perhaps no citations because there wasn’t a violation?
    A complaint doesn’t automatically = violation.

    All their building permits are on the up & up – they’ve worked closely with the city throughout design & construction. The event Saturday had a ‘special event’ permit and was vetted by the city.

    This is a first class deal; don’t imply something sinister going on. Read the articles.
    And no, I am in no way affiliated with it.

  • My question is you had a year to complain before after plans were submitted to the city. Why are you just now realizing a music venue is coming in?Your time has past to have a voice.

  • Absolutely crazy. A “temporary” stage that is basically going to be permanent. Does a temporary stage have to come up to “permanent” stage codes?

    The neighbors have every right to be outraged.

  • Apparently Kerry Whitehead and Beth Lousteau who have been leading a neighborhood campaign against this venue circulated an email calling on all neighbors to call in a noise complaint the second the music started. With the fear mongering they have done about no parking, traffic, etc. no wonder people were suckered into calling in. However a noise complaint is not a violation. The 17 calls did nothing because the noise ordinance was not violated. I live just south of the bayou and could not hear the music at all. It all seemed to run pretty smoothly. Plenty of police presence, 4 parking lots and 600 spaces, and traffic move along N. Main. Thank goodness we finally have some traffic for businesses along N. Main again. The N.Main light rail and commercial corridor was developed and invested in by COH to spur economic development with exactly these type of commercial destination developments.

  • What a nightmare for neighboring residents. An unpermitted outdoor venue with 3k people, earth shaking bass, and 30-50 events a year?

  • Anonomys,

    I wouldn’t ordinariliy respond to an assertion made by someone who chooses to hide behind a scree nname. But I feel compelled since some of your claims are baseless.

    First, I agree that complaint does not equal a violation. The problem is that all the calls were “cancelled”. There is no evidence that anyone from HPD measured the sound. If there was, we’d be having another conversation. I’m glad to hear that you did not experience a problem from your location south of bayou, which, not coincidentally, is 180 degrees BEHIND the cone of amplication.

    I personally took a reading, and it was consistently above 75 dB(A) (the limit), and at times up to 110 dB(A). And it’s true that many of us who are concerned about the venue are connected by email. But not everyone has a decibel reader or an iPad app. that measures sound, among them our many elderly residents. Precisely because we don’t want people calling in bogus claims, we measured it. It was only after the decibel level was confirmed that any message was communicated.

    As to what happened to those calls, I’ll leave that for others to sort out.

  • The White Oak Music group has not been forthright from day one. They promised not to come into our neighborhood and we now see a hidden sign on a building in Glen Park for an after hours bar. They seem to have people within the city allowing them to go around laws everyone else has to abide by from building permits to sound levels. The Raven Tower is unsafe with narrow and very steep stairways, no elevator and people who are being served alcohol. Where is the TABC, where is the city, where is our new mayor….are they in this group’s back pocket?

  • From what I know of these fights, the home owners always win at he end.

  • I’d also like to respond to a couple of other comments:

    Phil, please point us to the “special event permit” this venue allegedly obtained. The Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE) has no record. The City has no mechanism by which one can get a “special event permit” for something held entirely on private land. A sound permit, yes. TABC, maybe. But they did not have a “special event permit” so far as any department at the City that has been asked, can tell. If the answer turns out to be that they didn’t need this so-called special events permit, then that’s that. But until then, people need to stop pointing to this permit that doesn’t appear to exist.

    Secondly, to “R”, we have been voicing our concerns in meetings DIRECTLY WITH THE DEVELOPERS, particularly as they relate to the outdoor venue, since July of 2014! So it’s simply not true to say that we are only complaining now.

  • My wife and I arrived about 20 minutes after the show started, and had to depart about 20 before it ended. Since we took taxis to & from, we twice had the chance to walk the streets north of the bayou, with the noise on. My observations were that the crowds & traffic were well handled, and that if I were a resident the nonstop and chaotic roar from I-45 would bother me a lot more than the music. That being said, I do think it is an oddly residential location for a (semi-?) permanent outdoor stage.

    My guess is that construction is far behind schedule, and so in order to stay afloat, the developers pulled some strings to get permission for more outdoor events than were originally planned. Residents are therefore entitled to some form of compensation, especially those within two blocks of the stage. Rising property values should take care of most of that, as this area will gentrify rapidly. If you walk down North St and cross over 45, you will see that it has already happened West of the freeway. However, renters who are there to attend Travis ES will lose out mightily on this development.

  • How long is this temporary stage suppose to be there for? 1 year? The site permitted this temporary stage for 1 year? What kind of twisted bullsh_t is this? Council member Karla Cisneros has a lot of explaining to do.
    Why did the city permit this to happen? Not only does this place not have a permit or a certificate of occupancy but they also what they have constructed does not comply with their renderings. That stage is facing the wrong way. You better bet the neighborhood has every single right to be outraged. The project is not yet even complete so yes, the neighborhood is complaining.

    In fact, the whole city should take note because it can happen to you. It can happen anywhere in Houston.

    Also, that elevator in the Raven is not to code. That is a tiny elevator. Who is in charge of permitting and inspecting this. That person needs to be fired!
    “This is a first class deal; don’t imply something sinister going on. Read the articles.
    And no, I am in no way affiliated with it.” No, this isn’t a first class deal… this is a couple of trust fund babies muscling their way through the system to get what they want and screwing over anyone they can to do whatever it is they want to do… in this case make sure White Oak Music Hall is open when it is still in a construction phase.
    No affiliated with them? Sureeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee I don’t believe that for one second!

  • Bull plop, you think Omar and crew doesn’t grease the wheels of the city? Cough, summerfest, yeah….. Something shady is definitely afoot.

  • I don’t doubt there were 75 dB sound volume readings, as the traffic on I-45 will produce volume on that level.
    Regarding the “cone of amplification”, the WOMH building acts as a barrier to the PA system. I live approx 40° perpendicular to the stage, so I’m not sure if I’m included in that cone, and I had no issues. There are plenty of weekends I get to hear the PA from the Fiesta En Guadalajara, which is further away. I get that this is a big change, and people are resistant to change. We don’t live in a static world. I think these additions on Main are a good thing overall, despite the growing pains.

  • Dear Residents near the White Oak Music Hall – get used to a tough ride! I feel your pain. Despite the many complaints during almost every concert at Fitzgerald’s and the blatant lies by the tenants of that facility to upgrade the venue to offer better sound protection, the place continues to operate. Ours is a densely populated neighborhood, and the people who bought into it did not expect the sound to get louder and crime to be increased!!! The City has been blind in enforcement. They have allowed noise complaints to go un-cited, they have allowed construction without permits and demolitions of sound historic structures to promote this venue at the cost of the quality of life of the residents and they have allowed property crimes near White Oak to increase. Who will represent the residents? Not the City.

  • living in the heights a long time – not so coincidentally, the group behind White Oak Musical Hall operated out of Fitzgerald for some time… so, it’s the same group.

  • Of course Fitz’s continues to operate, just like it has for the past 40yrs and counting. Not wiping away your complaints as certainly Fitz has been busier in recent years then it may have ever been, but the same could be said for the entire Heights area and it’s certainly no surprise. Crime has nothing to do with any of this though. It’s picked up all over the loop as thieves can now find a whole ton more laptops, remotes, gadgets and expensive bikes lying around inside cars and garages than they used to find just 10yrs. Crime prevention is also dependent on sales tax revenue which is already falling bad enough as it is so I can assure you shutting down the bars will not have the effect that you hope for on that topic. Fewer bars and patrons means fewer patrols.
    We can only expect a level of service from the city that we pay for which is why practically every neighborhood in the montrose area has had to put their money where their mouth is and pay out of pocket for additional constable patrols.

  • There’s a huge difference in the legitimacy of complaints of a townhome owner who bought within the last 10 years in the block behind Fitz’s, which as someone pointed out has been hosting live music for almost 40 years, and a longtime resident of the neighborhood near the brand-spankin’-new White Oak Music Hall, which previously was surrounded by quiet homes and a cemetery.

  • Ugh…this is why we can’t have nice things in Houston…too many folks misguided in crying “NIMBY!”…I get that you’re pissed that your neighborhood has gained an economic generator that will begin to improve your slice of town. I get that it pains you to see young whippersnappers making things happen in Houston outside of O&G. I get that you probably have a lot of time on your hands considering the current downturn in O&G. I get that you don’t see an opportunity to capitalize on this new addition to your neighborhood…your’re too busy crying “NIMBY” to realize it.

  • R_Unit – I’ll bet that the noise and vibrations coming from the newly introduced nuisance makes it hard to appreciate the so-called economic advantages associated with the decrease in home values and quality of life.

  • R_unit, you might sing a different tune if this was near you….where do you live? Do your windows vibrate from sound? We, in the near north side want to see progress in our area, but with respect for the residents.

  • Ugh…it’s you again with this ‘nice things’ comment. You don’t get to have nice things on the backs of taking away nice things from others. Thank goodness laws protect citizens from your way of thinking. It’s an immoral and uncivilized way of thinking. Don’t you see that? For this city-wide Houston experiment of no zoning to work, it takes good judgment, responsible developers, people living by the golden rule, doing what’s right, loving thy neighbor, walking a mile in another man’s shoes (or zipcode!), however you get there. I mean that. And I love Houston because shockingly this mostly works. When it fails, laws do exist to establish a minimum standard we all live by, those minimum standards called on because someone tried to circumvent the law and selfishly do whatever they hell they wanted anyway.

    R_Unit, I would defend the laws that protect you if someone tried to come into your zip code and take those nice things away, things you cherish, like peace. I am so heartened to see Houstonians from other neighborhoods reach out and empathize or sympathize with the Near North Side and Glen Park and anyone within ear shot of this massive open air stage. It’s very heartening. This is the best of Houston, and the nicest thing.

  • Is the property in that the new music hall sits on deed restricted? Homeowners, this is our Houston, and you should not be surprised. If you want zoning and land use restrictions then this not where you should live. The developers have every right to operate their business on this land. Maybe you complainers should of bought all those rundown properties and put a park in to keep the developers out. Why don’t you form a non profit and buy everything up to keep the rest of the developers out? Ive driven those streets and anything goes as far as property uses as far as I can tell. That’s why it’s a great location for the music all, auto shop, storage lot, art gallery, single family home, apartment complex, parking lot, restaurant, cantina, and you name it. Your neighborhood is a complete hodgepodge of everything , it’s Houston, be a Houstonian and embrace it!


  • This is so weird. Isn’t some of the area around there notoriously crappy? Like high crime yada yada. I mean, don’t get me wrong. No one likes loud music banging on their doors at night like that. But on the other hand there are other issues that area is facing, and in a weird way a good venue could help with that. Just, sort of…strange. Although, you know, looking at the map now, I had some friends who used to live across the street, on Goldenrod, rigth next to the cemetery. You really didn’t get that much highway noise. Also, there’s a really REALLY interesting house over there. I’m not going to identify it for you, but it’s one of the most unique houses I’ve seen in houston when you consider it’s location.

  • I don’t understand how anybody can harp on the folks who live around this place that just want a little more respect for their neighborhood. That’s not a NIMBY, which would be trying to roadblock the venue in the first place. White Oak Music Hall needs to be a little more thoughtful in their approach to running this music venue. Who cares if crime may be higher than in other areas? Does that not give them a right to ask for some respect?

    And the city is giving White Oak Music Hall lots of handouts and favors but doing nothing for the rest of the area. A 380 Agreement is a pretty big favor in my opinion. It’s all so shady.

  • @MrE, you weren’t kidding when you said it was interesting…

  • As soon as the place was announced it was obvious there was going to be trouble – a music venue in the middle of an existing quiet residential area is just a butt stupid idea. As for noise complaints vs citations, if you can get HPD to respond to a noise complaint, they will not bother to take a noise reading unless you insist they do. You are pretty much on your own. The only value of calling and recording noise levels is to create a record of the problem for a civil suit. Which I suspect is the only practical option for the neighbors.

  • I read in the chronicle that the 17 plus noise violation call-ins were cancelled. Why? On whose authority? What is going on?

  • You know what ? Couple times a week I hear the PA’s from Reagan high school, three blocks away, blaring away. Sometimes it’s so loud it’s like they’re in the yard behind me. Imagine my outrage ! I have no doubt something sinister is going on, and am prepared to pursue this issue with HISD via the court system.

  • To the commenter who suggested sound readings of 110 db: I call bull honkey. Either you’re exaggerating the situation, or your sound meter needs calibration. The physics just don’t support it.
    Let’s assume that you were standing a reasonable distance from the sound system — 500 meters or around 1600 feet. Using the inverse square law, we can calculate that (in a perfect world), the level at the source was around 160 db. If this were indeed the case, people would be running out of the venue with blood coming out of their ears.

  • Parking was an absolute nightmare for the Cody Jinks concert and I had to park across the bayou. I paid to park in a lot desigated for parking but had to walk there by myself…at night..after the concert.. alone. I’m from Houston and that is NOT a good side of town for anyone to walk alone at night, especially a woman. Won’t return until they get the parking situation under control. I would think the neighborhood near White Oak Music Hall would not want people parking in front of their homes either…