Interview with Rage Monsters – A Powerhouse in Houston’s Hard Dance Scene


In Houston, the hard dance scene has come in and out of popularity many times in the past. As crews are founded, disbanded, and the general music loving population debates on what genre is in at the moment, the hard dance scene has continuously found itself able to survive each trough and peak.

With Hurricane Patricia forcing Something Wicked 2015 to be cancelled, hundreds of people first heard the name Rage Monsters as they scoured social media looking for a new place to party. As other shows around the city reached capacity, the Rage Monsters team watched their ticket sales for their Lady Faith show skyrocket. After an incredibly successful and well-received debut show, the Rage Monsters continued to bring hard dance acts to Houston. Now, after their brief hiatus, they have returned to host a number of fantastic events and have once again made their place in the Houston hard dance scene.

Before their most recent show featuring the lovely and talented Lady Faith, I was able to speak with Jason Keesler and Michael Mortola of the Rage Monsters team to gather some information on who they are and what they have planned for the city in the future. They explained how they founded the team, what they dream of, and what all they have planned for the city in the coming year.

How did the idea for Rage Monsters come about?

Jason: We wanted to throw a show for our friends after Something Wicked. First we started looking at AirBnb and we found one that held about 100 people and we were like “yeah that’ll work” and then we realized for the amount of money that we were going to pay for that, we could get the Silo for only a little bit more. I’ve been going to the Silo since the early 2000’s and knew it would work. So we booked the Silo, it snowballed from there, and then we started thinking, what if we booked a hardstyle DJ? All of our core group of friends love hardstyle, someone mentioned that Lady Faith does charity shows sometimes. We put in an offer, we booked her, and that’s really how everything started. Actually, it all snowballed after I made all my friends watch the movie Groove. After the movie we all started talking about throwing a show.

Michael: Yeah he had everyone watch it and then took us out to breakfast afterwards.

Kayla: I’ll have to watch that, I haven’t seen it.

Jason: It’s really cheezy, but it’s exactly the way it was back then in the early 1990’s – 2000’s. Definitely watch it.

Do you see any difficulties hosting hard dance shows in Houston?

Michael: I would say not for us because we have an established fan base ever since our first show.

Kayla: That’s definitely true.

Michael: So everyone is more welcome to come to our shows because they know that we have the power to have a good event.

Kayla: You guys definitely have your core that’s going to show up no matter what.

Jason: Even Lady Faith was saying how she sees that people come in from Dallas and Austin and that’s how it goes for every show. There’s just our awesome crew that always comes down and we really do have pull from other cities because nobody is really getting hardstyle when there’s good acts that come in they’re down for it.

What would you say is your personal favorite show to date?

Michael: Probably Wasted Penguinz. We dropped a fuck ton of money on it and it was really to make everyone happy.

Jason: Well, like I said we really only books the shows that we want to see and that was kind of like our present to ourselves from the first Lady Faith show. But looking back at all the shows, [the first] Lady Faith was probably the most memorable because of how it all went down and we hit the lottery.

     Michael: It was just dumb luck.

     Kayla: It was so perfect.

     Jason: I’d have to say that the most memorable show was our first show with Lady Faith. Just due to how the whole thing went down. From no one knowing who we were and announcing lady Faith at the silo, to worrying about the weather and not finding a backup plan (the Ayva center) until three days before the show.  Then reopening online sales Saturday morning once we heard rumors of Wicked being cancelled and watch our tickets sales go from 200 to 1600 over the following few hours. Lady Faith’s flight almost got cancelled due to weather, but she still made it. Then just sitting back at the show in amazement that we actually made all this happen. That so many people were having a great time even though Wicked was cancelled. Lny Tnz was definitely a close one too, because it was a comeback show and I got to kick it with Mitchell of Lny Tnz for four days since he flew in on Sunday but the show wasn’t until Wednesday.

If there were any artist, budget aside, that you would bring to Houston, who would it be?

     Michael: Heady.

     Jason: Headhunterz.

     Kayla: That was an easy answer!

     Michael: We’ll see. Maybe Radical Redemption or Ran-D one day.

What can we expect from Rage Monsters in 2018?

     Michael: Figure out to keep supporting the harder styles and giving the community what they want.

     Jason: We got the perfect setup right now with the venue [The Dive] it’s the right size to where it’s just the hardstyle crowd. I’ve been networking with hardstyle promoters across the nation and we’re all working together to book bigger names and make multishow deals to where we can get the artists that the people probably wouldn’t expect to see.

     Kayla: And of course if they [hard dance artists] can get more shows in the United States and get to call it a North American tour it will be a lot easier on you guys.

     Michael: Right, because we are supposed to have a budget between all the promoters and we can reach out to all corners of the nation.

     Jason: We have the manpower now to be able to make these shows happen that most people didn’t think they would ever see. Specifically shows like these, not events like Basscon or an Insomniac event.

Now can we look forward to more shows here at The Dive? Personally I love the venue and the atmosphere it brings to these shows.

     Jason: The goal is to do one a month, and The Dive has become really popular and it’s becoming super hard to get dates so we’re locking in dates way in advance.

     Kayla: I love it here and it’s honestly the perfect size for our scene. Plus for you guys are having these shows in a way that’s more successful than other venues where they throw free shows and lose money, because a lot of people who don’t want to pay any show up and there are no bar sales. With a small venue like this and by booking artists in high demand you can actually justify the ticket prices by ensuring the crowd coming is one that truly wants to see the artist and enjoy all aspects of the venue and show.

     Michael: We have to give a shoutout to Suraj [Kurian] because he’s partnered with Jason and he’s done so much for Jason because he saw so much potential in Jason.

     Jason: Yeah we work really well together and I honestly wouldn’t really ever consider anyone else to do the sound, I really trust him and if we move to any other venue if a bigger show is needed, even if we branch out from hardstyle, we’d have him with us. There are opportunities for us ahead to bigger and better shows…

     Michael: But we’re still planning to keep our roots in the same place.

     Kayla: Will you guys be branching out to anything else in the faster bpm genres or stick to hard dance specifically?

     Michael: Always hard dance in the core, but we’ll branch out to do other artists in the same spectrum.

     Jason: Hard dance will always be our number one and here. When it comes to shows at Ayva we’ll be looking at big headliner names.

     Michael: But no matter what we’ll represent the harder styles.

     Kayla: Which you both obviously do well because all of the past shows have been done with perfection.

     Michael: That’s because the Houston community supports each other. Even all of the other cities will come out to support each other if it’s worth it.

The Rage Monsters are continuing their strong beginning of 2018 by next hosting the legend Kutski for the next installment of Sound of the Underground at The Dive. The evening has a lineup covering multiple hard dance and other dance music genres, so if you are interested in seeing what the Rage Monsters put together, this will be a good opportunity.

Check out their Facebook event for Kutski on Friday, February 16th.

About Kayla Draper

Music: Hard Dance | Drum and Bass | Future Bass

Hobbies: Cosplay | Travel | Music Festivals | Sewing | Dancing | Contact Staff

Likes: Fried Chicken | Samurai | Video Games | Sleep

Dislikes: Beans | Bugs | Traffic | Complacency

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