Whether it was at Taco Land on a Saturday night or the Ellis Bean on First Friday, you might remember catching the White Heat, an energetic, four-piece outfit cranking out some of the hippest raw power produced by any local band at the turn of the century.
The Heat evolved from two other favorite San Antonio bands that the Fleming brothers, Mark and Adam, created back in the late 1990s — Slobber and the B-Side Project. After a few tours and a couple of records, however, the White Heat disbanded, leaving behind only memories — booking Fugazi, one of indie rock’s most influential bands at Sunset Station for a sold-out 2002 show, for example, and then getting to open for them after just a few weeks performing as the White Heat. Mark still gets Christmas cards from Ian McKaye.
Today, the Flemings are living and working in San Francisco, California. Adam is the marketing director for the Fillmore, while Mark manages a Half-Price Books store in Berkeley. They continue to jam inseparably in a San Fran-based, indie, post-punk band called Taargus Taargus and seem to love living in the sunshine, but on Thursday, December 31, the Fleming brothers will return to the Mix (2423 N. St. Mary’s) as The Fleming Bros. — Mark on guitar and Adam on drums — for a New Year’s Eve blowout, bringing their whimsical, obscure range of covers for one night only back to the St. Mary’s Strip, their once-regular haunt.
From 2002 to 2004, and after their stint with the White Heat, the Fleming Bros. worked as the house band on Wednesday nights at the Mix, luring in a large college crowd of punks and hipsters. They were a two-piece cover band belting out everything from ’70s punk and honky-tonk to ’80s heavy metal and pop.
“I think we did that `gig` almost two years straight, and during those two years we only missed like one or two Wednesdays,” remembered Mark.
“In the beginning, we told the Mix that we were willing to fill a night as a cover band as long as we were given free rein to play whatever we wanted to play,” said Adam. “So, Danny `Clift` was cool with letting us experiment and try it out.”
Every song the Fleming Bros. performed for the crowd, whether it was a song by Slayer or by Toto, had a gritty garage-rock edge.
“When you play a Slayer song as a stripped-down guitar-and-drums duo, it doesn’t really sound like a Slayer song,” said Mark. “It sounds different, but that’s what we liked about it.”
The Fleming Bros. will ring in the New Year with their standard array of tongue-in-cheek rock renditions and a few surprise San Antonio-centric cover tunes for local musicians and scenesters.
The Fleming brothers say it’s the least they can do.
“If it wasn’t for Ram and Taco Land,” Adam said. “`If` we never had that kind of environment to encourage us to grow and play and meet all the people that we met in San Antonio, I don’t think either one of us would have ended up where we’re at now and ended up doing a lot of the great things that we’ve ended up doing.”•