Dallas’ Music Venue Economy Good At Goodbyes — A Look Back At Some Of Most Cherished Venues We Bid Farewell To In The ’10s.
Venues come and go, and while some have been inclined to wax nostalgic about the “real” Denton, the “real” Deep Ellum and the “real” Fort Worth, the fact remains that the culture continues to march forward. That may not be what some of you want to hear about your most beloved venues in North Texas, but listen, if Max’s Kansas City and CBGB couldn’t avoid their inevitable demise, what makes you think anywhere else is immune to shuttering?
That’s the way the music business goes, but that doesn’t make the casualties left in its wake any less deserving of our recognition. Out with the old, in with the new and all that, but before we kick off a new decade, let’s take a moment to reflect on the music venues we lost in the 2010s.
Curtain Club held on to Deep Ellum until nearly the bittersweet end of the decade. As we reported back in July, the storied venue said bon voyage for good in 2019. Hate on the Afton showcases and the nu-metal bands all you want, but remaining firmly planted into Deep Ellum over a turbulent couple decades and considerable neighborhood changes is no small feat. Plus, by the end of its run, some of the city’s most reputable promoters started bringing some top-notch acts, including The Distillers, IDLES, Hot Snakes, Tricky, Daughters, Clan of Xymox, The Suffers and so much more.
Rubber Gloves (Original)
So full disclosure: I worked as a talent buyer at Rubber Gloves toward the end of its initial run (three years before its reopening in 2019) and actually put together the farewell weekend. There was a chunk of a severed earlobe that stood on a pillar behind the bar. Neon Indian and Astronautalis got their start there. Acts like Teenage Cool Kids and The Rocket Summer are former frequent tenants of the rehearsal spaces. Vampire Weekend played the venue in 2007, to a crowd of less than a couple dozen people.(The band even recalled its memory of the affair at its 2019 tour stop at Toyota Music Factory.) So many homeless people squatted on the property that at some point, I actually became friends with a couple of them. The bathrooms were so repellent that they could have been used for biological warfare. That’s the culture of Rubber Gloves, and for three whole years, we somehow lived without it.
The Door/2513 Deep Ellum
We could expound on the rich history of what was once known as the Gypsy Ballroom, but the loss of its successors, The Door and the short-lived 2513 Deep Ellum, were also some pretty heavy blows for the pop-punk/post-hardcore/metal scenes. Locals such as Flyleaf and Oh, Sleeper cut their teeth at the venue (before and after its relocation to Main St), and bands such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Cash Cash and Hatebreed set foot on the lofty stage. Oh, and let’s not forget that time Travis Scott bailed on an afterparty scheduled at the venue after performing just two songs.
There’s a “BC” and “AD” sort of thing with Hailey’s in Denton. In the mid-to-late ‘00s, artists like Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Beach House, St. Vincent and Rilo Kiley graced the stage. David Yow of Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid fame played to 10 or so people when Qui came through. Silver Jews played one of its only Metroplex shows (I want to say the only Metroplex show since no record of any others exists, but we’ll err on the side of caution) at Hailey’s. That was the golden age of Hailey’s. Once Daughter Entertainment and Spune left the picture, however, the quality of its programming went down a steep decline. Even then, Danny Brown playing the venue in 2012 for 35 Denton and Andrew WK playing during the Ice-pocalypse were definitely highlights for the books.
Crown and Harp
The upstairs area of Crown and Harp was a cozy little nook that provided a conducive environment to DJs. The downstairs area of the Lower Greenville haunt had a stage adjacent to the front window that gave bands a perfect backdrop, and this stage was open to virtually everybody: noise/experimental projects, hip-hop open mics, SXSW roadshows and even a Korean Elvis impersonator (you laugh, but that guy packed the room every time). It was a proper successor to the previous tenant of the space, The Cavern, with previous guests including Ty Segall, Devendra Banhart, Local Natives and Beach House (whose crowd was largely there to see opener Sarah Jaffe, fun fact).
Backyard on Bell
This particular shuttering happened most recently, so the wound is still a little fresh. The regular drag shows and the pre-presidential-run Beto O’Rourke rallies were moments in Denton’s cultural landscape that will be remembered for long after its closing. Back when everybody freaked out about Denton venues closing en masse, Backyard on Bell stepped up and offered a fill to the void. The music community was a bit skeptical at first, but over time, the management proved that it truly embraced artistic expression, no matter how many noise complaints were sent BYOB’s way because of it — and from what employees have told me, those were lodged by irate neighbors weekly.
Some people within the DIY community are feeling relief that 1919 Hemphill is gone (someone said some pretty problematic things on its Facebook toward the end), but it was at one point a staple. Reggie Watts and Matt & Kim played a show there together, with the latter headlining, and a few years ago, Foxing played an insane SXSW stopover show with eight other bands, one of which was Tiny Moving Parts. AJJ used to frequent it back when the band’s name was Andrew Jackson Jihad, and La Dispute has given the venue multiple shoutouts at various Dallas shows. From the time of its inception, every gig at 1919 was $6, until its demise just a little over three years ago when right-wingers on 4chan reported it for code violations.
I saw Colleen Green and Upset at The Grotto in 2015, and Ali Koehler (vocalist for Upset, who is also a member of Vivian Girls) gave me a split 7” of Upset, Waxahatchee, Swearin and Screaming Females playing Guided by Voices covers. As personally anecdotal as that is, many have fond memories of the Grotto. Before it closed its doors in late 2017, there was a taco truck directly in front that served the most tender al Pastor you can imagine.
Live Oak Music Hall
Between its 2012 christening and 2017 shuttering, The Live Oak had a rather lowkey presence in Fort Worth alone. So as you can imagine, people in Dallas proper didn’t give it much thought. Regardless, the venue hosted quality country shows, with the likes of Cody Jinks, Amanda Shires, Leon Russell and Shakey Graves. There were also some cross-genre affairs hosted at the Fort Worth venue, with artists like DIIV, Speedy Ortiz (which played to virtually no one), Royce da 5’9 and Ra Ra Riot.
Regal Room at Independent Bar + Kitchen
Independent Bar and Kitchen was a short-lived venture spearheaded by Club Dada and City Tavern owner Joshua Florence. And given that it opened in 2017 and closed last year, there isn’t much we can do by way of namedropping, but just know that the back venue room — called the Regal Room — true potential. Plus, if you wanted to take a break from any madness happening at Curtain Club, all you would have to do is take a few paces directly across the street to step into the bar. It provided a refreshing contrast, but tragically, neither of the aforementioned venues is with us anymore. However, Will Call Bar, — which now occupies the space — does have plans to utilize the space for a venue again soon.
Beauty Bar (Original)
Like a considerable portion of the venues listed on this piece, Beauty Bar closed its Henderson Avenue location in 2019. We could expound on the significance of this venue at great length, but it’s probably best that we let this 2015 piece of ours speak for us yet again. The good news is, this one never left us — it just uprooted from its iconic, cherry-painted home and into the beast that is Deep Ellum.
Cover photo of Curtain Club’s last show by Josh Mazur.