Five Local Venues That Need To Step Up Their Game

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Coming to House Of Blues.
Not sure if you caught last week's Show Announcements post. There was some pretty good stuff in there, especially now that we're entering live music's busy season, but week after week the House Of Blues listings catch my eye. It's one of the best venues in town. In fact, we gave it a Dallas Observer Music Award. Great sound. Great sight lines. Great lighting. Aside from drink prices, it's a pretty immaculate music venue.

Thing is, the booking has been terrible lately:

Friday, May 4 - Back In Black
Wednesday, May 9 - Yellow Dubmarine
Wednesday, May 9 - Extreme Midget Wrestling
Wednesday, May 16 - Jon McLaughlin
Friday, May 18 - Guns 4 Roses
Wednesday, May 23 - The Dandy Warhols
That's three cover bands, The Dandy Warhols and Extreme Midget Wrestling. Extreme Midget Wrestling! C'mon, House Of Blues. You're better than that. Maybe you could learn a thing or two from the Granada Theater.

The Loft
Remember when The Loft had fantastic shows throughout the week? Camera Obscura, British Sea Power and The Antlers are some of the great bands that performed there. It's really a pretty decent venue, but right now the website has two shows booked (and, to be fair, Deer Tick is coming April 28). To top it off, the venue sends out regular tweets soliciting the space for private events. C'mon, The Loft. You can do better than that.

The Curtain Club
The Curtain Club is the single best club to see a show in Deep Ellum. The sound is incredible, as are the sight lines and lighting, not to mention that the venue is steeped in Dallas music history. Problem is, not very many people know about it, because the local hard rock band format is relentless. Could you imagine seeing an indie touring band like Real Estate, Grimes, White Denim or even a local like Preteen Zenith? I have no doubt that it would be awesome. Perhaps the club could reach out to local promoters like Tactics Productions, Parade of Flesh or Spune and add some much-needed variety to its concert calendar.

Hailey's Club
Hailey's used to be what Dan's Silverleaf is now. It's the place in Denton where mid-level national acts perform rather than going all the way to Dallas. The vibe at Hailey's is fantastic -- plenty of room, great beer on tap and good sound -- it's just that there's no reason to go anymore. Gone are the days when bands like The Walkmen, The French Kicks and School of Seven Bells performed. Even a recent attempt at booking Here We Go Magic and John Oates fell flat. It would be sad to see a great venue like Hailey's go the way of the college dive bar, but it looks like it's heading there fast.

Verizon Theatre
I've seen some fantastic shows over the years at Verizon Theatre, but each time I've had to shell out $20 to park my car and the cost of a premium import six-pack of beer for a Budweiser in a plastic bottle. Even if they cut their prices in half it would be too much. A date there could easily cost over $100, very difficult for a hundredaire such as myself. Or you could do the same thing at Dada for $20.

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25 comments
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Rick N Roll
Rick N Roll

Where's the Granada on this list?The sound at Granada is woeful.

Jeff D
Jeff D

Yes it is true several venues in this town need to step it up in order for us to have anything like the days of yore and the more diverse and interesting acts that oddly seem so often to do Austin , Houston, even Denton and pass us over.  On the other hand, its not just the clubs, and not their fault they can pay their bills with an AC/DC cover band instead of having three people standing in the room for a more artistically satisfying performance. Radio needs to help, (KXTA is on the right track) , bands need to do more than just sent Tweets and show updates on Facebook (I swear it not a good place for art and music, and people are realizing it finally, its for lazy small talk), venues need to respect your time and tell you who is playing when (like Granada)  and people have to be interested. There needs to be more creativity in the events planned and I think that is happening. A support Good Records for god's sake. If that place goes down Dallas is doomed for new music. Which is insane for a metro area this size.

glo vader
glo vader

House of Blues, the host of midget wrestling, denied me entry last month because I was wearing Vibram shoes (the shoes with separate toes). It's understandable that a classy establishment like this would demand that you keep all five toes in one slot. 

Jim
Jim

There is a workaround to the $20 parking at Verizon but it requires a 5 minute or so walk, which we know is not looked upon favorably in this town.

Colin B
Colin B

Couldn't be more right on about Curtain Club/ Liquid Lounge. BOTH rooms sound amazing, BOTH rooms have an upstairs viewing area. Let's not forget the patio either. If you've ever played there you know the FOH sound is awesome and Whit who runs the joint is a total sweetheart. I can't agree with anyone who thinks that this club doesn't pigeonhole itself with their bookings. Regardless of genre, I see the same bands and people there all the time. And as a business owner it's great to have repeat customers. But come on, there is a whole other world out ther that doesn't even know this place exists. They shut themselves off to sooo many different segements of the music market. Tactics needs to book some shows there and get some new blood through those doors.

Hil
Hil

There's lots of places doing some pretty kick ass free shows these days.  Even in uptown.  The Common Table has Frontier Ruckus, Phil Pritchett & The Growlers all coming up, all for free.  New sound system too.  Hard to bitch about music venues/prices when places that have solid free shows don't get supported as well as they should.  Just sayin...

TVZ fan
TVZ fan

Worked at Verizon the first year and a half when it opened as NextStage. Acoustics are great but the concession prices were over the top from day one. Main reason, the overhead in that place is ridiculous! The enormous cost to operate the facility has to be offset somewhere and part of that is accomplished with outrageous parking rates and concession prices.

paul
paul

John Mclaughlin is greatness and Yellow Dub is good but all in all HOB restautant included is heading down shut down ave

M1405pd
M1405pd

house of blues sucks.

Me 2
Me 2

"Great sound. Great sight lines. Great lighting. Aside from drink prices, it's a pretty immaculate music venue." 

That was all a joke, right? Add to that the fact that for some reason, regardless of who is playing, HOB tends to mostly attract people who aren't really there to see the band, and you have a venue that you *hope* your favs don't pick when they come through town.

Ok, maybe the balcony is good if it's a sit-down type of show.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

You're not being entirely fair to Curtain Club.  I know for a fact that they've hosted old-school goth (Ending The Vicious Cycle) and burlesque shows (Broads and Panties).  It's not just wall-to-wall hard rock.

splunk
splunk

The Commotion, Mad Mexicans, House Harkonnen, the Spazzmatics from LA, Scary Cherry and the Bang Bangs, One Red Martian....I don't consider these bands to be relentless hard rock perse and they are all playing in the space of a month over there. Nice praise for the sound though, I think they have one of the better sounding venues in Dallas. 

Pep
Pep

Great write-up, thanks. I think it's our duty to be critical and support/not-support local venues. Some do it right, some suck.

I have always had major problems with Palladium; lines, cost, fees, 30 minutes for beer, space itself, test-tube shots. But it is a shame about The Loft, it was my little chill place to see some good acts. They've lost some good bookers and are now just sucking at the corporate teat of Gilley's/Paladium.

HOB is a head-scratcher too. I don't mind it; it's open, clean, great sound, can get a drink in a matter of seconds typically and it's well-ventilated. Just rarely ever care to see anything there.

Verizon - I usually go begrudgingly but end of enjoying it b/c I go in being so negative. For certain acts you're going to have to pay that $35+ plateau and it can be nice to have an actual seat. The stadium style seating is pretty much awesome in those first sections in front. Sound is good and banks like MMJ can really utilize it.

Pep
Pep

good god, lot's of typos on there. need some coffee...

Minniedamoocher
Minniedamoocher

It seems to me that the criterion being used here is if the venue books bands that you like (that is, indie bands).  That seems fair.

jon from TJs
jon from TJs

 I would put small side of prophet bar on this list - great space, great size for interesting bookings, but they do so little to promote themselves.

a venue that does a great job of booking but never gets any promotion - The pearl @ commerce.

Evan
Evan

The Loft is boned by Gilley's going corporate. Before, they had a lot of leeway in booking acts and could take a little bit of risk with what they put in there. Then something happened, and it's all AEG/Live Nation events or nothing. If I'm not mistaken, this had a lot to do with the spawning of Tactics Productions. Shame that one of the best views in Dallas is rarely seen anymore, though.

You're absolutely right about Curtain - the sound is fantastic and the venue has tons of history. And yet, they've had nothing but hard rock (and Afton - have they told those guys to fuck off yet??) for years.

And Verizon is beyond hope. I won't go to another show there ever, so let's hope they step down their game and just not book anyone I care about seeing.

Jon Boy
Jon Boy

One could also call out the Observer itself for resorting to lists like these rather than real writing, to shill pageviews for PAT GREEN AND THE REAL TEXAS FESTIVAL!

keep up the good job guys!

Darrylrs
Darrylrs

I agree with you Daniel, but one has to ask HOB what they make off the cover bands. The list is endless and they wouldn't book them if the venue wasn't making money. And The Loft has booked some great shows in the past, from old school punks like the adolescents to cool indie shit like Akron Family. What happened?About Verizon, just call the marketing people and they will give you a free parking pass.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Alejandro Escovedo in 2011 at HOB foundation room. Thursday night. 50 people, of which 1/2 don't know who the fuck he is and are yakking at the back of the room

Alejandro Escovedo in 2012 at The Kessler. Thursday night. 350 people, almost all of whom are listening and having a great time.

Kelly D
Kelly D

Gotta think that the Lofts decline has something to do the formation if Tactics, which meant Kris Y, and Nate Binford left the palladium complex. It's not a coincidence that Trees and The Prophet Bars bookings have become more diverse and higher quality.

got80s
got80s

Thanks, we've been workin our butts off to bring some fun shit to Deep Ellum. -Brad of Tactics

me
me

totally agree with all of the above. nothing to add or argue with.

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