The Nine Best Unconventional Music Venues in DFW

Categories: Best Of

Photo by Jerry McClure
"Decks in the Park" at Klyde Warren Park
Thousands of years ago, primitive man performed their music near the campfire. Flash forward some thousand more years, and the "live show" (for most of the time, just the only way you could hear music) was later housed in churches or the castles and courtyards of the Renaissance age. Flash forward more to the thousands of blues and jazz clubs, rock venues and corporate sponsored arenas, and today the live music setting is remarkably homogeneous.

But there some places that still offer a genuine surprise of live music event. Here are some of the best in North Texas, the ones that afford you the chance to see your favorite band from behind a film screen or from the comfortable confines of your floaty tube in the middle of the Trinity River.

Unorthodox venues sparsely dot all over the DFW map, and while some of them range from outdoor park settings to DIY restaurant floor spaces, each is unique in its own way. Here is a list of some of the more atypical venues throughout DFW that may be of some interest to those who seek adventure outside of what's behind your usual venue's door.

Photo by Luke McGlathery
A packed house at The Where House.

9. Where House, 2510 Hemphill Ft. Worth 76110

A modest brick building located on Hemphill street in Ft. Worth houses a growing interest amongst local artistic enthusiasts and DIY-ers. Any type of local venue that runs on the sweat and hard work of basically one dude and some volunteers in a giant warehouse facility is going to be unconventionally attractive.

"The Where House is unique for a thousand and one reasons. The most prominent in my mind is its drive to fit the need of the community," says owner Casey Smith. Also, the back lot features such amenities as half-pipes or mechanical bulls, depending on the occasion.

Best show in the last year: The Kopecky Family Band

Photo by Aaron Ortega
Taqueria Pedritos. Tacos and grindcore.

8. Pedritos, 4910 Capitol Ave. Dallas 75203

For obvious reasons, local acts ranging from hardcore to experimental coupled with Dallas' quaint little taqueria serving authentic Mexican tacos is what makes this restaurant venue an ideal choice for a show off the beaten track. Jesse Fuentes, a local musician involved with several bands, stopped by one day on a whim, and saw an opportunity that could create a new blip on the map in the virtually non-existent DIY scene in Dallas. There's an equal exchange between the business owners and the music community, as there is no charge for use of the venue, and the shows themselves helps increase revenue for this humble mom and pop taqueria. "For me that's one of the best things about it, the fact that we're benefiting what we need to do for our own musical community, and these guys, they [get more] business," says Fuentes. Although live music has existed at Pedrito's for years, primarily folk, the hardcore scene has made itself at home.

Best Show in the Last Year: Kill the Client

Photo by Shil Patel
Death Cab for Cutie plays an in-store performance at Good Records

7. Good Records, 1808 Lower Greenville Ave.Dallas 75206

An in-store performance at Good Records is tailor-made for intimacy and stripped-down presentation. But not always, as Co-Owner/Manager, Chris Penn admits, sometimes the shows are almost as packed as any regular venue show. "In-stores serves as a great appetizer to the venue show later that night to get folks excited about that and heighten awareness of the show and the band's latest musical release," says Penn. The first show held at the original location, featured Brainiac, where member Rick Lee unplugged his guitar, ventured out onto Good Latimer Street, and came back just in time to finish the song with the band. While Good Records does most of the booking for in-store performances, some bands reach out to them looking for a gig. "We had Death Cab for Cutie play on their second album tour," says Penn. "They reached out to us as they couldn't find a show in town. My how times have changed."

Best Show in the Last Year: Black Joe Lewis

Photo by David Worthington

6. The Kessler Theater, 1230 W Davis St. Dallas 75208

Intimacy, a quality not too many bars on any given weekend can guarantee, and something that is certainly lost in an arena setting, is not just one aspect that makes The Kessler unique. Its history as everything from movie theatre to church to sweatshop make it decidedly unconventional. "Our focus is on nuance," says Artistic Director Jeffrey Liles, "instead of pounding you over the head with volume, we want to be the one place in town where an artist can walk onstage and sing in a delicate whisper." Modesty and a focus on personal attention makes The Kessler Theater unique.

Best Show in the Last Year: The Residents

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