A Good Idea, But...

The Granada Theater as a live music venue only works in theory

We could ignore this, move on to something else for 800 or so words, make everyone happy. There are other things we could talk about. Say, Vanilla Ice (or V-Ice, as Robbie Van Winkle now refers to himself) and his new double-disc set, Bi-Polar, which finds him teamed up again with former manager Tommy Quon. We could talk about that, and it would be fun and easy. But we are not going to, and it's not just because the three-song sampler from Bi-Polar we just received in the mail includes the following: "Get Your Ass Up," "Hot Sex," "Tha Weed Song." Because Jesus, currently employed as Ice's co-manager, likes him some smoke, apparently.

At some point, we'll deliver the expected punch lines, and once again tell the story about putting V-Ice, who's playing at the Canyon Club on June 22, into a headlock outside an Elliott Smith show at Trees a couple of years ago. Promise. Just not right now. See, something's been bothering us for a month or so, and now's probably the best time to get it out in the open. In fact, we've probably waited about a month too long. So we'll just jump right in and worry about how cold the water is later.

To get everyone up to speed: Late last year, the Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue did away with its dinner-and-a-movie concept in favor of reimagining the circa-1940s theater as a multipurpose home to live performances, private parties, corporate events, whatever. It was to be a versatile venue that catered to anyone and everyone, the kind of place that might house a concert one night, a bar mitzvah the next, a Mavericks game on the big screen the night after that and so on. Only the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth (another out-of-luck movie house that smartly repositioned itself) would have the same type of facility, and the Granada would have a much better location. Because, you know, anywhere in Dallas is much better than being in Fort Worth. When we heard what was going on at the Granada, it sounded like a very Good Idea. Too many people seem to have such a narrow view of music in Dallas (specifically, that it only occurs between Good-Latimer and Malcolm X in Deep Ellum) that getting another concert hall outside the comfort zone had to be a good thing.

When the face-lift was complete, when the bandages were peeled away after six months or so of construction, the Granada certainly seemed to have succeeded. The new look featured an impressive stage flanked by three huge movie screens, a full kitchen and three well-stocked bars, a roomy backstage area and 1,100-seat capacity, all while retaining its original art deco flair. No problems there, really.

Well, except that the Granada's success as a live music venue exists only on paper. We're not referring to ticket sales; the theater is doing just fine in that respect, thanks to the talent being brought in: The Flatlandersplay there June 26, and Dolly Parton and Sonic Youth are scheduled for August. We don't mean putting on a show that people want to see. That's the easy part. We're talking about a show people can see. And hear, too, now that you mention it.

We're not trying to cut off anyone at the knees here. We're sure that the Granada is just fine for a wedding reception or a Power Point presentation, probably even a Cowboys game. But as a place to see a band? It's still a Good Idea, but unfortunately only in theory. We went to the inaugural gig--a Pete Yorn/Chomsky bill on May 14--and it was bad news from the first headline on down. Some of it could be attributed to a new venue working out the kinks, sure, but very little falls into that category. For example: Unless you're standing at the foot of the stage or the front row of the balcony, the band is reduced to a group of talking and singing heads. Would you call that a kink that needs to be worked out? The Granada folks would probably point out that's the reason why they simulcast the concert on the screens surrounding the stage. As far as we're concerned, that's kinda like watching a Rangers game on the scoreboard.

Plus, no matter where you are in the building--including onstage, from what we hear--the sound is similar to a car stereo with a blown speaker. That might be a kink, but who wants to sit around waiting for them to figure it out? Not us, but hey, knock yourself out. We could point out a few of the other missteps, and there are more than enough to keep us going for a while, but they don't really matter. After all, if you can't see or hear at a concert, why worry about the bar's awkward location or anything like that? Just leave.

 
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