By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Y'know, it really is true: You don't know what you've got till it's gone. And, boy, has that old adage been rearing its ugly head at Red Blood Club recently.
Well, with a twist. Seems this much is true too: You only appreciate what you've got when you know it's going away. Since announcing almost two weeks ago via a MySpace blog post that its near-decade-long run would soon end, the Red Blood Club has seen an uptick in attendance. Just this past weekend alone, the club saw as much of a crowd as it had in the previous four months combined, says bar manager Josh Peek.
Bittersweet success? Yep.
"It sucks that we have to close for people to come out," Peek said last Saturday, as the night came to a close at the venue's boisterous, second-to-last show. "I've been getting dozens of e-mails every day with people saying that this was their home away from home. I have no idea who any of them are."
Nostalgia seekers? Maybe. Some of them probably came before Peek's time. He's only worked at the Red Blood Club for the past eight months. But he'd been there plenty during that time.
"Probably six or seven of those months, I was here six days a week," he said. "And the last two months, I was here every day. I spend all my time here. I don't have a social life. These are my friends."
The ones he recognized are, at least. Saturday night saw a pretty packed crowd at Red Blood Club—about 120 people paid to get in during the course of the five-hour show. Originally, it was supposed to be the club's final hurrah, until ownership decided to keep things open a bit longer, prolonging the inevitable. Can't blame 'em for that: There's finally a crowd attending this somewhat hidden Commerce Street venue.
Still, for most, last Saturday's show was the final one they'll ever see at the venue. This upcoming Saturday night's event is expected to be more of a party, a get-together. Sure, bands will be performing in the garage-like room's corner stage, but for the most part, it will be a gathering of old friends and employees, people reminiscing on the past nine or so years of the club's existence.
Last Saturday, though? That was for the kids, mostly. And they sure partied like it was the club's final blow.
"I want you to do stuff here that you've never done here before," 22-year-old Riley Gale, vocalist for local hardcore act Balls Out, begged the crowd at the start of his band's set, the last of the night. "Fuck, smoke, drink, whatever you want."
And, when his band broke into a ragged, but recognizable, take on the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right," mayhem let loose. Beach balls, blow-up pool toys, toilet paper and confetti littered the air; bodies lunged in every direction; crowd members jumped onstage only to immediately dive right back off and into the welcoming arms of the other fans; someone dressed in a hot dog Halloween costume flashed in and out of the pile. There were dog piles, bloody noses, chipped teeth and bodies shoved to the floor. But, most important, there were smiles.
The night managed to steer clear of the problems a show like this could have seen. The space didn't get trashed like Peek, the bar manager, openly feared it would. At the end of the night, the bar's neon lights remained intact. So did its bathrooms.
In fact, the show featured everything a thriving scene entails. There were talented performers—Balls Out, Lie & Wait and Power Trip especially impressed, offering impassioned takes on the genre instead of relying on the old chugging bass and guttural vocal formula—and scattered about the audience were scene veterans, enthusiastic newcomers, and yes, even parents who brought their preteen children out to see the spectacle that they'd once been a part of in their own youth.
It was a fitting, if unanticipated, end. And it's easy to see why the crowds were so supportive. With this venue's closing comes a pressing question: If not here, where?
Much like it is in other cities across the country, Dallas' hardcore scene is dying: Red Blood Club's own attendance figures prior to this weekend prove as much. And while last Saturday night was filled with wishful rumors about where the shows the venue had speculatively booked to its stage would find their homes, no one could say for certain how things would shake up.
"I've been getting that question for the past week and a half," said Peek. "Hell, I dunno. I don't even now what I'm gonna be doing."
Bar of Soap, The Double Wide, Reno's Chop Shop Saloon and even The Granada's names have been tossed around as potential new homes, but on this night, no one could say for certain that any of these venues had confirmed their share of picking up Red Blood Club's load.
"A lot of it's just gonna get fucked because there aren't a lot of all-ages clubs left," Peek said. "Some of it will probably end up at The Door. There's really nowhere else. The next couple of months are really gonna be a struggle until someone finds a niche and makes their mark."