Denton's Macaroni Island Will Be Forced to Close Later This Year

MIchael Briggs is going to have to say goodbye to his beloved Denton house venue
MIchael Briggs is going to have to say goodbye to his beloved Denton house venue
Stanton J Stephens

Michael Briggs had a bad feeling about this. Four days ago, he received the somber phone call that would ultimately bookend the lifespan of his beloved house venue, Macaroni Island. When news broke yesterday, Denton was stunned at the thought of this staple of the DIY community going silent after more than three years of operation.

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To quickly answer the question on everyone's mind: The forecast is bleak for Briggs being able to continue hosting shows at a new space. The current house managed to miraculously fill Briggs' need for a studio while also having the right layout for a live venue -- and he doubts the possibility of finding a similar arrangement.

The reason for the unexpected change in occupancy was, in truth, no one's fault but fate. Briggs intended to renew his lease on the house for two additional years as the July deadline approached. But when he made this request, he discovered December would be the longest lease extension he could receive due to plans to refurbish the house prior to selling the property.

"I freaked out," he says frankly, recalling the moment days later. "Since it happened I've managed to calm down, but it really just hit me all at once."

In sorting through this unexpected detour, Briggs wants to make sure that his studio, Civil Recording, finds a home first. That may be hard enough on its own as it requires an elusive intersection of requirements to be met.

"It needs to be in a tolerant neighborhood," he explains. "They can't be troubled by the noise, they can't live too close in proximity. And I need a large workspace with wood floors -- not carpet or tile. And hopefully affordable, too."

The mere idea of beginning this search, Briggs admits, has weighed on him heavily, and further reminds him how Macaroni Island represented a surreal, sans-pasta paradise.

And though there were heartbreak emojis posted and various curses made to irresponsible deities, a unifying message resonated underneath. Taking a step back, it's astounding to survey the empire that Briggs helped build with the simplest building blocks. Originally, he just wanted a space to set up his studio -- but instead he ended up creating a home for hundreds of DIY Dentonites.

Briggs' foremost intention in hosting shows was to provide a stage for bands while avoiding becoming a "party house" that edged out the musicians. So, he adopted the ideology of Fort Worth's 1919 Hemphill: He sought to make a safe space for music fans to watch bands without fear of potential drunken altercations.

And though Macaroni Island is BYOB, only in extremely rare cases did Briggs worry about the decorum of Denton patrons through its tenure. In fact, their track record boasts the nigh impossible: In three years, only one person has puked on his couch, which is all you can ever ask for, right?

Cade Bundrick, founder of fellow Denton house venue Gatsby's Mansion, says his first experience at any DIY show in North Texas was at Briggs' venue.

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Bundrick regards the space with profound sentiment -- a space where his formative years were defined by the good-natured humans who frequently lined the walls of Briggs' garage. And in his own experience playing and watching shows there, the house aided in shaping the venue he would eventually form.

"Macaroni Island will forever go down as the backbone of the Denton DIY community," Bundrick says. "The influence Michael has made on the community will be evident in the future venues to come and the bands yet to form."

The last scheduled show, set to take place in November, already has 500 people marked to attend -- and Briggs is already getting a bit wary. He's booked Two Knights, a band almost synonymous with the venue and one of Briggs' favorite acts of all time, to send Macaroni Island to the breakers. And while he couldn't be happier with the choice, the final show itself may yet prove an unruly beast.

"Imagine if our final show was finally the one when the cops busted us?" he muses, wryly. "I mean, me can probably fit 100 people in here at the most. It'd almost be fitting to get shut down like that, but I'd want the show to at least finish first."

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