This weekend, the minds behind The Double Wide are planning a seriously fucking epic party to celebrate 11 years of bringing trailer-trash kitsch and a lot of great bands to Exposition Park. Outside of the fact that they've gotten permission from the City of Dallas to host their party across two entire city blocks, owner Kim Finch and marketing manager Jessica Luther have put together one hell of a bill to celebrate the occasion.
In the past few months, Finch and Luther have been putting in countless hours to put together a seriously monster bill. Enigmatic psych rock legend Roky Erickson is headlining the night, but only after a relentless search to find the biggest and best acts to celebrate Doublewide's birthday. "We knew we wanted to go harder than we ever had in the past," says Luther. "We probably spent a few weeks just bouncing band names back and forth. I would send Kim a name, and she would come back and say, 'They're not big enough.'"
In Erickson, they knew they had found their perfect, "big enough" act. Once his appearance was worked out, the two luckily stumbled into booking High On Fire, a San Diego "stoner metal" band. "It was a friend-of-a-friend type deal," says Luther. "I was able to book it directly because we had a connection with the drummer. That set the precedent for how big this event was going to be."
The addition of the Derailers and local act Riverboat Gamblers rounded out the evening in the most Double Wide-style way as possible.
According to Finch and Luther, Double Wide is really committed to hosting a diverse crop of acts, which is pretty evident if you know anything about the aforementioned bands. "Double Wide is a really eclectic venue, and we wanted to represent all of those genres -- metal, rock, country, local -- on our bill," said Finch. "So we reached out to the Derailers and decided to do a full-on headline bill."
Months before the bands were ever booked, The Double Wide underwent a much-needed facelift. Tattered upholstery was replaced with new (still vintage, though) fabric, and the other "things in a bar that get a lot of wear and tear" got spiffed up, like the patio and bar. The tornado that sat atop the building, a fixture of the Double Wide, had to be removed earlier this year because it stopped working, but they plan to unveil the new spinning tornado once the show is over on Saturday night.
"It's still the same kitschy Double Wide, just better. And there's more of it," says Finch. The expected crowd quickly outpaced the capacity for the bar's music venue, so they opted to build a stage outside in the alleyway behind Double Wide. Fortunately, there's a huge open lot behind the stage for the crowds to gather. Tickets to the event have been selling furiously online, but the Double Wide assured that there would be tickets available at the door on Saturday.
The impressive response to the show has as much to do with the community surrounding the Double Wide as it does the music. For the past 11 years, the Double Wide has served as a necessary community fixture, one where people of all kinds and fans of all genres can intermingle. In making the changes, Finch was careful to preserve the kitschy atmosphere, knowing how important it was to the community.
"We wanted to keep the vibe the same, and we still have that old side-bar look, but now it's intentional. It's not just things being tattered and torn up," says Luther. "It still looks like you're in a trailer home, but we upgraded things that needed to be upgraded."
Outside of the physical changes to the bar, Finch also made a few controversial decisions in the past year that could have altered that sense of community, like canceling the wildly popular Good Luck Karaoke nights. Good Luck Karaoke built a devoted following in Dallas, and plenty of fans weren't pleased when Finch announced that they had "fired" Good Luck Karaoke last April.
Even though she issued a statement in April that the popular weekly event was cancelled due to "customer complaints regarding a lack of professionalism, a growing and noticeable drop in attendance and sales, and his consistent refusal to hear or heed constructive criticism," there are ultimately no hard feelings. "We were having problems with sound, and we wanted to take it in a different direction. The group [from Good Luck Karaoke] didn't want to go in that direction," said Luther.
In reality, neither Finch nor Luther could recall much backlash after Good Luck Karaoke was cancelled, and even if they had, they still felt that it was the best decision for their bar. "In the bar business, you're going to piss someone off," said Finch. "If we ran our business to cater to everyone and make everyone happy, we'd never do anything." Now, almost six months later, they're hosting Smackdown Karaoke, a wrestling-themed karaoke night where the winner receives a championship belt. By all accounts, this event is just as popular as its predecessor.
Now that the kinks are worked out and the bar has an upgraded look, Finch and Luther are ready to party with the loyal fans that have made the Double Wide so successful over the last 11 years, and they're much more focused on building a better future for their bar than reminiscing about the past.
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"Our anniversary party coming up is going to be the biggest, baddest thing we've ever done," said Luther. "It's hard to look back when we're looking forward to this thing. Booking this show has been an adventure in itself."
THE DOUBLE WIDE 11TH ANNIVERSARY with High on Fire, Roky Erikson, the Derailers and Riverboat Gamblers takes place on Saturday, October 4 at Double Wide, 3510 Commerce St. $28