Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill Looks to Shake Up Local Music in Its Second Year
Gas Monkey's owner Richard Rawlings and general manager Alex Mendonsa
The combination of motorheads, good food and great live music probably is probably, well, music to some peoples' ears, and it's one that has worked really well for the brains behind Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill. Outside of serving some really stellar brisket and other delicious food, Gas Monkey has quickly become one of the city's stand-out music venues, hosting monster acts like Hank Williams III, Marshall Tucker Band and the Sword.
"We initially discused doing a few shows a month, and then once we got into it, we quickly realized we wanted to do more than that," says Gas Monkey general manager AlexMendonsa. "And then we decided we wanted to kick ass and do as many shows as we can."
Their goals may have been ambitious, but Mendonsa and talent buyer Peter Ore both feel like the first year at Gas Monkey exceeded everyone's expectations, both in terms of what they were able to accomplish at the restaurant and the impressive calendar of acts that have taken their stage. Mendonsa attributes this success to the fan-and-band oriented approach that his team has taken in booking acts.
"Music fans are savvy enough to know when something cool is happening," says Mendonsa, "and they definitely know when they're being price-gouged on tickets and drinks." In their efforts to make their venue as friendly for fans as possible, GMBNG offers free on-site parking for fans, and has avoided the massive service fees that most ticketing outlets charge fans by using Ticketfly.
Figuring out how to best use the space at Gas Monkey has taken some careful planning, however. The outdoor stage is perfect for spring and fall concerts, but rain-outs initially presented a challenge, which is why the venue had a custom tent built around the stage, complete with heaters for chilly winter nights. As a result, the venue has only had one show completely rained out over the past year.
Perhaps more importantly, they've also worked extremely hard to make sure that bands really enjoy playing their venues. "Our acts know that we're going to take care of them," says Mendonsa. In the past year, there has really only been one major snafu: The booking of David Allan Coe. Back in July, Coe was slated to perform at GMBNG, only to arrive and demand additional fees for playing outside. "He tried to blackmail us for more money," says Ore. He doesn't mince his words on the matter, either: "'Don't book David Allan Coe' has really been our biggest lesson of the year. He's a lying scumbag."
The next year is looking even more exciting for Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill, especially as they plan to launch a brand-new music venue, Gas Monkey Live. It will be located across the street from GMBNG in the former Toby Keith's I Love This Bar space. The new venue is an entirely indoor space, which is much more conducive to hosting large shows during the summer or inclement weather. According to talent buyer Peter Ore, this highly-anticipated expansion comes at a time when they're looking to provide a more diverse calendar of music options to fans in the city.
"We want to do more volume, bigger scale, in a bigger venue," says Ore. With a 2,500-person capacity, Gas Monkey Live fits into a range that few other venues in the area are big enough to accommodate. "If we can have seven shows a night at both places, that would be awesome. There would be worse problems to have."
Gas Monkey Live hosts its first show this Saturday
Hitting a larger capacity wasn't the only goal that management had in mind when they started pulling together the plans for GML, though. "We looked around at what other venues in the city were lacking, and it was really technology," says Mendonsa. "There haven't really been many upgrades at these places in terms of sound, lighting, and video options."
Thus, the plan is to "come in hot" with a venue that provides top-tier lighting and a sound system that will "literally blow your clothes off." They've also added multiple video walls for bands to use, including a massive 11 by 30-foot video screen along the back wall. They've booked a seriously epic group of bands in the first couple of months, starting Social Distortion's grand opening this Saturday and also including Mötley Crüe and Tech N9ne in the near future.
"We want to reestablish the live music experience," says Mendonsa. "People expect to pay $10 for a beer, expect the bouncers to be rude and not helpful, and we wanted to change that. We want to bring hospitality back to live music, and I think our customers appreciate that."
SOCIAL DISTORTION play with the Stone Foxes and Jonny Two Bags at 8 p.m., Saturday, October 11 at Gas Monkey Live, 10110 Technology Blvd., $30/$35 at the door
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