The thing about house venues is that they're always more interesting than public ones. Idiosyncrasies are the décor. Little trinkets here, deliciously askew lighting there -- tonight it's horror film reds and greens, like watermelons and glow sticks. The colors spill through the windows, out onto the creaky deck and secondhand furniture. Out there it's pleasant and genuine, a stew of laughter, chatter and shuffling shoes. Smoke curls through the air, glass clanks occasionally. In here, inside Two Bronze Doors where music is happening, it's equally pleasant, only more alive.
Shelves frame the room, everything from stock leather-bound encyclopedias to small collections of poetry: a Pocket Poet Series edition of Ginsberg's Howl sits center shelf, just so. Small vintage photos can be spotted throughout the room. A lean pitch-black dog makes squiggles around onlookers. There's a band called Trái Bo up front and they're just now starting to play
Their sound is uncluttered, that transparency of form that you see in most neo-beach rock outfits, only more textured and less melodic. There's a certain measure of East coast prep-school pop in the mix as well; they even have the Ezra Koenig digs to match. Occasionally, the band takes a left turn into a flourish of noise, like one of Thurston Moore's surprise atonal bursts (static reverb, dub effects, etc). Trái Bo's rhythm section is especially strong, making the boys' rare explorations in chaos all the more satisfying.
Next up is Denton's Dome Dwellers and half their band is a chorus of pedals; I counted over 12. The timbres are much like those of Trái Bo, only here the structures are more fluid, heavy on echo sustains and other sonic tricks.
Intermission affords me the opportunity to find drinks. It's during a visit to the kitchen's donation bar that I run into Two Bronze Door's gallerist/owner Natalie Jean Vaughan. Outgoing and forthright, Vaughn begins telling me about the venue. The name, it seems, is a reference to the design competition for the construction of the doors for the Florence Baptistery; it was one of the first recorded "call for artists,: an event that served as a precursor to the Renaissance.
"What we want is a platform for local artists to come and explore what it means to be a working artist, to share with the community and get your feet wet if your resume isn't that elaborate," Vaughn explains. "Two Bronze Doors is completely DIY. We are not a fancy gallery space or seasoned venue. But it's exactly what it should be: a place for trial and error with a freedom to explore ideas and, most importantly, a space where the artists meet the public to construct and manifest their own reality."
Before too long Vaughn's fiancé Jonathan Foisset (2BD's gallery director) slides up. He's a bubbly individual, friendly and wordy. He speaks on 2BD's poetry workshops; the house also doubles (triples?) as a recitation space for budding beats, surrealists and other such wordsmiths.
2BD has been operating as a gallery/venue/literary workshop since April. Before Vaughn and Foisset moved in and began renovations, the space belonged to a psychic who operated her business out of the very same house. Whether the two are connected or not, rumors have it that the 2BD's building is haunted, host to a legion of visitors other than those who come for the art, music and poetry readings. No doubt, this feature adds a certain depth of charm to 2BD's personality.
Back outside, strings of lights snake around everything and lush trees blanket the yard in leafy cover. There's a flavor of another time at 2BD, say 1968 -- a glimpse of an era when ideas seemed to move more freely and America had yet to lose its small-town allure. The groaning wooden boards, outdoor house cat and classic architecture all help that mood, as does the wet-warm air that hangs equally outside and in.
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In these ways, 2BD is something of a counterpoint to fellow DIY curator Art Peña's visceral, anywhere-anytime approach. 2BD is no less relevant, mind you. In fact it's equally essential to our music and arts community. It just falls into the more fey, lit-heavy spectrum of DIY -- the Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell to Peña's Lou Reed.
Revisiting our discussion on 2BD's namesake Vaughn elaborates: "We wanted to see our own Renaissance here in Dallas and that's where the name Two Bronze Doors came from."
She finishes, "I think now it's safe to say that a renaissance is, in fact, happening."
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