If I close my eyes tight enough, I can almost still picture it, even though it's almost been a decade. I am fifteen years old and feeling very close to heat stroke, so I lean against the wall. Even that feels labored, because I'm standing on such a sharp incline. I'm on the load-in ramp off the side stage at Red Blood Club, where the boys liked to put all of us younger girls for safe keeping, out of the mosh pit's way. The bassist for Will To Live is about five feet to the right of me, and I'd be hearing most of their set through his monitor if my ears weren't ringing. I have seen them before, so I squeeze my way to the front patio entrance where the free water jug sits like an oasis. It's cold and icy, but offers little relief in the dead hundred degree heat of Dallas summertime. I can still see the long wrought iron aisle that funneled into the patio from the front entrance. I can still see streets rubbled with half finished construction, but no equipment or bulldozers, any sign it would ever be completed, The buildings all looked run down and deserted. Everyone was running from the neighborhood before they got cut off at the knees. The punks were among the last hold outs.
Six years ago, Dallas lost its haven for punk, metal, and hardcore shows at 2617 Commerce Street. This spring, it reopens in the same location (which was formerly occupied by Tucker Blues after Red Blood Club shut it's doors). Here are five things you need to know.
1. Before it closed six years ago, Red Blood Club was Dallas' home for underground hardcore, metal, and punk. Bands like Damage Case, Jizz and the Jerkoffs, The Residuals, Unit 21, Jump Boys, Balls Out, Hands Of The Few, and many more often frequented the stage at Red Blood. The club also brought through national touring acts like The Briefs, Terror, Municipal Waste, Ceremony, and more. Power Trip, who Fucked Up's Damian Abraham recently called the best hardcore band in the world right now (on stage in Dallas for a Red Bull Sound Select Show), played one of their earliest shows on the last night that Red Blood Club was open in 2008.
2. The beginning of the end started with a stabbing. After a November 2007 stabbing at Red Blood Club, the city imposed restrictions upon the club's SUP permits. Specifically, they required RBC to hire additional security for shows running past 10 p.m. The extra cost was too much for owners (who had just taken over from previous management) to handle. Red Blood Club was suffering in it's final year, and the popular sentiment was that Dallas music fans were letting the punk/hardcore scene die from lack of support. After Red Blood Club closed, it ended up thriving in an era of great DIY venues like Denton's Extreme Dude's Manor and the Majestic Dwelling of DOOM.
3. Former Red Blood Club doorman Mike Rios is heavily involved with the club's reopening. Together Rios, Deep Ellum booker Michael Stock, and majority investor Tammy Moss (formerly of Reno's Chop Shop), originally had their hearts set on buying the old Galaxy Club, but the space is now occupied. Stock suggested Red Blood Club, and that the space had been vacant since Tucker's Blues had gone under there in late 2012. That's how we got to a reopening. Not everything, however, will be just like Red Blood Club glory days in the second coming.
4. The name on the new sign will read RBC, not Red Blood Club. "Everybody knew the name of the club was Red Blood Club, and called it RBC." says Rios, "this time around the name of the club actually is RBC."
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The current landlord at 2617 Commerce just so happens to be a member of the SUP committee. He advised Rios, Stock, and Moss that the name Red Blood Club wouldn't go over well with the city, who might think they were trying to reintegrate a seedy stigma into the neighborhood. Taking his advice, Rios says they submitted all paperwork for the property with the name, "RBC" which they swear is an abbreviation for rock, blues, and country. The RBC will expand beyond just the punk/metal/hardcore draw, as well. Rios plans to book blues during the week, national alternative and indie rock acts, Texas red dirt country, and more. This strategy will help them avoid what hurt Red Blood Club the most- relying too heavily on one niche audience to keep the lights on.
5. RBC will host a grand reopening March 21st. Spazm 151, Wild Tribe, Steel Bearing Hand, Sin Motivo, and Pissed Grave will take the stage for RBC's first night back. According to Rios, the festivities will continue for three more nights the bills to be announced in the coming weeks. Red Tide Rising, House of Harkonnen, Space Beach, and Duell are also booked for March 28th.