DFW Music News

Granada Theater's First 10 Years: Our Favorite Memories

This month, the Granada Theater is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a music venue. It was then that Michael Schoder bought the then-movie theater and transformed it into the concert venue we know and love today. To help mark the occasion, we decided to pull together our favorite memories from the Granada throughout that first decade. We even collected the memories of some of the Granada's own staff, past and present. They aren't all concert memories, per se, but they're just the sorts of things that make the place so special.

Dillinger Escape Plan, 2010 Eric Grubbs, Observer contributor

The Granada is not the kind of venue that attracts a lot of metal bands, but the Dillinger Escape Plan isn't a standard metal band. Somehow, it was the perfect place for the mathy hardcore quintet as there was plenty of room to stand still and to mosh. They put on an excellent set, which was their second of four visits to the DFW area for the Option Paralysis tour, and the packed audience ate up the experience. Definitely one of the best sets from this band and it happened in, of all places, a beautifully restored theater.

Glass Candy, 2013 Aaron Ortega, Observer contributor

While the expectations of a substantial live performance of label mates Glass Candy and Chromatics is something you can pretty much set your watch to, what made their Granada appearance of 2013 special was the frenzy that took place in the foyer afterwards. The co-mingling between performer and fan is certainly not a rare occurrence; however, this was more a simple mobbing, an inevitable after-effect from a weary, adrenaline-fueled crowd. While most artists would just as soon disappear and recuperate, Johnny Jewel, having not only just performed back-to-back as an integral member of both acts, was at the enthusiastic center of it all.

Black Dahlia Murder, 2010 Andrew Hawkins, Observer contributor

My most memorable showgoing experience at Granada Theater was seeing the Black Dahlia Murder, Obscura, Augury and Hatesphere perform there in 2010 (all death metal bands, for the uninitiated). Granada has a fairly rarified air about it, so seeing throngs of long-haired, leather-clad, beer-guzzling dudes moshing in a venue where your friend's uncle probably watched a KXT-sponsored alt-country revue the night before was kind of surreal. It all felt kind of wrong, but that's part of the appeal of metal anyway, isn't it?

A.Dd+ boxing match, 2014 Gavin Mulloy, Trees marketing director

This was the second Dallas only Hip Hop Showcase at Granada, so I wasn't really sure how to differentiate it from the last one. Slim Gravy of A.Dd+ kept wanting to take it to the next level, like perform a song on top of the marquee with the crowd on the patio. I was really stuck on throwing a boxing ring on stage. I called around and thought I found an abandoned one but nothing panned out. Then Chris McDonald came to the rescue and contacted the Christian Wrestling Federation from Rockwall. Jesus literally saved the day. They were willing to bring it out, set it up and install it. We got a Rocky Balboa costume and the rest of the night was all set from there. When Slim and Paris ran down the Aisles, I knew it was all worth it.

The Goatacorn Mike Brooks, Observer photographer

My Granada remembrance is bittersweet. Like the last of the Mohicans or the final 10 pages of the Lord of the Rings, fans of the Granada got to see the passage of one of life's great mythological creatures: The Goatacorn. Long assumed to be a myth or a fantasy from a fairy tale, she emerged one enchanted evening to be part of the audience, then invited on stage, hobnobbing with amazed audience members in the alley and sharing awards at the DOMAs. Just as suddenly, she was gone, leaving us all with with a glimpse into a magical time that has passed from this world.

M83, 2012 Chris McDonald, Marketing manager

It's tough to choose just one favorite memory for the Granada. So many special moments for me both professionally and personally. Highlights ranging from the XX Dating Game to the Summer Mockbusters. However if I must choose one show, I'd go with M83 weekend in 2012. We were fortunate enough to snag M83 for two nights right at the pinnacle of Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. The crowd's roar after "Midnight City" is still the loudest audience reaction I've ever heard inside Granada. Anthony Gonzalez even started getting teary eyed. I still have the show posters hanging in my office. It was an incredible weekend.

Jeff Tweedy, 2007 Kelly Dearmore, Observer contributor

January 20, 2007 was an ugly day which bled into a dreary, cold grey night. Before the venue's friendly staff allowed us inside, the line snaked down Greenville for what seemed like a mile, but the anticipation amongst the throng was electric. Packed solid once inside, a long wait ensued, then a horribly dull, drawn out Scott McCaughey set threatened to derail it all. But once Jeff Tweedy came out with an acoustic guitar and mixed songs old ("I Am Trying to Break Your Heart") with new that would soon be on Wilco's Sky Blue Sky record ("Please Be Patient with Me,"), the earlier annoyances were forgotten. Hilariously grotesque banter with the crowd about how band names can often describe types of bowel movements (Widespread Panic!) made the night end even an weirder, and far more joyful, note than it had begun.

Calexico, 2013 Jeremy Hallock, Observer contributor

Calexico have never been able to capture the enormous and rich sound they had that night on a recording, not even on the live album they released just a couple months later. The seven-piece band crammed onto stage with countless instruments and played for two hours, mainly songs from their Algiers album. Steel guitarist Paul Niehaus, who also plays with Justin Townes Earle, sounded especially great that night and there were fabulous trumpets on some of the songs that really got the crowd excited. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen and, being fairly new to Dallas, it was the first time I realized how marvelous Granada Theater can sound.

The Walkmen, 2011 Darryl Smyers, Observer contributor

The recent demise of the Walkmen makes the memory of this show even more melancholy. The band had just released Libson, my personal favorite Walkmen album, and lead singer Hamilton Leithauser was in prime form throughout the show. The set list was impeccable as the high walls of the Granada reflected the cultured dissonance that had become the band's trademark. Indeed, I would see the Walkmen at the Granada again the following year, but this night's show was special. The band and venue became one in the service of sound and energy.

Gorilla Vs. Bear Fest Trang Nguyen, Granada promotions assistant and media coordinator

Four years since its inception and the recurring Gorilla vs. Bear showcase still remains my favorite event each year. The inaugural Gorilla vs. Bear Fest was a jammed-packed event from start to finish, an ambitious 10 act bill filled with notable acts like Grimes, whom you can't exactly catch in a midsize venue any more, Shabazz Palaces, and White Denim playing a set past 1am, one of the latest sets I've witnessed at our venue. Fast forward a few years and the showcase has grown to be a yearly staple. I always love family reunions because it's a once-a-year gathering of familiar faces and it's a generally exciting time. GvsB has essentially become that for me, just with several dance parties added.

Bonnie Prince Billy, 2009 Doug Davis, Observer contributor

My favorite show was almost certainly Bonnie Prince Bill and the Cairo Gang in 2009. In addition to having an incredible band with him -- Jim White on drums, Emmet Kelly on guitar, Will Oldham's brother Paul on bass, and a girl who had a voice like Iris Dement and played violin -- the way the show started was unique. The band played a rollicking mountain song for a good minute with the curtain down, passing vocals until each player had sung a stanza. By the time the curtain came up mid-song it felt like the audience was in the middle of a singalong in an Appalachian barn. Incredible from start to finish.

St. Vincent, 2007 Jaime-Paul Falcon, Observer contributor

My favorite Granada show of all time was also my first visit there. After college in Houston I returned to Dallas to find the beginnings of a booming music scene. One thing everyone agreed on was that recent ex-pat Annie Clark was going to be a star. St. Vincent had played to an almost empty venue in Houston earlier that year and I became an instant fan, so when I found out she would be performing at the Granada I knew I had to go. When we went in, I was a blown away. Houston didn't have anything remotely like the Granada; for a dude used to dingy clubs, it was unreal. Clark captured the crowd, and worked through her material with a smile on her face. Oh, and the National played. They headlined or something. That was cool as well.

Summer Mockbusters, 2014 Joe Overman, Granada marketing and promotions assistant

Hands down, I loved the first night of the Summer Mockbusters. Taking a comically bad, yet beloved movie like Space Jam and screening it for a theater full of people so they can make fun of it was the most amazing experience. That day was extra special for me because I had proposed to my fiancée that morning, after moving to Dallas from Denton. I didn't plan on that night being a culmination of so many big things for me, but that's just how they all fell in place.

Deerhunter, 2010 Matt Wood, Observer contributor

It was the first show I ever went to, and the performance of "Helicopter" gave me absolute chills. My first time seeing the Granada made it a defining moment, too; it was then I knew I would see many, many more shows here. Now, I've seen at least 20 bands at the place, which holds huge sentimental value for me and my girlfriend, who I went to that first show with and who I went with to my last show there, Black Lips, last week.

The Mayan Apocalypse, 2012 Anita Riot, Observer contributor

We started the night backstage where members of True Widow and TWDY were seated, sharing what could be their last smokes. Once the Angelus were through, we walked into a packed theatre. After True Widow's set, weighted with its usual gloom and almost disinterested malignancy, a video of an electric chair execution played on the big screen to the left of the stage. I watched in hallucinogenic horror as a sobbing criminal was strapped into his wooden throne and gauze taped over his eyes before his entire body revolted from electromagnetic assault. As shock waned, This Will Destroy You's crescendos carried everyone to the other side.

Blondie, 2011 Eva Raggio, Observer contributor

When Blondie came to Dallas in October of 2011, it wasn't just a chance to see the fabled Debbie Harry onstage, but also my first proper concert at the theater. I was close enough to the stage to discern the mosquito bite on Harry's ankle, and her feisty presence was magnetic. Like a vintage punk Barbie in mint condition, both singer and venue displayed inevitable wear and tear while still remaining painfully beautiful. After the show a small group of Blondie devotees gathered to catch a glimpse of Harry as she waved on her way to the tour bus. Then, with exquisite timing, the drummer following behind turned and bestowed on me a pair of his drum sticks.

Spiritualized, 2012 Ryan Henry, Granada talent buyer

Imagine yourself as a teenager or twenty-something, browsing through shelves and stacks of used CDs at the record store. Being so excited to discover Spiritualized for the first time. Now imagine your future self walks into that same used record store and taps you on the shoulder. You turn around to a balding, out-of-shape version of yourself. At least future you has a pretty decent beard compared to young, barely-there-goatee you. "You'll get to book that band one day, and many others" he says, and walks out the front door as mysteriously as he appeared. I don't know if past me would have believed future me, but I'm thrilled things worked out the way they did. Here's hoping for many more.

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