Chris Pickering has spent his last weeks sliding around the pieces for Austin-based band Beth Israel’s winding tour through the Southwest. But when it came time to book the band in North Texas, there was no question: It would be at Rubber Gloves, the venue he frequently played alongside Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage. Now on the booking side, he’s ready to help local bands unleash a new generation of garage rock harbingers on North Texas.
The show, on Saturday, boasts a four-band garage-rock bill lined entirely with Texan acts. Dallas’ own decorated veterans Party Static will be playing alongside Denton’s Bad Beats and No Touching to shake down every last wall at Rubber Gloves.
As Denton is wont to do, there’s an overlapping, multicolor venn diagram between the people involved in putting this show together. At the center of this eternally intersecting web, Savage and Pickering used to be in one of Denton’s cornerstone garage rock acts in 2007, Teenage Cool Kids, before they moved on to Parquet Courts and Future Punx, respectively, once they both moved to New York. After relocating, they also started their own label, Dull Tools, which put out Parquet Courts’ critically-lauded Light Up Gold in 2012.
Then they decided to sign Beth Israel to the label and Pickering help put them on the road. They’re starting out in their hometown of Austin, then Pickering is bringing them through Denton, up to Chicago and then New York, then down to Nashville and back to Dallas. As you might’ve already noticed, one of these cities is not quite like the other.
“Denton’s definitely got a special place in my heart,” Pickering says from New York. “I made sure they played Denton not only because I have the connections, but because I know how much fun a Denton crowd can be.”
Pickering's been on both sides of a Rubber Gloves show countless times. He remembers when he was growing up, he would drive down 380 with his brother for an hour to catch At the Drive-In or Jimmy Eat World. He even had his moment of clarity when he saw Centro-Matic play and realized that these artists weren't all from the mystical planet of Tralfamadore — they were forming in Denton, too.
“It was kind of an 'ah, ha!' moment for me," he says. "I saw what the local bands were doing and it made it way more accessible for younger musicians."
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Stage side, Pickering would either be DJing, playing with Teenage Cool Kids or even running sound at Rubber Gloves. On his most recent visit he came with his band Future Punx, and even in the short visit back to the city he quickly felt the city's ceaseless devotion to pushing the music scene.
“It was weird coming back that first time," he says. "It's constantly evolving in Denton, people come in and out. So when I came back and played, I saw all the new faces and I could tell that there's still kids making music and putting on these shows.”
Remnants of Teenage Cool Kids still echo among Denton musicians, and Philip Gage, guitarist for No Touching, remembers the band’s staggering influence in the garage rock scene when he saw them play in the city. Now that he's the one playing on stage, he says he can feel how musicians like Pickering have made an effort to bring their careers full circle by supporting their come-up. And if that come-up means a dive bar venue that defines a city's scene, all the better.