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Macaroni Island Has Its Last Hurrah This Weekend in Denton

Another one bites the dust. Denton will lose legendary house venue Macaroni Island this weekend. Well, on December 20 technically, but if you’re not scheduled to record with Michael Briggs between now and then — and are not one of the lucky 100 ticket-holders for Macaroni Island’s final show this Saturday — it’s essentially already closed.

News broke in May that one of the most reputable and long-running Denton DIY venues of recent years will be forced to close. Briggs’ decision was not of his own choosing, though: As he was trying to renew his lease for two more years, he found out that he’d have to be out of the house by this coming December. “I chose that house because it was suitable for both shows and for studio recording,” Briggs explains.

Fact is, the DIY scene in Denton is cyclical. This was not the first house venue and certainly will not be the last. Multiple generations of tenants at that same residence had thrown less-public house shows (I went to a few) before Briggs leased the place and called it Macaroni Island. Briggs had even been to a show at his house before it was, uh, his house.

“I knew that there had been shows here before, and the neighbors were cool,” Briggs says. He adds, solemnly, “House venues don’t last forever, and they aren’t intended to. They are always meant to change and evolve.”

Briggs has, however, played a huge part in the DIY scene. In addition to hosting numerous shows, he also records up-and-coming music acts. Civil Recordings, Briggs’ recording studio’s moniker, has found itself a new permanent residence in Denton. He currently records anywhere between two to three days a week, leaving the remaining days for the other elements of the end-to-end process (i.e., mixing and mastering) and, as he puts it, “struggling sometimes with recording too much and not being able to mix it.”

He is currently working with Denton’s blues punk band, New Science Projects, on their new album, supposedly coming out early next year. New Science Projects has been a staple in the musical offerings from Macaroni Island over the years, and will be playing their last show this coming Saturday.

Besides finishing up New Science Project's new album, Briggs is completely booked through the end of the year. Keeping his eye on the detail and organization behind it all, he says he “tries not to book two months out.” He just finished up recording albums for Whimper, Reiclone and Retirement Home. (Warning: It’s an actual band, not literally sounds from a retirement home.)

Briggs says he has recorded about 50 albums this year, full lengths and extended plays, and he plans on recording just as much if not more next year. Mimisiku, dubbed the Denton stoner-pop band, is said to release an album through Civil Recordings to come out early next year.

Although Briggs has his living arrangement and studio space lined up, he will no longer be hosting shows. Briggs will be focusing on recording, which he says “is priority.” So what does this mean for the community of DIY house show goers in Denton?

There are several open doors, actually. Gatsby’s Mansion, for one, along with Mold Spores, The Nest, Gay Cat Hell, The Lions Den, Pink Cactus, Casa de Fun Button and, of course Jagoe House. Despite being one residential venue down, the others are still booking shows. Mold Spores and Pink Cactus have shows scheduled for November 20, Casa de Fun Button has one on Saturday and The Lions Den has one scheduled for Sunday.

Another Denton house venue set to close at the beginning of next year, Casa de Fun Button, can feel the burn. “Lucky for us he's still recording some of the best up-and-coming musicians around,” Casa de Fun Button resident Zachariah Preston Walker says of Briggs. Although they are closing (aka officially moving out) on January 5, Walker says they are “working on finding a new CDFB soon.”

“Michael Briggs is a vital part of the music scene and culture in Denton,” says Walker. “Mac Island not only gave a place for local bands to get their feet on the ground but touring acts a cheaper, more intimate setting to share their music. Mac Island was a refuge for the arts as well with poetry slams and spoken word performances too. Although the house show circuit in Denton will live on, nobody could put on or curate a show with the passion, respect and professionalism shown by Mr. Briggs.”

With Macaroni Island’s last show coming up on Saturday, there were only 100 tickets available and those all “sold out” (they were free) within four minutes of going online. Briggs wants to really emphasize that if you did not get a ticket, do not show up. "[It] sucks we have to do that, but we cannot have several hundred people showing up," he says. "It wouldn't work in the neighborhood.”

Although the days of memorable house shows are behind him, Briggs will always carry the fond memories with him, like that time Blackie brought his own PA and created the loudest show to date, or the time the Appleseed Cast played in his home in 2013. At one point Briggs even became a certified deputy voter registrar, allowing Macaroni Island attendees the chance to sign up to vote while house-showing. What have you done for your community lately?

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