The 50-foot limestone angels trumpeting from the façade of Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth face a trio of venues hidden from the outside world. Hyena's Comedy Night Club is down a grand staircase on the right. There's a smaller stage next to it. And on the left is Queen City Music Hall, which opened earlier this year and is Fort Worth's biggest non-arena music venue. You could fit a couple hundred people on the sunken dance floor, and that's only a third of the available floor space. A few seating areas in the back are corralled off with thick metal handrails, which might give the place a rodeo feel if it weren't for the maroon carpet.
It's a little after 8 on a Friday night, and the first of four bands is on the stage, a Fort Worth singer with slick, desperate tunes straight out of the Top Gun playbook. He finishes his set and the crowd applauds politely, but then, from down on the dance floor, someone yells, oddly, "Do a cheer!" The singer, a thin guy with linen pants named Nathan Brown, relents and launches into a series of choreographed cheerleading routines, "Go, Fight, Win!" and that sort of thing, a grown man doing the claps and stiff-leg struts. He's got one about a pizza party, which slays. Everyone is laughing warmly and cheering now, no one louder than the guy who called for the cheers in the first place.