The 10 Best Metal Venues in Dallas-Fort Worth

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Since the days of Joe's Garage, North Texas' metal venues have hosted some groundbreaking local bands like Rigor Mortis, Pantera and Drowning Pool. Today, dozens of venues showcasing local and national metal acts can be found across North Texas, and when one disappears, two more take their place. To pay homage to these bar owners who put up with the mosh pit and the messy aftermath, here's a list of the 10 best metal venues in Dallas-Fort Worth to "let the bodies hit the floor."
10. Reno's Chop Shop

Bikers and metal just belong together. Richard Rawlings, owner of Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, understood this fact when he opened his bar. It's like french fries with ketchup, Coke with Jack Daniels, weed and Snoop Dog. Where better to catch a metal show and fall into a mosh pit with a bunch of outlaws who ride fiery steeds than at Reno's Chop Shop in Deep Ellum? It's the best biker bar in Dallas and offers live music every weekend. The staff is friendly and AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Guns N' Roses can often be heard when the live bands aren't playing. Christian McPhate

210 Crowdus Rd., Dallas, renoschopshop.com
9. Tomcats West

Located just on the other side of the highway from The Rail Club, this hidden gem is nestled in a shopping center of bars with patrons who look like they belong in a Quentin Tarantino movie. But don't let this threat of being mugged or shanked turn you away; metal isn't meant to be packaged pretty. Once inside, you'll find James McWilliams, one of the most notable sound guys in DFW, working the system. The mosh pits that erupt inside this small venue often involve just a few drunk people stumble-slamming until one passes out or vomits, but every once in a while a vibrant one reminiscent of the Tombstone Factory days appears. CM

3137 Alta Mere Dr., Fort Worth, tomcatswest.com
8. Curtain Club

Though this Main Street staple in Deep Ellum has hosted all kinds of musical acts over the years (from Centro-matic to Dick Dale), it's best known as a refugue for metal bands. Maybe not as big as the ones Trees draws, but it's the kind of place that brings bands that are hungry and wanting to put the time and effort in, especially local metal acts. The stage is spacious and the sound system is quite apt for metal shows, with plenty of high end for screeching guitars and oomph for bass guitars and kick drums. It's one of the few venues that survived Deep Ellum's dark times 10 years ago, and it's still going strong today.  Eric Grubbs

2800 Main St., Dallas, curtainclub.com
7. Three Links

Once known as "La Grange," Three Links in Deep Ellum hosts a larger stage, revamped sound system and more beer. Oliver Peck of Elm Street Tattoo is part owner and created an artistic décor — David and Goliath interpretations and owl-over-pyramid diagrams — that just feels metal. "This is more like your homie's buddy's friend's neighborhood hangout where you know who's running it, you know who works here, you're friends with everybody and it's way more relaxed and more inviting," Peck says in a recent Observer interview. The stage sits in the corner of the room, allowing a mosh pit to push out the back doors into the smoking area if it gets too large. It's the perfect place to watch young and old metalheads alike banging their heads to the "right rhythmic pattern." CM

2704 Elm St., Dallas, threelinksdeepellum.com
6. Trees

Don't let the name fool you. There are no tree-hugging hippies singing "kumbaya my lord" inside this large venue, only the best concerts for the diehard fan. Wes Scantlin of Puddle of Mudd's onstage meltdown in 2014 is just one of the finer examples. Some of the biggest names in music have found their way to this legendary stage, including Nirvana, Deftones and Tool. This world-famous venue has an upstairs VIP area that offers a comfortable lounge where people can mingle between sets and a downstairs bar that faces the stage, allowing fans who are less likely to enter a mosh pit an opportunity to listen to drunken renditions of their favorite metal song. CM

2709 Elm St., Dallas, treesdallas.com

5. House of Blues

Everyone knows the blues helped to kickstart the metal movement. The key of E is a favorite of Metallica's Kirk Hammett, and listening to the old blues masters' solos often mirrors the aggression felt at a metal show. So where better to catch a metal show than at the House of Blues? Bands such as Dethklok, Behemoth and Goatwhore all have put on some killer shows with massive mosh pits underneath the Voodoo eye's watchful hand. These offerings are just another aspect of the House of Blues' mission, which is "Dedicated to educating and celebrating the history of Southern Culture and African American artistic contributions to music and art." Just leave your cellphones at home if you're going to see Disturbed. CM

2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas, houseofblues.com/dallas
4. Southside Ballroom

Part of the world famous Gilley's Dallas, this legendary venue has showcased some phenomenal metal acts, including Lamb of God, HELLYEAH! and Slayer. It's also home of John Travolta's Urban Cowboy legacy. Four long bars that border the venue allow drinks to flow quicker and smoother, a large open area — more than 23,000 square feet — in front of the stage has formed some massive mosh pits. Despite a TABC probe after people reported teenagers were drinking and smoking marijuana at a Ghostland Observatory concert (shocking, I know), South Side Ballroom is still one of the best places to watch bands like Slayer paying homage to the thunder gods. CM

1135 S. Lamar St., Dallas, southsideballroomdallas.com
3. The Bomb Factory

A relative newcomer, having just reopened in 2015 after a 20-year hiatus from live music, The Bomb Factory is a frontrunner for just about any venue list in Dallas these days. Owned by the same folks who have kept Trees' longstanding metal reputation alive since reopening it in 2011, The Bomb Factory's 4,000-plus capacity means it can pull in all-star bills like the recent Generation Axe tour that included Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen, plus ample room to crash into each other in pit or get a break on the side. With one of the best sound systems in the city, you also don't need to worry about this place bringing the bone-crunching noise. Jeff Gage

2713 Canton St., Dallas, thebombfactory.com
2. Gas Monkey Live!

When Gas Monkey Bar 'N Grill opened its second venue across the street in 2014, they did it right: by letting Gwar christen the place with the ejaculated semen of its dead singer's penis. That's just about as metal as you can get, but Gas Monkey Live! has kept its pedal to the proverbial metal ever since, booking blue-chip metal acts that could only a venue like The Bomb Factory could compete with. In the next month alone, they host acts as wide-ranging as Cinderella and Cursive. Plus, Gas Monkey Live! is an often-overlooked pick for one of the best sound systems in North Texas. JG

10110 Technology Blvd., Dallas, gasmonkeylive.com
1. The Rail Club

This metal venue recently underwent a complete remodel, yet somehow retained its friendly environment without losing its outlaw demeanor. Long a go-to spot for metal in Fort Worth, the venue's stage now fills the pool table area, offering even more room not only for fans to escape (or dive into) the mosh pit but also for the music to flow like a wave crashing into the crowd. A memorial plaque honoring the late, great Mike Scaccia — legendary guitarist for Rigor Mortis and Ministry who died onstage — on the front of the stage captures the final reason The Rail Club tops the list: the place has heart and soul. CM

3101 Joyce Dr., Fort Worth, therailclub.com

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