Feature Stories

Unraveling the Drama Behind How Hodor Booked a Show in Dallas (But Not at The Door)

If you've been on Facebook in the past few months, then chances are you've received at least one virtual invitation to a fake concert. The trend started back in April when a Facebook user's fictitious invitation to a secret Limp Bizkit show at a Sunoco gas station in Dayton, Ohio, on (what else?) April 20 prompted a very real crowd to show up on the promised date. But here in Dallas, those memes have turned into a reality, thanks to Game of Thrones actor Kristian Nairn.

A meme touting "Hodor at The Door" — so named for Nairn's GoT character, Hodor — first appeared following Hodor's death on the HBO series back in May. It quickly prompted a wave of news coverage and online support when event organizer Jared Guynes started gathering support to make The Door show a not-so-virtual reality. But organizers of the "Rave of Thrones" show that's now scheduled to play at The Bomb Factory on Saturday, August 13, say plans were already in the works to bring Nairn to Dallas before the idea went viral.

Josh Smith, the co-founder of the live event production company Banjos to Beats, says he's been trying to bring Nairn's "Rave of Thrones" show to Dallas for the last two years since he first learned about Nairn's musical talent. He says it wasn't just Nairn's connection to the HBO show that interested him but also his musicianship as a DJ. Smith describes Nairn's music as a tribute to the "old school, underground kind of rave vibe" in a sea of EDM musicians who are just "DJs pressing play." 

"There's a lot of celebrity DJs out there," Smith says. "The thing that really got us interested [in Nairn] was that he's a legit DJ and he's been doing it a very long time and he's very high level. That combined with being fans of the show, we wanted to do it and we thought it would be cool." 

Nairn's agent Daniel Albert, who works for Central Entertainment Group in New York City, says there are "a lot of factors that make [scheduling] a challenge." Nairn has been touring the U.S. for the last three years, but he's also had a global touring schedule to work around coupled with a shooting schedule for the HBO show that added more dates and places to his annual itinerary. 

"Our strategy is not just to go to the biggest place possible," Albert says. "We want to play to a packed house, so it's also about strategizing him to play in the right room, the rooms that represent him as a DJ. Kristian Nairn is a DJ, and we want him to play in the best rooms in the country. The sound quality, the history, the size of the room, all of those things play factors in determining the best place to play." 

Guynes, meanwhile, is no stranger to hatching far-fetched event ideas. He organized Jared's Epic Party in 2014 that reunited Vanilla Ice with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a recent successful attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Nerf gun battle. Guynes says he "stumbled across" the "Hodor at the Door" show meme just a few days after it was posted. 

"I saw a random comment, and I don't know who did it, but he said, 'Wouldn't it be fun if this actually happened?'" Guynes says. "I responded, 'It could actually happen and I know how to do it.'" 

He posted a notice on his Facebook page on June 1, gauging his followers' interest in making the show a reality. Guynes' post attracted a wave of local and even national media attention even though there was no official deal in place to bring Nairn to The Door.  

Guynes says at this point, he only reached out to Nairn's management and made an offer of $10,000 with funds raised from another crowdfunding campaign. 

"What was going to make my show different was the venue and the timing," Guynes says. "It was just coincidental that [Nairn] had just got killed off on the show. I just found out his name. So the timing was perfect to do the show in Dallas. Everything was going to align perfectly for that and made it even more exciting." 

Guynes says he heard back from Albert within 24 hours of his initial email that they would consider his offer, but Nairn's management had some questions about the venue. 

"He responded to me, and it took me off guard: 'Why should Kristian do a concert with you at The Door when we have the option to do a show at a more proven venue like the Lizard Lounge?' That's the first time I realized there might be other players in the game," Guynes says. "Up until this point, I had no idea." 

Smith says his company was already working out a deal to bring Nairn to the Lizard Lounge and made it official on June 16, followed by an official public announcement and ticket sale opening on June 26 for Nairn's show at the Lizard Lounge. The event sold out in 24 hours and Banjos to Beats announced the venue move to the Bomb Factory on June 29 to accommodate the influx of fans and attendees. 

Guynes says he later upped his offer to $15,000 with a 100 percent upfront payment because he felt that based on the response he received on social media and the new coverage that "doing the event at The Door will raise this event from another stop on the tour to the stop on the tour because of the name of the venue." 

Guynes says he was willing to front extra costs to make The Door an accommodating venue for Nairn's show while also turning the place into a mini-Westeros for GoT fans. 

"He's not just Hodor," Guynes says. "He wants to be respected as a musician, too... I can understand that." 

Smith echoes that point: "One of the first conversations we had with the agent was, this is a legitimate musician and we want him to be in a nightclub environment in front of people who follow up and come to see him play," he says. "Even if he was not Hodor [the] Lizard Lounge offered some exposure to that crowd... I don't know if The Door has a built-in crowd like that." 

Last Friday, Guynes posted what he described as a "tell-all" message on his Facebook page that's since been taken down announcing his plans for a show at The Door weren't going to happen and detailing the events and offers he made to Nairn's people so "I could tell the people following me for information exactly what's going on." 

Not long after the post went up, Guynes says he got a call from Albert. 

"Dan's pissed," Guynes says. "He's livid. He's almost screaming at me. Dan's like, what are you doing? Your Facebook post, why would you do that? I'm like, it's the truth. He's like, you can't post confidential information like that on the internet. We didn't sign an agreement." 

Albert says he couldn't "confirm or deny" making such a phone call, but reiterated Guynes' description of his claim that it's a common courtesy in the music business not to disclose such details to the public. 

"When conversations happen on email and behind closed doors, they expect it to be respectful and confidential and whatnot," Albert says. "There's a reason why promoters in this industry do this over and over again and you don't call William Morris and don't get a show and go to Facebook and blast the industry and reveal confidential information to the public because of a personal disappointment. If he did that with a big agency, he would never get to work with that agency again." 

Guynes says he's also reached out to Banjos to Beats to offer his involvement to the new show but hasn't heard back from the company.

"The offer confirmation and the official announcement happened so close together that I never had a chance to reach out with anything solid with him," Smith says about Guynes' communication. "We're always open to ideas." 

Smith adds that even if any GoT fans are still disappointed that they wouldn't get to stand in the shadow of a meme that crept its way off the internet, they can still expect to see a good show no matter where it's being held. 

"I think that a little exposure never hurts but at the same time, there's still quite a few people who are still expressing discontent that this isn't at The Door, which is unfortunate," Smith says. "Hopefully, we can show them these next few weeks and have them over at The Bomb Factory and change their opinion." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.