In reading about the recent demise of CBGB’s, the legendary rock club in New York City, I got to thinking about all the intangibles that make a rock joint great.
With the exception of one or two spots per major city, the Great Rock Club is nigh dead. Sanitary conditions are prized over, well, non-sanitary conditions, fancy hipster art on the walls over graffiti, and extremely loud sound systems over good ones. The sanitary thing I can understand. I admit, one of the best parts of going to a rock club to see a show is the unknown. Is someone gonna punch me? Am I gonna punch someone? Am I gonna be sober enough to make it home? Stuff like that. The last thing I wanna worry about is whether I’m going to leave with some sort of new, heretofore unknown degenerative virus. But the shitty PA’s and nicely appointed stages, bars, and booths – gimme a break. I know that no bar can fake or suddenly pull out of its ass years of love (a.k.a. wear and tear).
But even if a new rock club opened next week in a place formerly occupied by a bakery, there’s no doubt it could have the potential for great rock club-ness – if the right, cool people are hired and drawn there. Now, I know I’ve been writing valentines to The Wreck Room forever and will likely continue ad infinitum, but I don’t think y’all realize what a gem, a darkly luminous gem of a great rock club, the joint is. Is there another place in Fort Worth where, during the early afternoons, day drinkers can gather for eye-openers and, until the early morning, kids can hear original music? A place that’s developed its unique, grungy vibe naturally, not through artificial means?
A place with the best sound system and soundman around? And, most importantly, especially in regard to CBGB’s, a place immortalized in song? “Nazi Taco,” by the sloppy Texas singer-songwriter known as Skitz O’Fuel, takes its title from a shot concocted by longtime Wreck bartender Carl Pack. (Jägermeister and tequila, maybe? Fuck. I just puked a little in my mouth.) One part goes: “It’s always good to see Carl / Three Nazi Tacos lined up on the bar / Just like last time / You know how bartenders’ memories can be.” Before going into the chorus, “We got a gig tonight at The Wreck Room!,” Skitz O’ shouts out to local singer-songwriter and Wreck bouncer Cadillac Fraf: “Lo and behold, it’s Fraf / He’s got a joke and a couple-a laughs / He’ll write a song later / ‘Bout how The Man’s coming down on him,” and on us all.
Just ask the Wreck, whose days are numbered. I doubt that protestations in response to the Wreck’s impending doom will rival those of CBGB’s. The Big Apple club got the tongues wagging and the fingers shaking from Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, and other famous relics from its halcyon days, in the early 1970s. But even though the Wreck’s death a few years from now is sort of a done deal, you know the club won’t be forgotten. At least as long as I’m here.
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