Rock Club 101
The Cavern is a relatively new rock club in Big D, booked by Lance Yocom of Fort Worth’s Spune Productions.
He’s the same guy who does the Weekly’s Central Market Thursday Night Live series and the annual Wall of Sound Festival and who will be doing 6th Street Live. In other words, The Cavern has a lot of good shows, mostly an equitable mix of solid local, regional, and national indie-rock bands. Now that we’re on the subject, I’ve played there a few times and had jolly good fun, but I had never gotten to experience the place from the other side of the stage until last week, when I stopped by to check out The Redwalls (see: Listen Up, pg. 56).
The Cavern is like our beloved Wreck Room in all of the important ways. Other than the quality of the music, the place looks good – it’s dark, distressed-looking, low-ceilinged, and, well, cavernous. The sound is great, and, maybe the best part, the service is superb. When my pals and I walked in early in the evening, the crowd was scant. I bellied up to the bar and ordered a Lone Star – it was warm, borderline hot, in fact. The bartender noticed my displeasure and offered to fetch me cold ones and keep my warm one on ice until later, when it cooled down. I gladly agreed.
Later, after the crowd swelled to capacity, I fought my way to the bar and almost as soon as I (finally) caught the bartender’s eye, I was rudely elbowed aside by an attractive woman. We exchanged a few unfriendly words, but before she could spit her order out, the bartender cut her off. Nodding in my direction, he said, “He was ordering, ma’am” and turned his attention back to me, where it belonged. A few minutes later, my pals and I snaked to a spot close to the stage. At one point, I turned back around and saw a giant, throbbing mass of bodies. I thought for a second about fighting the crowd for another drink, but as I looked over in the direction of the bar, the bartender caught my eye and gave me a knowing look. Within minutes, he had poured me another drink and gave it to nearby customers to pass along to me – I hadn’t even given him my credit card or paid for any drinks yet.
Naturally, the thought that he had a crush on me popped into my head, but, no, some of the regulars there told me that he is just that good. I think that some bartenders – scratch that, a lot of bartenders here and in Arlington, Denton, and, especially, Dallas – would do well to study the service at The Cavern. I’ll go back and spend another half-hour beforehand trying to find parking – there is hardly any – just to be served by that dude at The Cavern. Thanks, man.
For the most part, the crowd was trés un-Dallas-like. Almost everyone seemed genuinely excited about the show and glad to be out and about. It was a pleasant change from what I’d experienced in Big D over the years, both as a performer and patron. However, here’s the coup de grace, which other clubs would do well to note: The cover charge was a measly $6. Considering the high price of gas, a tiny cover charge makes traveling from the Fort to Dallas or vice versa seem like a bargain, like you’re losing money if you don’t go. A perfect touch.
I’m not saying we don’t have awesome rock clubs – we do. Nor am I saying that Dallas is great, certainly based on one visit. But until we can develop a cool, non-chain, safe entertainment district like the Lower Greenville area in which The Cavern is located, and until service in some our clubs picks up and prices go down, Dallas may start looking closer than it is.