I want to be sentimental, but I also want to keep things in perspective. I am well aware that life is full of serious heartbreak and serious trauma. And death. (Google “Nigeria attack 2,000.” It’ll make you want to punch President Obama and every single member of Congress in the stupid face for sitting on their hands.) But the Fort Worth music scene will never be the same after this weekend. That’s because two institutions are saying farewell. And they will be deeply missed. Especially by me.
One of them is a band. I do not remember the first time I heard The Hanna Barbarians. Maybe I listened to one of their tracks on Reverbnation (or *gulp* MySpace). All I recall is that I liked them enough to seek them out at a venue. The first time I saw them was at the dearly departed Moon on West Berry Street in TCUland. They were loud, raucous, bluesy, gritty, tight as hell, and very well-bearded. I wrote an m-effin cover story about them.
The Barbs, to their betterment or detriment, were about as “Fort Worth” as you could get. Though they pumped out exceptional music that no one with even a smidgen of higher reasoning abilities could disparage and got a lot of love (mainly from us but also occasionally from that Star-T rag), I don’t think they were ever mentioned in Central Track, D Magazine, or the Observer. And I know for a fact their music was never played on KXT and that they played Dallas and Denton only a handful of times. Figuring out whether that was because the Barbs never wanted to leave the Fort or because there was nowhere else nearby for them to go would require the kind of research that, well, none of us really has the time for. But the whole situation was very odd, especially considering that several Dallas bands, including Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights and The Roomsounds, were pretty much making the same kind of racket. Jonathan Tyler got signed to Atlantic Records. The Barbs ate shit*. And yet! Dem boys still drew better than pretty much every other Fort Worth band not named Quaker City Night Hawks.
It didn’t help that the Barbs liked to party. A lot. “It’s kind of a cliché, the burned-out rock star … but we definitely went for it,” lead guitarist and co-lead songwriter Alex Zobel told me a couple of weeks ago (“Fallen Empire,” Dec. 22, 2014). But the guys did not burn out. In fact, they’ve blossomed. While frontman Blake Parish works on his solo stuff and perhaps another rock project (and is planning his wedding), three of the Barbs –– Zobel, guitarist Kris Luther, and drummer Brady Hamilton (another soon-to-be-married guy) –– are in the hot-shit garage-rock outfit The Longshots. The Longshots actually received more Dallas press in their first few minutes of existence than The Hanna Barbarians did in their five years of togetherness. Weird.
Anyway, the other institution that is going bye-bye is Barbs-friendly and well-loved by people all over the world, Dallas included. The first time I went to The Where House was on some random weeknight when Shuttle (’member them?!) was playing. The venue –– a cavern, sort of like a giant’s rec room –– was shamefully empty, but on the smallish patio out back was a par-tay. The most packed I ever saw the place was when EPIC RUINS played not long after releasing their debut album, circa 2011. But I’m sure that the Where, having hosted shows by the likes of Acid Mothers Temple and Stardeath & White Dwarfs, has been asses-to-elbows more times than that, and I guarantee the place is going to be incredibly yet happily uncomfortable on Sunday. Burning Hotels (yes, that Burning Hotels) and Telegraph Canyon (yes, that Telegraph Canyon) will be joined by Dallas’ Dark Rooms and Fort Worth’s Patriot to say “so long” to The Where House (2510 Hemphill St., 817-913-0777) on its last night. Cover is $12.
The Hanna Barbarians’ last show starts a few hours earlier, on Saturday night, at The Grotto (517 University Dr., 817-882-9331) with YoJimbo and Animal Spirit, allowing the truly dedicated among you to roll from one party right into the mutha-fuckin’ next –– the doors to the Where open at 4 p.m.
Over the years, I grew close to several of the Barbs, and I’d just like to use what little space I have left to say: Keep doing what you love, because it’s one of the only fights worth fighting. One of the others is for your fellow man and woman. –– Anthony Mariani
*Meaning, their lack of industry approval continued.
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