In the midst of the last show at The Where House, I looked around the room and tried to make sense of everything going on around me.
This was two weeks ago, so my memory is fuzzy, but I recall watching Telegraph Canyon playing a set heavy on songs from its upcoming, yet-to-be-named third album. At one point, the veteran Fort Worth sextet kept a tight rein on the dynamics, giving the song’s loping time signature a sense of urgency held in check, like waiting for the light onto The Highway to Freedom to turn green. The audience — about 200 people strong — was transfixed, swaying and nodding along, waiting for the music to burst open into the finish.
At the back, where I was standing, the din from the crowd on the lounge side of the room spilled across Telegraph’s audience like a wave of Gatorade dumped on a victorious coach. People were queued up three or four deep across the bar, the bar crowd flowing into another group milling around the pool table. Instead of a game in progress, the table held a few binders containing pictures of The Where House’s artwork and other knickknacks, each with an increasing succession of bids for the silent auction in progress. My gaze wandered up from the pool table, past the race cars flashing by on an arcade game screen, and toward the ceiling, where I locked eyes with a mounted deer trophy sporting Raybans.
The young buck, whose bright future clearly had ended badly, offered no opinion on the proceedings. If he had (and Lord knows there were plenty of Where House nights crazy enough that it wouldn’t have seemed out of place for a dead deer to start talking), he might have said, “It’s better to go out with a party than a lawsuit!” Because with The Where House and its bizarrely functional blend of the solid and the sketchy, it could have gone either way.
Located in a wedge-shaped lot on Hemphill Street between train tracks and a wig store, The Where House, for the past five years, was one of Fort Worth’s all-time weirdest, wildest event spaces. The dilapidated building was a nexus of creative energy, evolving alongside the Near Southside’s mid-decade commercial and artistic boom.
By design, The Where House could be anything, from a 700 person-capacity event space to a spot to cook out, drink beer, and chill with your friends. Its impact on Fort Worth’s creative scene was undeniable, and its departure — that last show was on Jan. 18, and there’s nothing more on the books — leaves a void not easily filled. For all of the blurry fun and half-remembered good times, The Where House was kind of an accident waiting to happen. Keeping it going was like running the Gravitron ride at a carnival when you know some of its bolts are missing and the door doesn’t shut all the way. Who’s nuts enough to do that?