Everything ends. Maybe not on a cosmic level, but here on earth, in the laughably brief duration of human lifetimes, the institutions of men and women all have a final episode. People die. Narrative arcs reach their conclusion. Some say the world will end in fire, and some say “winter is coming,” but either way, we’re all goners. Even “American Pie” eventually runs out of verses. Things age and they change, but there’s a last page to every book, an end to every story.
One such story is that of the Aardvark, the Berry Street music venue that’s held on to its spot near TCU for nearly 20 years. Bought in 1998 by a then-26-year-old musician named Danny Weaver, the Aardvark’s 300-person capacity room was once an epicenter for Fort Worth’s music scene. If you were going to shows in the early 2000s, this was the place to be. I spent my early 20s there, both as a fan and a musician. Playing the Aardvark was my first “big” gig. Getting trashed on Sex with an Alligator shots was my first “big” bar tab. Ask any local band dude in their 30s or older, and you’ll get similar stories. Of course, you could also ask a lot of TCU alums who matriculated over the past two decades about the Aardvark, assuming their memories aren’t completely submerged beneath an ocean of Coors Light and Jägermeister. Such is life, right? But on February 1, 2018, the Aardvark, as it has been, will be no more.
In a phone interview on Monday afternoon, Weaver told me he’s selling the bar to Christ Chapel, the burgeoning Arlington Heights mega-church that has been holding a church service at the Aardvark every Sunday for the past eight years. “They made me a really good offer, and (the Aardvark) being the only bar over (on West Berry), there’s not the foot traffic we used to have, and there’s like 71 bars over on West 7th, so it’s made it harder to compete,” said Weaver. And
But Weaver has also owned it for 19 years, and he is ready for a change. “I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old, and they’re starting to ask why dad isn’t at dinner or at breakfast or at a baseball game.” More than anything, Weaver is looking forward to being a dad. And anyway, he never thought of the bar being his career path. “Running it for 19 years wasn’t my game plan. I was 26 and it was a good deal, and I hated college.”
Weaver says that though he wishes it could be the Aardvark forever, he appreciates the work that Christ Chapel’s Sunday-morning college ministry has done, and praises the “good job reaching out to 18-, 19-year-old kids who are impressionable.” And though building’s days as a bar will end, Christ Chapel will still maintain some food offerings, as well as live music, though obviously, the performances will be faith-oriented.
Though the ’Vark’s days of rock ’n roll debauchery are numbered, Weaver is proud of what he and his staff were able to keep going for so long, though he admits that giving up his bar isn’t as easy as he’d like to think it is. “It’s mixed emotions,” he said. “Whenever you spend this much time doing this, you invest in a lot of bands careers, and I’m proud of that. But it does start to weigh in on you a little bit. You want everyone to make money, you want the bands to have a good time, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but I’m more at peace by being able to spend more time with my children. That’s really a big part of it. I could keep doing this, keep having shows, keep running the bar, but my kids don’t get it.” As much as Weaver liked seeing his boys enjoy come to the bar to watch bands like Bowling for Soup soundcheck, he doesn’t want to miss any of their baseball games.
Besides spending time with his family, Weaver has moved into the energy business, working as a distributor for Green Panel Energy, a clean energy company that specializes in providing power to bars and restaurants. Like his purchase of the Aardvark way back when, Weaver sort of fell into it. “I had a buddy that had been doing it, and he thought I’d be great at it since I know bar and restaurant owners.”
In the meantime, the Aardvark is still open for a couple months, and Weaver says it’s packed with Aardvark legends like John Price and Green River Ordinance, as well as some major announcements for January that he has to keep under wraps for a couple weeks due to radius clauses. If, as Neil Young suggested long ago, it’s better to burn out than fade away, the Aardvark will go out with a bang and not a sigh. Everything comes to an end, but at least the Aardvark is finishing strong.