North Texas Daily

Denton music venues stand test of time

Denton music venues stand test of time

Denton music venues stand test of time
October 15
23:53 2014

Byron Thompson / Senior Staff Photographer

Thunder roars outside Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio late Sunday night. Inside, Terminator 2 roars louder. You hear it the moment the door opens. You feel it when you step inside the bar.

Enter the showroom and you’re swallowed up. Rumbling bass guitar rattles through your bones as the drums bounce off the cement walls and punch you in the chest.

A man tinkering with a strange reeled tape deck twists and turns piercing frequencies and when it can’t get any louder, the bassist lets loose a guttural yell like a blood sacrifice. Two dozen patrons, new and old, ebb and flow through the noisy doom sludge. None of them would have it any other way.

In the ever-changing landscape of the Denton music scene, a handful of live music venues remain as staples for the evolving sounds of the town. Everyone plays house shows, and whether it’s your drummer’s garage or Macaroni Island, it lets you know you’re part of a community.

But when a musician enters the stomping grounds of decades-old, music-in-the-walls Denton venues, it’s a different stage. There’s a sense of history and potential that comes with playing for an audience at Rubber Gloves or Hailey’s Club. And a band will hear itself like never before at Dan’s Silverleaf.

Rubber Gloves


Denton band Bukkake Moms perform at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio Saturday night. Rubber Gloves is located at 411 E. Sycamore St.

Rubber Gloves is a grungy little dive bar and music venue just on the other side of the tracks on Sycamore Street. While banning smoking inside the bar may have taken something from the initial charm, a new coat of paint hasn’t taken away from the ragtag DIY atmosphere. Rough around the edges, Rubber Gloves reflects many of the bands it books and the audiences who turn out.

Rob Buttrum, the man behind ‘the tower’ of tape decks in Terminator 2, has been playing and booking shows in Denton for nearly 10 years. He says, for his taste, Rubber Gloves is the place.

“Rubber Gloves is different than other bars and clubs in Denton in that it does not have that college bar vibe, which most bars in Denton do,” Buttrum said. “I like the dingy, dark, concrete feel. It feels more like a rock or metal club.”

Justin Webb, a burly manager with long curly hair, says he’s come to know a lot of the musicians over his five years working at Rubber Gloves.

“I’m good friends with the guys in Terminator 2,” Webb said. “They’re definitely still the loudest band we’ve ever had. They’ve contributed more to my tinnitus than anyone else.”

But Rubber Gloves is about more than turning the volume up to 11. Michael Seman, a senior research associate at UNT’s Center for Economic Development and Research, has studied the ways in which music scenes are catalysts for economic and community development. He’s also played most venues in Denton with his band Shiny Around The Edges. He says the dynamic that Rubber Gloves has developed is beneficial for newer bands finding their feet.

“Rubber Gloves has shifted its focus to supporting even more local bands, allowing them to develop an audience while still booking some great national acts,” he said.

Buttrum also notes that a cheap cover and effective promotion have helped get audiences out and supporting live music at Rubber Gloves.

Internationally recognized American folk rock band Midlake formed in Denton in 1999. After playing shows at past venues like Brick House, the Groovy Mule, and the still-present Andy’s, Rubber Gloves was one of the first shows that felt like a significant step for drummer McKenzie Smith.

“There was a mystique of really cool bands like the Shins, Modest Mouse, Elliott Smith – legends that have played there,” Smith said. “We felt like we were part of the Denton scene. It was like a landmark for us.”

A band currently gaining traction in Denton is Space State, a dreamy folk band that played its first show for bassist Cameron Trevino’s birthday party. After a handful of house shows, Space State got a gig at Rubber Gloves opening for Eureka the Butcher, an electronic project with The Mars Volta’s Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez.

Trevino said the band was honored to play. Being among so many other artists, especially those who turn out for shows at Rubber Gloves, gave the band courage.

“There’s no distinction between bands and fans,” Trevino said. “You can tell they pay attention. They appreciate the music.”

Dan’s Silverleaf

Claire Morales plays a solo set at Dan's Silverleaf on Monday night.

Claire Morales rocks a solo set at Dan’s Silverleaf opening for Grace Park and the Deer Monday night. Dan’s Silverleaf is located at 103 Industrial St.

Space State got another step up the ladder when it played at Dan’s Silverleaf for the first time at this year’s Oaktopia. Though that first night was a little chaotic, the band was asked to come back and open for VoltREvolt last Friday.

“Dan’s focuses on regional and national alternative country acts – Americana artists with some indie thrown in the mix,” Seman said. “Plus, Dan’s also has a pretty steady lineup of local roots rock artists.”

Monday night wasn’t as full at Dan’s as the show on Friday, but that never stops the bar from putting on a good show. Claire Morales, who sings and plays guitar in her self-titled band and Old Potion played an intimate solo set for a crowd that felt more cozy than sparse. Her poignant vocals were full and resonant. The room hung on every lyric.

After the show, Morales sat out on the patio joking with a few friends. Nate, the manager at Dan’s, took a moment to come out and chat.

“Claire, you sounded phenomenal,” he said.

Roy Robertson got up from the table where Morales sat to tune up for his turn onstage. A member of another local favorite, Pageantry, Robertson performed a solo set of his own that carried Morales’ atmosphere with his own impassioned songwriting and unresolved sound.

“Shows [at Rubber Gloves] are fun. They’re raunchier over there,” Robertson said. “Dan’s is just the classiest place in Denton.”

When Denton bands like Snarky Puppy and Midlake come back through town, Dan’s is the place most look to first.

Hailey’s Club

Final Drive playing at Hailey's Saturday night.

The band Final Drive, comprised of five members, plays a set at Hailey’s Club on Saturday night where the e-magazine DFW Undercover held a costume party. Hailey’s Club is located at 122 W. Mulberry St. in Denton.

Another familiar venue is Hailey’s Club. While Hailey’s has undergone some rebranding in the dance club direction these past years, the club has tried to maintain its live music roots.

Nearly a decade ago, after Midlake had found more success in Australia than the U.S., it released its second album. That year, it played two sold-out shows at Hailey’s.

“It was a huge time for us as a band, selling out the biggest venue in your hometown,” Smith said.

But recently, Hailey’s has struggled with filling the room for live music.

“Hailey’s had a bad rap,” said Cari Espinoza, guituarist for Space State. “The crowd doesn’t tend to go out.”

Owner Jennifer Gibbs found the best way to pay the bills is to focus on DJs and themed club nights like the well-known “90’s Night.”


Roy Robertson of Pageantry plays a solo set at Dan’s Silverleaf on Monday night.

Many consider recent years to be a lull in the Denton music scene. Robertson remembers the energy of both the bands and the supporters when he still lived in Denton.

“There used to be more community. There was support for music and not just drink sales,” Robertson said. “Hailey’s isn’t a real venue anymore. It’s more of a place for college kids to drink.”

Seman’s take is a little more positive.

“Hailey’s has completely shifted their focus on the local scene from indie rock to DJs and the thriving hip-hop scene,” Seman said. “It seems to be working out pretty well for them.”

Bill Pierce, founder of local online music magazine DFW Undercover, promotes and books shows around the area. When he comes to Denton, he prefers to work exclusively with Hailey’s.

Bringing back the support

Pierce set up a costume party for his wife Meg’s birthday at Hailey’s on Saturday. Dallas acts like New Voodoo played some heavy covers of classic songs.

Halfway through the set, the guitarist Andrew Lewthwaite, dressed as a police officer, screamed, “It’s like, we’re almost brutal!”

A woman wearing a busty bumblebee costume shouted back, “There’s no such thing as almost brutal!”

As the night wound down, Pierce looks around at the crowd filling about a third of Hailey’s venue.

“Hailey’s has such a great space. We don’t want to lose venues to dance clubs,” Pierce said. “We’re working on bringing fans out to show support for local music.”

Featured Image: New Voodoo plays a costume party at Hailey’s on Saturday night. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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