The House of Blues, Dallas: Part I

I spent the evening of August 27, 2008 (last night, as I write this missive) at the Dallas iteration of the House of Blues. HOB is a relatively new addition to the West End; it’s been there, at 2200 N. Lamar, only since 2007. I’ve never been inside before, much less to one of their many concerts, but I have to say this: both are a kick. Especially when you’re rockin’ to a band as young and energetic as Tokio Hotel.

But I’ll get to that particular phenomenon later. As I mentioned in West End entry back in November, HOB is located on the far west side of the neighborhood, just past a highway overpass and cheek-by-jowl with Dick’s Last Resort and Hooter’s. Since I didn’t bring my camera — I thought they weren’t allowed, though it turns out I was misinformed — I don’t have any pictures from the visit, though here’s a so-so picture of HOB I took in November:

House of Blues

We were initially going to go there just for the concert, until we heard about a deal where you could pass the concert line if you bought at least $13 worth of dinner and drinks in the attached restaurant first. What they don’t tell you is that about a third of the other concertgoers do the same, so you end up standing in a long line anyway. But hey, no worries — it was inside in the coolness. We could have been waiting outside in the 90-degree heat with everyone else, some of whom had been camping outside HOB as early as 4:30 AM that morning. Considering the heat and the delay getting started, it was quite the long, horrible wait.

Anyway, about that meal: it was great, and there was absolutely no difficulty spending the $13 each. Heck, most of the entrees alone cost that much, because the HOB restaurant is a high-quality affair with top-notch food. Yes, the décor is a bit rustic, and the portions are designed for Munchkins, but that’s no surprise in a place striving for haute cuisine. My sister stuck to a burger, of course, but my mother and I had nice dinner salads with Buttermilk battered chicken fried chicken breasts, sautéed veggies, and delicious mashed potatoes. The entrée may not have been big — after all, this isn’t your neighborhood home-cooking restaurant — but it was memorable. Oh, and let’s not forget those catfish nuggets (although they called them something else, of course). They were quite good, as were the fries that came with them.

The concert was scheduled to start at about 7 PM, which I naively thought meant was when the music would start. Ha! My sister was trés excited, so we queued up in the anteroom in front of the theatre at just after 6 PM, hoping they would let us in early to find our seats. As if! We stood around for an hour listening to a big group of groupies singing the band’s songs at earsplitting sound levels and screaming hysterically whenever a door opened somewhere. The anteroom itself was rather interesting, because it was covered with primitive art on most of the walls. The south wall, however, was a shrine to Blues greats from Al Green to Etta James and more, each with a framed, deep-set white plaster fresco portrait lit with blue lights. There were over a hundred, and the effect was mesmerizing.

We eventually got in and sat down at 7 PM and got a good look at the theatre itself. It’s a roomy place in two tiers, with a nice high balcony up top, along with a bar, and an open SRO floor on the bottom level with, yes, another bar. It’s small enough to be intimate, but big enough to house quite a crowd. It’s attractively designed, and art is everywhere, again going with the primitive theme. Flowers were prominent in the art, and I was especially taken by the tall, flowery trees painted to either side of the stage from floor to ceiling. One exception to the primitive theme was the “Unity Through Diversity” mural above the stage, which included round plaques containing the symbols of ten religions, from Christianity and Judaism to Hindu and Buddhism and more, including what looked like Native American and Zoroastran symbols. They seemed to be made of stained glass, and were lit from behind.

We got to look <> two hours passed slowly, though in relative comfort, before curtain dropped and the real music started…

Being the big tease that I am, you guessed it, I’m gonna save that part for Part II. See you in a coupla days!