Night Life

Come Out and Play

Are you aware that The Offspring, Orange County's pre-eminent metal-tinged punk rock band, has been active since 1984? That's 25 years, yo: Three more years than Green Day has been around, and those guys are dinosaurs.

And what's weirder, even though they have some qualities that you'd think would make them immediately hatable — lead singer Dexter Holland is a white guy who temporarily wore shoulder-length braids and has a master's in molecular biology from USC — they've been cool for most of that time.

Texas Rock Tavern (2470 FM 1960 W.) has a similarly perplexing appeal.

Several things could lead one to believe an evening at TRT might make for a poor time. It's one of those restaurant/sports-bar/live-music amalgams that almost never work. It's huddled up in the corner of an unattractive strip center. It's also far, far north, and everyone knows nothing worthwhile has been built past TC Jester since 1992.

But TRT turns these flaws on their ear, nicely straddling the line between Hulky Catch-all Bar and Genuinely Entertaining Nightspot.

Its setup is very comfortable. There is a hefty patio, bigger than average game room with darts, a pool table and some video games, and a cozy, reservable VIP room replete with its own bar and TV projector. The bulk of the Tavern, though, is a large, open area with a stage at the back end, some seating in the middle and a bar at the opposite end.

If ever a place were built to house a raucous few minutes of fisticuffs, this would be it. Rebels Honky Tonk (5002 Washington) would finish a close second; Ripcord (715 Fairview) would be third. The possibility of a barroom brawl breaking out always has the side effect of making a place feel more interesting. Fortunately, the rowdiness inside TRT resembles the end of Road House more than the beginning.

Despite a capacity of more than 450 people — the inside area holds about 300, but the large icehouse-style doors open up to the patio so people outside can watch the bands too — the venue manages to maintain a very homey quality. This is partly because of its relatively remote location, but more because of the staff.

There are no employees dancing on the bar, girls in tiny shorts walking around trying to sell you glow-in-the-dark shots or brick-headed bouncers pulverizing your ego. The Tavern's staff just seems to be around when needed, without really intruding on your evening.

"I can walk in and everyone knows who I am and what I drink," says 27-year-old Alisha Hemphill. "As a fellow bartender, it's a wonderful feeling to know you're gonna be taken care of. It's very relaxed, very laid-back."

True, true.

Also, there's no real dress code here. The only wardrobe rule appears to be "Don't dress like an idiot." The crowd, made up largely of locals, fluctuates in age from 21 to 81. And the only time the Tavern charges a $5 cover is on evenings when one of the bands — live music features every Thursday through Saturday — has a name you'd recognize.

"We offer great service and a great atmosphere," says manager Adam Gallardo in between watching hockey (people do that?) with a few of the regulars. "We have a little bit of everything for everybody."

There are no doubt things here you could nitpick if you really wanted to, but it goes that way for everything. We mean, The Offspring got away with that "Keep 'Em Separated" song.


Days of the New

Days of the New ("Touch, Peel and Stand") will be at TRT on June 25. If you made a music-themed map of greater Houston, using bands to represent different ­areas, these Louisville alt-rockers would be placed exactly where TRT is on an actual map. They're a perfect match for each other, and we predict this will be a very solid show. Get out there for it. And three weeks later, July 15, Seven Mary Three ("Cumbersome") plays TRT. We're not quite sure where they'd land on that map. Katy?

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Shea Serrano