A few months ago, I was driving through Minneapolis listening to Judas Priest’s Best-Of album Living After Midnight, when all of a sudden the obvious hit me: those dudes are getting old!
It seemed of vital importance to make sure I saw them play before they retired for good. I knew they were on tour, but I didn’t realize they were coming back to the States from Europe. I was beyond stoked when I saw they had added more dates! Work schedule, money and my boyfriend’s request to come along, narrowed down our options to catch them on tour in one city: Dallas, Texas. Now, Dallas is not exactly the kind of place I would visit, but as long as I’m in town to see Priest I don’t care where I am.
Our first day, all of the days really, it was blazing hot. Construction workers found relief in the shade, as they napped on the sidewalk during their breaks. No dogs were on walks since the concrete would torch their little paws.
Texas heat knocked the wind right out of us, yet we decided to explore the neighborhood near our hotel, Deep Ellum.
The neighborhood was originally called Deep Elm, but Southern drawl chewed it up and spit it out. Today “Elm” is “Ellum”. Deep Elm is where you need to be, it is known as the local arts district full of bars, venues, restaurants and random little shops. Pink Crape Myrtle trees lined the streets, their vibrant blossoms popped against the clear blue sky.
There were old warehouse buildings, and seemingly vacant motels and shops with architecture from the early 1900s. Contrasting with the vintage structures, modern murals and stenciled graffiti colored many of the walls on each block.
We wandered around until we found Off the Record, which doubled as not only a bar, but a record shop too. Hell yeah!
OFF THE RECORD:
2716 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226
Mon - Fri: 5:00 pm - 2:00 am Sat - Sun: 12:00 pm - 2:00 am
Inside Off the Record, we grabbed drinks and checked the place out. Their music selection was eclectic: Too $hort, Iron Maiden, Love and Rockets, Billie Holiday, the Good Will Hunting soundtrack (on vinyl??), Minor Threat, Taylor Swift (again, on vinyl??).
Vanessa was our bartender and she was rad! She told us the local places to hit up while we were in town. Too bad for Dallas she’s packin it up and movin out to NYC. She just started Pussy Poptimist, a magazine that I will use her words to describe:
“We are relentless in producing and curating distinct, compelling, and empowering female-forged works in pop music and arts criticism. Content is queen.” Damn, girl! Check it out.
I heard the door open and a silhouette appeared in the doorway. A short, old man ambled in, decked out in a bolo tie and a straw hat, carrying a plastic martini glass. He told me his name was Bob and that he was born in January 1952. Vanessa filled up his martini glass with Cherry Coke. Bob was a fixture in Deep Ellum, part of the menagerie of local characters. He told us about a documentary that had been made about his life called His Name is Bob. His hair was purple and magenta. He recited a million jokes. The first one: What do you call a cow that’s had an abortion? Decaffeinated. Budum-BUM. I didn’t get his picture that night, but I ran into him the next morning at a nearby café.
We headed downtown to Dealey Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum, which is dedicated to showcasing all aspects of the JFK assassination.
I have to admit: the museum was part of our itinerary as kind of a touristy pit stop, and basically a way to kill time until we saw Judas Priest that night. But walking through the exhibit, looking at faded black and white photos, watching grainy images on the Zapruder film, I was moved in a way that I hadn’t expected. If you haven’t seen the film, there is a moment after JFK is shot that Jackie Kennedy begins climbing toward the trunk of the car, while a Secret Service agent jumps on. JKF’s body is slumped in the backseat. It has been said that she was reaching for pieces of her husband’s skull. I teared up.
I was standing in the location of the sniper’s perch. The silver car in the bottom right corner is exactly where JFK was shot. It felt so spooky, standing there.
SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM at DEALEY PLAZA
411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202
open every day from 10am to 6 pm. Except Mondays, noon to 6 pm
We were so wrapped up in the museum that before we knew it, it was time to book it outta there. To the suburbs, to Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie to see JUDAS PRIEST!!!!!
A bit disappointed that there was no Heavy Metal Parking Lot scene, we searched for a place to get food and drinks, finding nothing but an endless hellscape of strip malls and gas stations. I have to tell you something.
There was nowhere else to go but Applebee’s. There, I said it. We had dinner and drinks at Applebee’s. I didn’t take any pictures. I’ll let you use your imagination.
We headed to the theater. I became giddy, high on the Texas heat and tequila and excitement. I get chatty when I’m excited, and made a million new friends (okay, more like 5.) There was the trio of punk metal kids, in their patched-up denim vests.
The crowd was mostly old-school fans, grey haired bikers and babes in their 40s walking with limps from old motorcycle accidents. A few young people, stony teenage boys wearing a lot of Iron Maiden and King Diamond shirts.
And then it began: time to take our spots and begin worshiping the one and only Metal God with the Priest of all priests!
True to form, Rob Halford roared out on a motorcycle and started off with a cover of “War Pigs.” From the beginning of the show, his voice was on point, screaming and howling while hitting those impossibly high notes with perfection. He paced the stage with ease and confidence, knowing he held us in the palm of his hand. The rest of the band were rockin' it too; guitarist Glenn Tipton smiled and worked the front row on his end of the stage. Scott Davis spent the show casually flipping and catching his drumsticks, all while keeping perfect rhythm. Bassist Ian Hill, chilled in the corner, content to let the rest of the band take the spotlight.
The new kid on the block was Richie Faulkner, who replaced original guitarist K.K. Dowling. And man, that guy looked like he was having the time of his life. He fully embraced the classic rock guitarist role, winking at the audience, playing guitar above his head, swinging his long hair around, playing solos on his knees.
Halford changed outfits many times, from studded leather to a glittering trench coat. This was my first time seeing them, and I’ve heard their past shows had a few more antics: trap doors, more fire, a gigantic electric eye. There was none of that, but they played so tight and gloriously that no one missed the extra stuff. Rob Halford’s operatic wails and the band’s hardcore shredding were all we needed!
Throughout the night they mostly stuck to the hits, which I was more than happy with.
- Opened covering War Pigs!
- Devil’s Child
- Hell Bent for Leather
- Breaking the Law
- Victim of Changes
- Beyond the Realms of Death
- You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
- Living After Midnight
I was hoping for Diamonds and Rust, but other than that, I heard all my favorite songs...
Also, I got a pick! We were so close to the stage that after the encore I felt it bounce off me and even in the dark I was able to find it. Awesome. It was the best night ever, truly amazing.
With the show over, it was back to Deep Ellum to check out the Black Swan Saloon. Rad little place known for their special fruit infusions with vodka and live music. All black outside, no sign.
They loved Clint Eastwood there. A velvet painting above the bar, and a huge mosaic out back.
BLACK SWAN SALOON:
2708 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75226
open everyday 7 pm to 2 am
Our bartender, Jack, was a cool dude. We asked for tequila drinks and he whipped up something light with grapefruit soda, club soda and mint, if I remember right. Refreshing and not too sweet. Go see him if you’re in town.
We made a midnight food run to BuzzBrews, a 24 hour restaurant with breakfast, plethora of vegetarian options, Mexican inspired food. I forgot to take a picture since it was the middle of the night, but it was awesome. We were so desperate for late night food and it was the only place around! A slice of heaven. Oh, also a full bar! We didn’t partake, so I don’t know what alcohol serving hours are.
BUZZBREWS: 2801 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75226
open 24 hours!
The next morning we found a breakfast spot, Cafe Brazil, down the street, which is where Bob popped up again. Amazing Brazilian food. Hit the spot after a late night. Also, get a fruit bowl. Berries, blood orange, melon, all fresh and well ripened.
2815 Elm St
Sunday through Thursday 7 am to midnight
Friday and Saturday 24 hours
Then it was time to go. A whirlwind trip. Deep Ellum was great but Judas Priest was magic.
ABOUT CGT SOCIETY MEMBER ELISE:
Career/Hobbies: Metalsmithing, screen printing, writing, discovering local art and, of course, the adventures of traveling.
Travels: I've been lucky enough to have lived and traveled through many parts of Europe. One of my all-time favorite trips was to Morocco. Last year, I visited Mexico City where I ate ant eggs and saw Frida Kahlo's house; I took a train across Switzerland to see Iron Maiden; and drank whisky near crumbling castles in Ireland with my little sister and brother-in-law.
This year I'm heading out home to Humboldt County, CA and down to Dallas, TX to see Judas Priest!