What started as an open jam session and musician gathering turned into Wichita Falls’ first and only barcade. Barcades have become a large attraction in most major cities across the country. Basically, it’s a bar filled with arcades ranging from skeet bowling to Donkey Kong.
Almost 5 years ago a couple of friends, Michael Hitt and Ryan Thomas, were shooting the bull over some adult beverages at a downtown pub and came up with the idea of getting people together from multiple genres of music to discuss the local music scene. They picked a location on 8th street to make this happen. “We had the metal groups out there, the hip hop guys, the deejays, the rock guys, and we all came together to discuss the idea of no longer undercutting each other and taking free gigs in order to show the bar owners that there is value in local music, and that they needed to start paying musicians for their craft”. Many don’t realize the amount of effort that goes into playing a live music show. “You’re asking 4 men to work an 8 hour day to load up equipment, travel to your venue, set up, sound check, tear down, and drive home.” Factor into the equation the countless hours of rehearsal as well as the expense of equipment up keep and you can be sure that it’s not cheap and easy to perform in a band.
Obviously, as a business you want to pay as little as possible but zero for music isn’t acceptable.
We wanted to prove that so we started throwing shows once a month at our 8th street jam pad downtown and we were doing well. We we were doing so good that someone called the authorities on us to make sure that we were doing everything legal. This started in the fall of 2014. In February of 2015 we had an acoustic show that pulled about 150 people, but that was apparently 3 times as many people as were allowed in the space because it wasn’t coded for assembly.”
This lead the guys on a search for a new location, which proved problematic due to the out of date buildings downtown. Not wanting to lose the momentum, they started contacting building owners in search for a place that would fit their needs and budget. “We ended up meeting Mike Shallemberger through a mutual friend and he showed us a place that had been sitting empty for seven years”. This place became home for The Deep End.
Hitt said that it was bumpy at first. “Weekend shows weren’t bringing in enough funds to cover the bills so we began experimenting with week day events and found that game night was the ticket.” Gaming gurus Marcus McGee and Jason Hester keep a steady flow of game options coming in.
Fast forward a couple years and you can not only still go to game nights, but also catch some amazing shows and events. In the past year The Hub through a NYE/Cosplay party with a packed house of costume wearing patrons, Sean Snyder threw his annual Bingefest, and Ten Cent Pistol played a reunion show to a standing room only crowd. It seems that metal shows are making a come back in Wichita Falls, and it’s safe to say that The Deep End played a role in reviving the nearly lost genre locally.
The crew behind this venue is a diverse bunch of guys and all talented in their own right. This is how they are able to pull off such a diverse venue, hosting everything from metal and hip shows to comedy nights and private parties.
There have been talks about relocating, perhaps even downtown. No firm plans are set, but they have already outgrown their current location and are looking for something larger with kitchen options. No telling what the future holds for The Deep End, but they are definitely headed in the right direction.
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