Transit Bicycle Co. is a wonderfully rowdy music venue, even if the place smells like tires.
It's, oddly, the best place on Dallas' Lower Greenville to listen to live, local music now that Crown & Harp has shuttered. Transit's focus is on all-ages shows and punk rock music, with raising money for good causes.
Veteran concert promoter John Iskander, of Parade of Flesh, is creating these DIY shows. He's busy booking five venues for his annual Deep Ellum fest, Not So Fun Weekend, but he's finding time to book shows at Transit just for fun.
"I miss the DIY aesthetics of the smaller tier shows," he says.
Indeed, the shows at Transit are for just a few dozen people, similar to tiny concerts at liquor stores, coffee shops and bookstores. But these monthly events are organized and carefully curated. On Feb. 17, Transit highlighted North Texas' young punk scene with performances from Loafers, Teenage Sexx, Sub-Sahara, and Springtime and the Changes.
"It's definitely unusual," says Caleb Lewis, from Teenage Sexx. "There are weird tools lying around and you're trying not to knock stuff off their shelves while you're playing. But it has the same organized chaos that any DIY show has — and the sound in there is way better than I expected."
It all started a year ago, when Iskander was in need of an appropriate space for a small show meant for an all-ages crowd. He had spoken with Fran Badgett, owner of Transit, who had expressed an interest in using his space to help bring live music back to Lower Greenville.
There are still free shows at Good Records, it's worth noting. But it was Crown and Harp's closure that helped persuade Badgett to help fill the void on Lower Greenville.
"All the live music venues on Lower Greenville have closed and been turned into restaurants and boutiques," says the owner of Transit. "It seemed like a good fit, and I was happy to do it."
The shows at Transit are intense. In-your-face. In a small area surrounded by bikes and glass display cases, the bands essentially occupy the same space as the crowd. Though shows get wild, Badgett says nothing has been broken ("knock on wood"), and people seem to respect what he is doing.
"These smaller not-venue venues help shoulder the burden for young kids who are putting a scene together for themselves," Badgett says.
Badgett is on the board of directors for the Resource Center, which is part of one of the largest LGBT blanket centers in the country, providing youth programs, therapy, senior care, hot meals, AIDS counseling and medication. A dollar from every concert ticket purchased at Transit is donated to the Resource Center.
"It's a cause dear to me," Badgett says. "I'm a gay man and, furthermore, a transgender man." He says he named his shop Transit as a reminder that bicycles can be used to navigate a city and to reference his own transition.
"I fortunately came from a family with enough resources to get me through that without having to reach out," Badgett continues. "But that is exactly who this Resource Center serves. I'm able to give a little back and perhaps raise awareness for people who don't know this is there for them."
Badgett and Iskander are even considering the possibility of bringing more awareness by hosting concerts at the Resource Center. If these shows happen, the Resource Center would be another unique venue. The Oak Lawn building has a triangular event space on the second floor with enormous windows that would make concerts visible to two lanes of traffic.
"It could be a good social event for kids who don't feel like they can go out to Deep Ellum," Badgett says. "And this could also bring bands to an untapped youth culture."
Badgett is proud of the shows at Transit. "I grew up in the punk rock scene in Chicago. People would have shows in their basement, a coffee shop or their mom's backyard. This reminds me of that. Not everyone wants to go to a loud bar to hear music. This is focused on the experience of seeing a new band."
Transit Bicycle Co.'s next show is at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. The bill includes Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Sloppy Jane and Trunkweed. Transit is located at 1915 Greenville Ave., Dallas.