RIP Rubber Gloves

End of an era. — Photo by Brent Frishman

I will never forget the shows I saw and played at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Denton, TX. It helped shaped the person I was and the person I have become. I remember standing on stage singing a song that wasn’t much more than a stream of consciousness scribbled in a notebook. My hand shook on the microphone and adrenaline dropped me to my knees. I was allowing friends and strangers to witness the bloody guts of my untreated mental illness and parading it across the stage. It was a musical act of confession. I didn’t do it for the attention. I did it to survive.

A compilation of my first band, 80 Sheets, playing Rubber Gloves back in March of 2006. — Video by Jay B Stephens

I came to Denton for the jazz and stayed for the indie rock. The UNT music scene was a bad vibe factory full of strict artistic restrictions, seemingly unattainable expectations and lecherous (usually tenured) authority figures. Rubber Gloves felt like a safer space blessed with the magic of acceptance. One night, a train passed on the tracks a stone’s throw behind the venue and blew its whistle in the same key as the song we were playing. The Denton I fell in love with was a living symphony.

I wish I could’ve been there today for the Record Hop reunion. What I wouldn’t give to walk through those doors, see that Pharmacy sign hanging on the wall and hear Dirtbike Justice, Spiderbite or Poprox (can you tell I’m partial to Pareidolia?) slicing through the smokey air. I’ve thrown my neck out thrashing to those songs more times than I can count. When I was in that rough-around-the-edges room, I imagined that’s what it felt like to be a character in the movie Empire Records which was all I’d ever wanted since high school. I was finally finding my niche in the little indie scene that could.

A real-life Corey Mason. Let’s not talk about my keychain pillbox. (Halloween 2015)

As I reluctantly packed a moving truck to relocate to Brooklyn in August of 2006, wrecking balls were preparing to level the places where I’d lived out my most rebellious and iconic collegiate experiences. I was terrified to leave but knew there would soon be almost nothing left of what I didn’t think I could live without. I don’t visit much because you can’t go home when home is nothing more than an intangible memory.

I’ve lived many lives in this body and I intend to live many more. I carry that feeling of home with me in hopes that I will never lose the fire those Denton years sparked inside me. Rubber Gloves, you will be missed by so many. Those you’ve influenced will keep your legacy alive in our music and in our hearts. I haven’t been there in years and yet I still feel the phantom pain of a long-lost limb. I am exhausted and bereft of clarity. I’m no good at goodbyes. Romeo, take us to the bridge.

Thanks, Leo. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
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