Preview: Vice Palace Tapes at Brick Haus

There is a quote from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying that says “what has been built up will collapse, and what has been high will be brought low.” Arthur Peña has personally experienced the cyclical nature of art communities with his immersion into various scenes on the East Coast, Chicago, and Dallas.

This weekend Peña brings the Vice Palace Tapes experience to Brick Haus as part of a series of shows that will mark the end his wandering DIY venue known as Vice Palace. Available for $5 will be split cassettes featuring Pearl Earl and Abacaba recorded at a previous show.

The catalyst for Vice Palace began when Peña ran an experiment art space called WARE:WOLF:HAUS in 2013. “I was just trying to create new content for Dallas to act as a meeting place for different communities. It seemed to be geared towards the overlooked weirdos of Dallas,” says Peña.

Knowing that nothing seems to last, he had the foresight to find a way to document what’s going on rather than leaving valuable memories of the underground scene to be forgotten. A year after he started Vice Palace, the city of Dallas awarded Peña a hell of an anniversary gift with a $5000 grant in order to launch the Vice Palace Tapes record label.

"In the grant, how I worded it to the city was that Vice Palace is documenting the current energy of the DFW indie community,” says Peña. "It was serendipitous of Denton where Vice Palace had reached this point where I feel like I had an understanding of what’s going on in my city. I knew the people who were doing interesting things" Vice Palace Tapes releases are all split tapes recorded at the live shows he books, and they are of extremely limited quantity. It was his label that recorded the final performance of Nevada Hill with his band, Bludded Head.

Peña says “Nobody expected that would be the last time Nevada was recorded or performed even. All of a sudden this project came into focus for me in really actualizing the idea that this community and this energy represent us as people. That really speaks to me how I think of artwork, how i push myself daily and how i approach teaching. This idea that none of this really lasts. It really enabled me to see Vice Palace in a different way”

Peña’s funds eventually ran out to where he had to pour his own money into the label’s production. The current run of Vice Palace Tapes shows are sustained by a $2000 grant received from SMU where he works as a full-time professor for painting. This Saturday will be the first show he has organized in Denton, and even longer since he has attended a show in this city. Peña attended UNT from 2004-2008 before pursuing a post-baccalaureate from the Art Institute of Chicago and an M.F.A. in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design.

As the creative scenes in both Dallas and Denton face challenges, Peña finds it healthy to pursue ways of adapting to the environment to push for a unique arts and music scene. For him, Vice Palace was never about taking the DIY scene above ground. Although he’s booked shows at prominent venues such as RBC and Texas Theatre, he believes those kinds of shows can limit certain audiences. He values organizing shows in a space that provides open context.

Vice Palace Tapes The End: Vol 1 release show will be Saturday, November 5th at 9pm at Brick Haus Collective located at 215 S. Woodrow Ln. Only 25 of the split tapes featuring Pearl Earl and ABACABA will be available at $5 apiece so claim them early when you show up. If you miss out, 50 more tapes will eventually be released through the bands.

Performing Bands:
Pearl Earl
The Dead Mockingbirds (Dallas)
Shitstorm (St.Louis)

Poster art by Bailey Chapman
Header image design by Brittany Keeton