If you’ve ever dined at a family-oriented pizza restaurant in San Antonio, there are probably a few amenities you’ve come to expect: affordable food, games for the kids and a funny name like Scooby’s Snack Shack.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect to find hardcore-punk bands ripping into breakneck anthems for a throng of righteously frenzied teenagers. But for the last eight months, Scooby’s Snack Shack (formerly Midtown Pizza) has hosted some of this city’s best hardcore bands, as well as touring groups from Las Vegas to New York, becoming the unlikely epicenter for SA’s hardcore movement.
Located next to Casbeers on Blanco Rd., Scooby’s is unassuming and easy to miss. The only standout decoration to be seen is a small mural of the Spurs’ Coyote spinning a pizza, instead of a basketball, on his finger. But what Scooby’s lacks in flash, it makes up for with the staples of a family arcade: video games, an air hockey table and crane machines.
By day, Scooby’s is a friendly pizzeria with sparse crowds. But at night, hordes of minors can be found hanging outside of the makeshift club waiting to catch their favorite hardcore band.
Josh Huskin, drummer for the SA band Lie and Wait, began booking shows at Scooby’s almost by accident. Last summer, he wandered into the building after seeing art-pop phenom Marcus Rubio play next door at Casbeers. At the time, Huskin found it difficult to locate venues in San Antonio that were affordable enough for hardcore fans. He decided that Scooby’s was a perfect option.
In step with the “do-it-yourself” ethos of hardcore, Huskin quickly took on the role of booking agent, soundman, and the sometimes-grueling job of publicist, all at once and without pay.
“To really promote your shows, you have to go to those bad metal-core shows at the White Rabbit with 25 bands with blood in their name and hand a flyer to every kid there hoping they come to your show,” Huskin says.
Despite the bare-bones, grassroots marketing tactics of flyers, word-of-mouth and an arsenal of Myspace bulletins, Huskin has seen crowds grow consistently from 20 to over 200 people, the latter for a show in January featuring popular hardcore acts Bitter End and Iron Age.
Considering that Scooby’s doesn’t serve alcohol, many of the shows fall on weeknights, and there is no advertising budget to speak of, it’s amazing that Huskin has found a consistent audience in a city where more visible clubs have closed their doors after struggling to maintain a loyal following.
For three years Ruben Faris worked as a cook at Midtown Pizza. Two months ago, he took over full ownership of the newly renamed restaurant along with his wife Christina. While his wife looks over the building during the day, Faris can be found sitting behind the counter at night, watching the bands play in his oversized black apron with a deadpan expression.
“Oh, you know, this music isn’t really for me. I grew up listening to Tejano, but I like it all right,” Faris says. “Hey man, music is music.”
Although allowing bands to play has proven to be a wise business decision for Faris, he takes more pride in providing a place where young people can support each other’s music and stay off of the street.
Faris is quick to give full credit to Huskin for his hard work and notes he only has one rule, a rule that has yet to be broken by the hardcore crowd: “Respect me and my place and I’ll respect you.”
One hardcore patron is Javier Torres, bass player for the local band No Return. Along with bandmates Matt Thompson, Rosendo Flores, and Sam Vaughan, Torres finds Scooby’s to be a favorable locale for bands that thrive on the support of a like-minded community. It’s an idea he says other clubs don’t understand.
“There was a couple of years where the White Rabbit and the Sanctuary were handling hardcore shows,” Torres says. “As prices raised from $5 to $15, the community just fell apart,” Torres says.
A relatively new band, No Return has only played three shows, all at Scooby’s. Like many of the bands that frequent the restaurant, No Return chooses rapid, straightforward chord progressions and lyrics covering all the bases of personal turmoil. Vaughan, the group’s frontman, is a dead ringer for a young Henry Rollins, with his shaved head, tattooed arms and muscular stance. He bluntly sums up No Return’s performance approach as “fast, very fast.”
Over the last three decades, hardcore music has mutated from the underground subgenre shaped by bands such as Minor Threat and Bad Brains. But what hasn’t changed is that it remains a music by, and for, disaffected youth. As Huskin continues to serve the musical tastes of hardcore loyalists, Faris will continue to sell them pizza.