The Rustic is the first real bar I ever went to in Dallas. It had just opened, I was 19, and my big sister knew they didn’t card at the door. I still felt nervous sneaking into the sprawling, industrial space and claiming a spot among the picnic tables in the backyard. I Instagrammed a photo of the American flag made of beer cans on the wall behind the bar to casually announce I was in a cool, grown-up place.
As it turns out, The Rustic is not a “real” bar; it’s actually more of a restaurant/concert venue/hangout, and it’s open to all ages – just one of the reasons that it draws everyone from baby boomers to Generation Z.
In the half-decade since my first foray, The Rustic has become a quintessentially Dallas spot. The venue, which counts Pat Green as a partner, has established itself as a go-to for Americana and Texas country. It’s massive outdoor stage steadily brings in acts like Josh Abbott Band, The Vandoliers, Rhett Miller, and Tyler Childers. But to say that it’s simply a country venue wouldn’t be right. This is Uptown Dallas’ take on Texas, which means Instagram-able beer art, upscale casual food like cactus fritters and grilled Texas quail, mimosa brunches, and, sometimes, no country at all on its sprawling backyard stage and patio.
The Rustic celebrates its fifth birthday on Thursday with a concert featuring country stars Margo Price and Lukas Nelson (you may have heard of his father, Willie), who will perform after talented young musician Frankie Leonie. An artist named Travis Austin will be customizing Stetson hats on-site, and Spinster Records will have a vinyl pop-up shop. It’s set to be a typically Texan affair.
However, tonight The Rustic enters its next chapter with a very different kind of concert. Los Angeles-based “daytime disco” group Poolside, local indie singer Sarah Jaffe, and electronica act Le Youth will put on a free show.
Entertainment director Kylee Kimosh says the event “shows how far [The Rustic has] come. It had an underlying message of, ‘We’re coming into this fifth year with a type of music we’ve never had before.’”
The venue has slowly been expanding its musical repertoire over the past year-and-a-half, starting programs like Music in Our Schools, which gives a platform to high school musicians (like Frankie Leonie), welcoming larger acts like Leon Bridges to its stage, and having special nights dedicated to the music of legends like Selena and David Bowie. In coming months, it’ll host a variety of performers like R&B artist Anderson East, folksy singer Nicki Bluhm, and Hall & Oates tribute band The Rich Girls.
The Rustic has also been expanding its footprint in a major way, opening a location in San Antonio last year, and a third outpost in Houston earlier this month.
Marketing director Matt Schmertz attributes The Rustic’s success to its “ability to really expand the genres… outside of the normal Texas country. We’re evolving who the rustic is and who enjoys it.”