Hookah bars seem to be a dime-a-dozen nowadays, as is their general vibe: a superficial exoticism that seems to be presenting the venue as something it’s truly not; a comforting joint for college kids that are behaved enough to not partake in worse vices.
So it’s nice to see a place that doesn’t try to copy the Arabian Nights theme from Party City and tries to gear itself towards the local art/music crowd.
One such place is Studio 13, at 7218 Blanco Rd. & 410. What you’ll notice is that there’s no fluff or food to the place; there’s bar stools, glass tables, a pool table in the back, a stage in the corner for live music and a loaded bar with over 40 selections, including more peculiar drafts like Woodchuck and Black Butte.
The hookah (in compact form rather than the cumbersome ones seen in most joints) is pleasantly varied. It’s a pinch pricier than other places, running around $13, although you aren’t charged for mixed patches so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Some interesting flavors are Pink, Code 69 and something called “Snickelfrits.” You’ll just have to take my word on it.
Owner Wes Johnson said that he wanted a place where art and music could gather as a way to help the aspiring San Antonio scene. Tuesdays are the Live Revive sessions, where artists are encouraged to bring their respective mediums and get to creating art.
Along the walls are art pieces from local artists, ranging from lithographs, paintings and drawings. Wednesdays are Almost Open Mic for amateur musicians and performance artists and Sundays are Open Mic Comedy Nights.
There’s a genuine purpose to what the owners are trying to accomplish, and it’s comforting to see them act upon it and even encourage the creation of art.
If you’re on a budget, Thursdays might be the best night to go. On the 24th of February there was a lineup comprising of three local rock bands: the kinetic-rock band Trainwrecked, the one-man act Honey Son and the mega-octane rocking The Dangerfields.
Trainwrecked provide a variety of covers ranging from 80s pop rock to alternative 2000s. They have a right amount of spirit, bringing a high kinetic energy that takes covers to unexpected results. Not extraordinary, but definitely gets everyone in a chipper mood on a nippy evening.
Honey Son, a one-man band lead by Mars Wright (currently in “The Cure” over at the Woodlawn Theatre), was a truly genuinely unique live musical act. His “band” is comprised of a utility platform that allows him to sound mix his songs, which sound like a postmodern Radiohead, leading to something that qualifies as performance art moreso than a live music act. Wright stated that it’s not the song itself, by the creation of the song that keeps him going.
Ending the night with a bang were The Dangerfields, an apocalyptically-high octane band that cranks up the volume and the rock with such ferocity they don’t even allow the audience to applaud until the end of a set, allowing the energy to overwhelm the senses. Powerful stuff for a hookah lounge, where one would expect to unwind.
Studio 13 backs up its aspirations with a lounge that functions both as a place to loosen up with some Snickelfrit smoke and Woodchuck draft and a place where local art and music genuinely meet up for the sake of art rather than superficial hype.