Monday, November 24, 2008

Red River Bar District

I was asked to provide a brief summary of the Red River Bar District by Michael Barnes, my Entertainment Journalism instructor, who also happens to be an entertainment writer for the Austin American Statesman. They are compiling their annual bar guide, and our class was asked to help with the research of the various districts. I immediately picked the Red River District, being fairly familiar with it. Here is my summary:

The Red River bar scene is interesting because its bars represent a wide variety of cultural differences. First, I think that this area is primarily recognized as a live music destination.
You have your metal heads, old skool Red River scenesters, indie hipsters,
goths and gays and let's not forget the crackheads hanging in the alley by
Room 710.

Here's a breakdown of the bars in that area starting at E. Sixth and Red
River and ending at Tenth and Red River.

1. Emo's: A name synonymous with live music for many years now. In addition to a small indoor dive-y venue, Emo's also has a large outdoor venue that attracts many big-name artists. They also have a lounge next door, but I heard that they were closing it to put in El Sol Y La Luna (a
restaurant on Congress). Not sure when that will happen or the details.
Also known for the nastiest bathrooms in town (It's rumored that they have
never been cleaned).

2. Spiros: A dance-y, frat/sorority club with loud thumping beats bleeding out into the street. Crowd more akin to Sixth Street crowd. College kids. No live music, except during SXSW. Mainly dj's.

3. Plush: A lounge club that specializes in dance, hip-hop, primarily dj-based music.

4. Elysium: Goth-y dance bar straight out of the 80's. You will see people clad in black with tons of eyeliner looking like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They also have a good 80's night, where old people like me can dance to all the favorites from high school and
junior high. They also have a strong gay/lesbian crowd. Elysium features live
music from time to time.

5. Beerland: Dive bar featuring live music. Usually punk-y bands, with a good mix of indie and garage thrown in. Bad sound if you happen to be playing there. Love the name.

6. Red-Eyed Fly: Another dive bar. Has good-sized stage and bar in outdoor area. Think that this bar is mostly metal and hard rock, with a few butt-rock (hair metal-ish) bands thrown in for good measure.

7. Room 710: Live music. Metal, metal, metal! Used to be a little more diverse in its musical tastes, but seems to be steering towards the heavier bands these days. Gutter punks and aging metal musicians (the old
skool Red River crowd) are at home here.

8. Headhunters: The name says it all. Another bar that caters to old skool Red River crowd. Usually the same mix of people. Metal and hard rock.

9. Stubbs BBQ: Premier live music venue. Music featured outdoors and indoors. Outdoor area showcases touring bands that have achieved a larger measure of success. Indoor is more local bands and smaller touring acts.
I heard that they were doing a renovation of the outdoor area to make the stage
more accessible and expanding to make the capacity higher.

10. Club Deville: A hipster hangout. Great outdoor area that now features bands often. Indie-rock is the main staple at this joint. Mostly local bands, but sometimes touring bands are featured.

11. The Mohawk: Another hipster hangout for the late twenties/thirty-something set. Owners have been successful in turning
this formerly cursed location into a crucial component of the live music
scene. Indie-rock/pop/dance touring acts frequent the outside stage,
while the inside stage keeps it mainly local. Transmission Entertainment,
which features Graham Williams, the former booker of Emo's and local booker Rosa Madriz, is the main reason this bar is so successful.

These bars embody the Red River feel but aren't located on Red River

The Jackalope: Same grungy old skool Red River feel.
Beauty Bar: Hipsters on cocaine. Live music, mainly dance, dj and indie acts.
The Side Bar: Cool little hangout bar with stiff drinks.
Creekside Lounge: Also a nice little low-key hangout spot. They also feature some live music.
Casino El Camino: Old skool hangout. An oasis on Sixth Street. Delicious burgers if you don't mind waiting a while.
Red 7: Metal, metal and more metal! Sometimes featuring emo and punk bands.

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