Walking down Dirty Sixth just got a little weirder. This isn’t the kind of weird that recent Austin transplants have come to relish about the city, but rather the kind of weirdness lacking of familiarity. As of this weekend, Emo’s outdoor stage is no more. This isn’t to be mourned long, as the venue is moving shop to East Riverside, where Emo’s East has been up and running since September 11. The indoor stage, affectionately known as Emo’s Jr. will remain on Red River through SXSW. While the venue move is an upgrade in terms of technology and expanded capacity (not to mention seemingly more convenient parking), the downtown location still remains an Austin stalwart in the retrospective of nearly two decades of live music excellence and will be missed. Furthermore, it is interesting to see how this will further affect the recent gentrification of East Riverside.
There are a lot of great venues down Red River, but none as familiar as Emo’s. The majority of the shows I attended in the past half-decade have been in the outdoor stage. Minus the Bear, Russian Circles, and P.O.S. popped my Emo’s Cherry in the fall of 2006. Still a freshman in college, Emo’s catalyzed my immersion into the “Live Music Capital of the World.” On any given night, you could see a great touring band or a great live band you’ve only read about in the Austin Chronicle. Either way the eclecticism of the bands you can see at Emo’s is massive. This was further accentuated by its location downtown. While it’s great to see the venue make upgrades and increase capacity, the memories of the downtown location are still embalmed in whatever that building becomes.
I’ve spoken to friends who went to high school in McAllen in the late ’90s who remember road-tripping up to Austin to see bands like Further Seems Forever and Hot Rod Circuit. This came full circle with last year’s reunions of Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get-Up Kids both playing the outdoor stage months apart. Everybody knows Emo’s and the downtown location will certainly be missed. Whether the fondest memories include getting hammered at the outdoor stage bar and having the convenience of some of the greatest pizza downtown Austin has to offer within the venue, or the nostalgia of leaving a show drenched in sweat with vocal cords warped from singing all night to sixth street to hit on sorority girls totally out of your league, Emo’s will always remain a staple of downtown Austin, whether it is physically there or not.
It would be great to read your favorite Emo’s memories. Leave them in the comments.