the saddest news of the year is that Room 710

in Austin is shutting down after 10 years

the sad part about it is that its been a labor of love for UCSB alumn Asher Garber who not only opened up the club to up n coming bands, but also to LAist and later the LA Times.

but whats worse is the Red River club scene was basically started by Asher and his unique vision to put Isla Vista style grungy punk into the mix of Austin’s eclectic music stylings.

Austinist interviewed our man today who reflected on his reign of awesome:

[Austinist:] What was the Red River St. music scene like back then as compared with now? What do you consider to be (a) positive changes and (b) negative changes on Red River St. since Room 710 set up shop?

[Asher:] The bands that established the Red River scene were never appreciated by the (Austin) Chronicle, and so not many people knew what we had going on. When we started in 2000, the only places open on our block were the Red Eyed Fly, Bull McCabes, and Atomic Cafe. Stubb’s had their shows, but we just did our own thing. We began with 3 band nights, moved on to 4 band nights. We did a couple 10 bands in two nights. (The Independence CD compilation is a good guide to what we had going on back then.) When Beerland opened, it brought another venue that could play 3 or 4 bands a night, and we got to see how the different places got people to interact. It was easy to co-exist. Add Elysium taking over Atomic, Headhunters, and then Side Bar around the corner and that was the basis of our district. We pooled our resources and bought an ad. Got free red ink.

2004 saw the start of the boom in our neighborhood and 2005 was a real tough year for 710. (Woody left, the smoking ban, added competition.) When I read on the Austinist that The Mohawk was seen as “Red River North” and Emo’s was considered “Red River South” I realized that the Red River District was something beyond us.

[Austinist:] What is the number one reason for Room 710 shutting down? Why has it been a struggle to generate profits at the club?

[Asher:] There are a lot of reasons, but the bottom line is that it takes a lot of money to run a live music venue, and between the economy, the taxes, and a flight from downtown (whether by fear, economy, or hassle), 710 simply isn’t a solvent institution.

Read the whole Austinist interview with Asher here, and if you want to see the diversity of taste that Asher has, check out his top ten list of Room 710 touring bands that he did for me when i was running LAist.

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