Austin Texas and Long Island New York are about as far away from each other socially as they are geographically, but both were hit by venue losses, as the outdoor stage of legendary Red River Road venue Emo’s and Farmingdale NY’s Crazy Donkey both shut their doors this past weekend.
While no statement was given by management at Emo’s initially, numerous reports and rumors spread around the web, and it was finally confirmed that Emo’s hosted their last outdoor show with Death from Above 1979’s and The Vaccines this past Saturday (September 17). The smaller indoor stage will apparently close following South By Southwest 2012. Meanwhile, after about a decade in business, the Crazy Donkey held its last show on Sunday (18) with Pepper playing the venue.
As to why both clubs closed down, the economy and changing times are to blame. Emo’s manager Mike Staples explained to The Daily Texan that “Our venue is not going in the direction that downtown wants.” At the moment, it is unclear as to who has purchased the original space and what it will become following Emo’s closing. Crazy Donkey spokesman Rick Eberle told the Long Island Press that “times are tough and they had to close their doors.” Before it’s decade-long run as the Donkey, the venue was called the Downtown Bar & Grill and gave birth to bands like Glassjaw and Brand New. The Donkey is likely to be gutted and turned into a restaurant.
There’s a bit of a silver lining with Emo’s, since even though it was one of the live music crown jewels of Red River Road (along with Stubbs), the name isn’t completely dead. Owners recently opened a new, much larger venue called Emo’s East on East Riverside Drive. Unfortunately since it’s a bit of a walk and removed from downtown, at least for us SXSW interlopers, it will seem out of place. There’s also a new venue in Long Island opening up in relatively nearby Huntington. The Paramount is a 1,500 capacity venue that seems like it’s hosting shows more upscale than the Donkey, with Elvis Costello and the Pixies among the first to play there.
While both venue closings are a bummer, the removal of Emo’s outside stage is especially sad. For the past 19 years, Emo’s was a staple venue in Austin’s music scene and SXSW. Numerous metal bands like Behemoth, the Melvins, Trivium and Darkest Hour (just to name a few) have graced Emo’s stage at one point or another, not to mention countless other mainstream acts like Green Day, Kings Of Leon and even Johny Cash. In fact, the first time I (Bram) saw the venue was in 2003 when I played on the outside stage with my band, who were opening for Mastodon and Clutch. The venue will be missed, even as it lives on two miles away.