Closing Down The Back Room

Austin’s landmark rock club The Back Room is closing at the end of July after 33 years, possibly to be razed for condominiums, but not without a series of “last blasts.”

The 600-capacity club has recently been the scene for Texas hip-hop but is historically known as Austin’s home for metal. The Back Room served as a launch pad for a host of metal bands, including Pantera, and hosted touring acts including Motorhead and other groups including the Ramones and Public Enemy.

“There’s a lot of history there, it’s almost a landmark,” editor Anna Ramirez Sanchez told the University of Texas’ Daily Texan. “I think that’s why so many people are expressing their disbelief that it’s shutting down.”

It will go out with a bang rather than a whimper if GM Sean McCarthy has his way. He has brought back former Back Room manager Mark Olivarez to oversee its final month.

McCarthy also announced a series of final concerts featuring the famous, like Deicide, and the not-so-famous bands that have graced its stage over the years. Former Dangerous Toys frontman Jason McMasters will close the venue.

“I can tell you he will be the last one to walk off that stage,” McCarthy told the Austin American-Statesman. Dangerous Toys, part of the hair metal explosion in the late 1980s, got its start at the club.

The Back Room was one of the first Austin clubs to host showcase gigs during the South By Southwest conference and music festival, and has held at least one such show every year during SXSW, according to the paper.

Speculation in the Austin music community is that The Back Room will be torn down to make way for condominiums. The club’s location is zoned for mixed use, including condos, but the property had yet to be sold at press time.

McCarthy told the American-Statesman the closing had nothing do with the recent sexual assault charges filed against an Austin man whom authorities say met at least one of his female victims, who was aged somewhere between 19 and 25, at The Back Room.

The venue’s closing “has been in the works for over a year,” McCarthy said. “The club business has changed. After 33 years, we thought it was time to close.”