Emo's East debuts this weekend
One of downtown Austin's best-known live music venues is heading east.
Emo's, a fixture on Red River Street for two decades, will debut a satellite location at 2015 E. Riverside Drive at 8 p.m. Sunday with a show featuring the Butthole Surfers.
The indoor stage at the downtown location will remain open, marketing manager Ross Bennett said, but the outdoor portion will be closed.
"Austin is upgrading everything," Bennett said, "and the plans for downtown weren't matching our plans."
Emo's East can hold as many as 1,700 people, Bennett said. That's more than the inside and outside portions of the Red River location combined.
"We're stepping up our game," Bennett said. "Twenty years ago, Emo's was a cutting-edge venue, but it's small by today's standards. People expect more."
Eddie Hudson, production manager at Emo's, said the club's new location features high-end lighting and sound systems.
"This stuff's expensive," Hudson said. "We wanted to make it a premier venue."
"It's worth it," said Bob Beckstead with Big House Sound, the Austin-based company installing the club's audio equipment. "To get bigger acts in here, Emo's went with the stuff they want."
Though Bennett, Hudson and others say Emo's East is bigger and better, it's about two miles away from the downtown bar scene. They say they're not worried for a number of reasons.
The club has traditionally focused on alternative music, but additional genres will be woven into the schedule, Bennett said, which he thinks will help broaden its appeal.
"The shows here aren't walk-up shows," Bennett said. "And I think the college kids in the area are superexcited to have a club nearby."
A number of new multifamily residential projects are also under construction within walking distance.
Another perk at Emo's East, Bennett said, is free parking — and lots of it. About 400 spaces are available on site and at adjacent businesses. That'll help cut costs for the club too, he said.
"We spend so much on parking downtown," Bennett said.
Securing space for performers' tour buses alone is costing the venue about $3,000 each month, he said.
Package everything together and Bennett believes Emo's East will offer one of the best live music experiences in the city, rivaling even the new, multimillion-dollar ACL Live at the Moody Theater downtown.
"We're going to really wow people," he said.