Red River Music Venue Barracuda Closes

Rent due and no revenue, thriving club shutters

In what ranks as the most devastating loss to the live original music scene Downtown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Barracuda has gone out of business.

A Giant Dog performing at Barracuda in February (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

An early morning social media post served as the bearer of bad news. “To everyone who’s walked through our doors at 611 E. 7th Street, Austin, TX: The time has come for Barracuda Club to bid adieu. From the incredible artists to our amazing staff, we thank you for making us part of your lives for the last five years. For our going away party, we ask that you share a memory of us with #Barrys4ever.”

“It’s just that we can’t keep paying rent and having no revenue – aside from t-shirt sales and fan club stuff,” explained Barracuda Senior Talent Buyer Dan Holloway on Wednesday morning.

Doubling up with a spacious inside room and an even larger, self-contained back patio for big local concerts, roadshows, and South by Southwest, the club opened in the winter of 2015 at the address where Red 7 previously held reign before being bucked by high rent. At that time, the future of the live music scene on Red River appeared in doubt, which Barracuda proved wrong over the next five years. The club’s proprietors, which included Hotel Vegas co-owners Brian Tweedy and Jason McNeely, plus musician Max Vandever and investor Cliff White, completely transformed the space, reorienting the indoor stage, wrapping the front rooms in woodwork, and ultimately giving the property an intimate club aesthetic despite its deceptively roomy size.

“That’s the dream of every venue: you have a club where people come to see the bands then want to hang out afterwards, sit on benches outside with their friends and have drinks,” reflects Holloway. “We came as close to that as any other venue I’ve worked for. It was a bare bones set-up at the beginning, but Jason laid out his vision. It reminded me of the classic clubs I grew up with, like the Bottle Neck in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Hi Tone in Memphis, where I started booking.

“And the patio reminded me of the classic-era Emo’s. We had the opportunity to bring the bands we wanted and really put together the vibe that was envisioned for it.”

Hikes’ Nay Wilkins crowd-surfing during a show at Barracuda (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Colloquially called “Barrys,” the business quickly became a go-to spot in Austin’s heralded music scene, hosting marquee local shows while also serving as a popular room for touring acts from around the globe. It also stood out as highly utilized space for venue-oriented festivals like Levitation, Austin Terror Fest (Now Oblivian Access), and the homegrown phenomenon Free Week.

Like virtually all other Austin music interests, Barracuda suffered a devastating one-two punch in 2020. After investing heavily into the programming, production, and product for the week of SXSW, the global gathering got canceled over the threat of COVID-19. What’s followed remains a scenario where high-capacity general admission shows are unsafe to orchestrate.

Such a combination continues to threaten the livelihood of venues far and wide.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Barracuda
Playback: Barracuda on the Block
Playback: Barracuda on the Block

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 11, 2015

More by Kevin Curtin
Watch: Urban Heat’s “Running Out of Time”
Watch: Urban Heat’s “Running Out of Time”
Pandemic fosters a literally post-punk ATX trio

July 6, 2020

Vanilla Ice Cancels Austin Show After Blowback
Vanilla Ice Cancels Austin Show After Blowback
“I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy in Austin”

July 2, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Barracuda, Jason McNeely, Brian Tweedy, Dan Holloway, Red River, Max Vandever, Cliff White, Free Week, Levitation

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle