Playboy Votes Emo’s One of 10 Best American Rock Clubs

Fugazi at Emo's in 2002

Given our deserved or undeserved status as Live Music Capital of the World, you’d hope that a list of the top ten American rock clubs would include at least one local venue. Sure enough, Playboy included Emo’s in the top ten.

Emo’s has grown into quite the juggernaut over the past 10 years. I remember its humble beginnings in 1993 when you could see many, if not all, of the shows there for under $5. I was still lamenting the loss of the Cannibal Club when it opened and there wasn’t really another venue to take its place at the time. The demise of Liberty Lunch in the late 90’s and the subsequent stalling and, I assume, permanent death of its relocation left another void which Emo’s has filled along with Stubb’s, the only other possible contender with both an outdoor and indoor stage.

Emo’s always had the appealing combination of the indoor bar, outdoor beer garden area and then the outdoor stage, which used to face Sixth Street, but was reversed sometime in the mid-90’s, if I recall. The expansion of the outdoor area and recent opening of the lounge has nearly completed their domination of the northeast corner of Sixth and Red River. Emo’s has its haters these days, but I’ve seen tons of amazing shows there: Candiria, Don Walser, Flametrick Subs, Turbonegro, Scratch Acid, Starfish, johnboy, Cherubs, Mono Men, Beastie Boys, L7, At The Drive-In, Burning Airlines, Fugazi, Mastodon, Jack O’ Fire, Sebadoh, X, Unsane, Shellac, El Vez, Rocket from the Crypt…I’m sure I’m forgetting several others. I missed the SXSW performances of Johnny Cash and Beck, which have achieved legendary status over the years.

Playboy has good timing with the list. It’s the annual free week at Emo’s starting today and running until Jan. 8th. Shows on all three stages (inside, outside and the lounge) are free. You can check their site for the schedule. Check out Crash Gallery (outside) on Thursday night, fresh off their throw down with some rogues down south, Quien Es Boom on Friday (lounge) and Tia Carrera (outside) and The Crack Pipes (inside) on Saturday.

Playboy came up with a decent list. First Avenue in Minneapolis is a venerable club. I’ve been to Doug Fir in Portland which has an amazing restaurant in addition to the live venue downstairs. New York has at least a few other possibilities: Irving Plaza, maybe? And the Black Cat is better than 9:30 Club? Perhaps my Metroblogging brethren will give their opinions?

(h/t Brooklyn Vegan)

3 Comments so far

  1. Pat Doyle (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 11:28 am

    It’s one of the few venues in town which consistently pays it’s talent (local or touring)a fair wage for attracting thirsty customers. (They actually maintain a budget for talent – what a novel concept!!) Ownership and management have always understood which side their bread is buttered on, and that’s the primary reason this club has achieved it’s well-deserved place as Austin’s premier rock club. So many Austin clubs could learn much by adopting Emos booking policy. So the question is: why haven’t they, given Emo’s success?

  2. ttrentham (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

    Do have experience with Beerland? Mine’s been that they always try to do right by their bands as well. We’ve always been treated well there.

    Beerland generally seems to focus more on local acts than Emo’s. It’s generally been my experience that it’s tougher to get into Emo’s than other clubs, but that may just be my perception and, honestly, I’ve left getting in there up to others in the past. Maybe it’s time I gave it a shot myself.

    I missed that Emo’s is up for the Plug Awards’ Live Music Venue of the Year as well.

  3. chadwick (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

    the black cat was a good choice, i would go to shows there over the 9:30 club

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