Canadian transplants Eric Owen and Kevin McKweon have made a name for themselves in Austin as a hard rocking duo with their band Black Pistol Fire. Having recently released their third full-length album, 'Hush or Howl,' the two are on a rampage and can't be stopped. On Friday Black Pistol Fire play an album release show at Stubb's.
Apr 16, 2014
Consisting of Justin Wade Tam, Leslie Rodriguez, Bobby Chase, Joshua Wolak, and Ben Jones, the Nashville-based band Humming House are doing big things with their folky sound. This weekend the band returns to Austin for a show at the Old Settler's Music Festival. Interview by Neil Ferguson.
Apr 9, 2014
On Monday night the Southern Soul Assembly, an acoustic tour featuring Luther Dickinson, JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, and Anders Osborne, came to Austin for a show at the Texas Union Ballroom. Review by Neil Ferguson. Photos by Arthur VanRooy.
Apr 8, 2014
On Thursday night the Brooklyn-based funk band known as Lettuce played a show at Emo's. Review by Neil Ferguson. Photos by Arthur VanRooy.
Apr 5, 2014

REVIEW: Emo's East and the Butthole Surfers

The legendary Butthole Surfers played a show at the brand new Emo's East Sunday night. The Horn's Neil Ferguson passes on his opinions of the new venue and his experience there.

On Sunday night, the iconic Austin club Emo’s held a grand opening of their brand new venture Emo’s East with a show from legendary psychedelic rockers the Butthole Surfers. I’ll get to the music in a little bit, because most of you are probably wondering what the venue itself is all about.

For those completely in the dark about the new venue, it is appropriately and bluntly titled Emo’s East, because it is located east of downtown on E. Riverside Drive at the site of another iconic, but closed, Austin club, the Back Room.

Emo’s East is technically a $2 million renovation of the now deceased metal club. However, there are very few recognizable remnants of Back Room at the new venue. This is not a bad thing by any means, but calling it a "renovation" is a bit of a stretch. The outside of the club is basic and modern looking (the club was designed by Michael Hsu, architect of Uchi) with a brightly lit Emo’s sign that distinguishes the venue from the landscape of pawn shops, taco stands, and fast food establishments that line East Riverside.

There are an ample amount of parking spaces (around 600 from what I hear), but they are scattered between the street, the venue, and at least two other random parking lots, making parking pretty tricky. This show was sold out, so maybe I am being unfair. Parking may be a little chaotic, but it is nowhere near the pain of trying to find a spot for a show downtown.

As a brand spanking new venue, Emo’s East has pros and cons. This is to be expected with any new venue. I’ll start with the pros by saying that the club and its layout is a wonderful performance space that is ideally suited for all types of concerts. The space is very wide with a ceiling almost 50 feet high, allowing the sound to circulate and be more dynamic. The space is also wide enough that even with a sold out show, it does not feel over-crowded and packed. I was able to move through the crowd with no issues, and I found that in most areas of the venue, the sound and stage view was consistently good. The house lights and sound are top notch.

Now on to the cons, which I will say are mostly kinks that will probably be worked out in the future. Despite having three bars, there were long, slow-moving lines for most of the night. The bathroom was no different, and I got the sense that they may be a slightly too small when it comes to sold out shows at a venue this size. There is an outdoor patio that I didn’t even bother to check out, because it looked uncomfortably packed with people. These are all issues that will most likely be worked out over time and would not prevent me from coming to future shows.

Speaking of which, the Butthole Surfers played a hard-rocking set of their psychedelic speed metal, ripping through a classic repertoire of songs such as “Pepper,” Mark Says Alright,” “Lady Sniff”, and an awesome “Negro Observers.” The set was a short hour and twenty minutes, but the Surfers proved to the crowd that they can still deliver their unique brand of insanely trippy rock n’ roll. Anytime a lead singer can use a custom FX rack (known to some fans as Gibbytronix), play a saxophone, and sing through a megaphone all in one set, the show is bound to be wild and completely out there.

The crowd was pumped up and showed it by moshing and crowd surfing. I think it’s safe to say most people walked out of the new Emo’s East with minds blown, faces melted, and just all out excitement about Austin’s newest live music venue. It may not be downtown, but Emo’s East will likely hold a firm place in the Austin music scene.

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