Any hope for Antone's?
A DIY music and arts space is set to move into Antone’s — Austin's iconic live music club at Fifth Street and Lavaca — and open by April 1, CultureMap has learned.
The space will be known as The Infest and is being opened by Michigan natives Ben and Chelsea Riseman, who had been in talks over the summer to move into the former Emo’s location on Red River. That deal fell through in August, opening up the chance to move into the building that holds Austin's storied blues and rock club. Antone’s is closing due to declining attendance in recent years.
"Punk rock will be a big piece of what we do there, but we don’t want it to seem like this is just a bunch of punks coming in and taking the place over.”
The 30-year-old Riseman ran a similar space, called Project Infest, out of a converted Los Angeles warehouse from 2009 to 2011 but had to close down that operation because of difficulties gaining permits. While live music heavily focused on punk rock was a big ingredient of Project Infest, the space also featured open mic nights, art exhibits, plays and even, on some occasions, massive games of community dodge ball.
Riseman says a similar spirit will inhabit the former Antone’s space, which he plans on keeping mostly in its current configuration.
“There will be a large music base along with live drawing, open mics, spoken word performances and different kinds of plays,” he says. “In LA we let anything happen under the sun there and so what we do here is based largely on what ideas people bring forward, and how involved the community gets.”
Riseman moved to Austin last year because of the city’s live music reputation and friendlier business climate and he says he’s looking forward to keeping music and art in a space that could’ve easily given way to condominium development. He insists he and his partners plan to work hard to build a positive reputation in one of Austin’s most iconic rooms and turned down an opportunity to move into the nearby Republic Live space.
“People hopefully will understand that we’re trying to take this over in the right way and keep the spirit in there of a club that started out kind of a cult place, on the fringe of what people listened to,” Riesman says.
“We want to provide a platform for people who want to get all different kinds of things out there. Punk rock will be a big piece of what we do there, but we don’t want it to seem like this is just a bunch of punks coming in and taking the place over.”
Antone’s could possibly find a new home at Beauty Ballroom on East Riverside Drive, the place's co-owner Frank Hendrix tells CultureMap.