There's a new kid on the Red River block. Holy Mountain, a new 200-capacity venue and lounge, is the new face of beloved Beauty Bar — but this space is grown up.
With a completely redone interior and reconfigured outdoor habitat, Holy Mountain is a space all its own... a space that can moonlight as a rowdy indie venue, but is also cozy enough for a Monday night cocktail — just like grandpa's basement in the midwest.
Holy Mountain will make its debut on ACL weekend, first with Learning Secrets on Friday, and then on Saturday as an official ACL After Party venue with Moon Duo and Christian Bland from The Black Angels.
CultureMap caught up with Holy Mountain co-owner/general manager James Taylor for a sneak peek inside the space before the doors are officially open, and to get the dish on Holy Mountain's refined take on the Red River bar scene.
CultureMap: Was the Beauty Bar space being up for grabs your catalyst for Holy Mountain, or were you already looking to open a venue?
James Taylor: A little of both. Owning and running my own bar or music venue is something I'd been working towards for sure. I was brought in as general manager of Beauty Bar in April of last year. Once Beauty Ballroom opened on Riverside, it made sense to shut down the Beauty Bar downtown. From there it was just a matter of developing a concept and finding the right partners and investors to get involved in the new entity.
With Emo's leaving Red River, there was a void for those 200-ish capacity bands.
"We're not kids looking to rage (well, not every night). I think a lot of people wanted something a little nicer in the Red River area to go see live music or have a cocktail that wasn't a dive bar. "
CM: So you decided to run with the old Beauty Bar space. What sealed the deal?
JT: Honestly, back in February I was having conversations with Jared Cannon from Red 7 about maybe wanting to do something new with the Beauty Bar space. He was super into it, and eager to get involved. We've worked together for years and I think it was the most excited I'd seen him since Converge played Red 7 back in 2007.
I figured if he was into it, we could get other people into it. Once we we started working on the space and moving forward with the remodel, then things got really interesting.
CM: And how did that development process go?
JT: There's up and downs — there's always drama with the city on any new project, but we had some great people working on our side to handle those issues. Deciding on a name maybe have been the most contentious issue! But it really wasn't any worse than any band I've been in trying to decide on a name.
CM: Do you think the old Beauty Bar guard be happy with this iteration of the space?
JT: I don't really know if there was an old Beauty Bar guard, not in the past couple years at least. I've had a lot of conversations recently with people who hung out at Beauty Bar in the first couple years, and probably hadn't hung out there since, who are excited for something new.
Those people... we've grown up. We're not kids looking to rage (well, not every night). I think a lot of people wanted something a little nicer in the Red River area to go see live music or have a cocktail that wasn't a dive bar.
"I joke around that Holy Mountain is like hanging out in your grandfather's basement somewhere in the midwest. Wood and whiskey. "
CM: What's new?
JT: I don't think there's a single thing in this place that will make people think of Beauty Bar, other than the address. New bar, new shelving behind the bar, completely remodeled bathrooms, new stage and PA.
There will be some decorating that will take place after we've opened... the final touches I guess. But I really think that this is going to be something completely different.
CM: Waller Creek is a hot topic right now. How do you see Holy Mountain fitting into the to-be-developed district?
JT: We wanted a bar that would be able to adapt as the neighborhood changed, and I'm all for that change. I can't wait for the day I can hop on my bike and ride from Holy Mountain down to Town Lake along a beautiful new Waller Creek. Do I think that in five to 10 years we'll be neighbors with more condos and hotels? Probably. Is that going to bring on a whole set of challenges and frustrations? Most definitely. But there aren't any cranes and bulldozers outside my window just yet.
CM: You're kicking off Holy Mountain with some sweet ACL weekend shows. What can people expect?
JT: A mad house. Let's consider this the hardest "soft opening" ever. Musically, we have a Learning Secrets dance party Friday night with Omar S and Thomas Turner from Ghostland Observatory. Saturday is an Official C3 ACL after party with Moon Duo and Christian Bland from The Black Angels. Sunday I think we're going to keep it mellow, show people that we're a good spot to just hang out and have a drink... you know?
After ACL we're going to shut down for three days, build our stage (we have a temp stage currently) and do some final decorating touches. Then beginning October 18 we are open seven days a week.
CM: So, if you had to sum it up, what's the general vibe at Holy Mountain?
JT: The vibe? I joke around that Holy Mountain is like hanging out in your grandfather's basement somewhere in the midwest. Wood and whiskey.
CM: Since you're toying with the venue-slash-lounge idea, are there any musical residencies or standing gigs we should know about?
JT: I'm kicking around the idea of some residencies. Guns of Navarone is considering doing something, if we did a residency with a band it would be more in the country vein I think. DJ residency probably, not sure what, but something different than the standard Beauty Bar fare.