Red River Shake-up

Red River shake-up: Two Austin music venues to close as a new one moves in

Red River shake-up: Austin music venues to close as a new one moves in

Red7 Red 7 Austin downtown venue crowd shot live music stage
Red7 and Red Eyed Fly will close by the end of September. Courtesy of Transmission Events

Editor's note: Red7 and Red Eyed Fly will close by the end of August, and all shows at Red7 will move to the newly opened Sidewinder. A previous version of this article noted the original closing date, which was the end of September.

It's a bittersweet day for fans of the Red River Cultural District. The downtown area that houses popular venues like Mohawk, Stubb's, Cheer Up Charlies and Beerland is losing two clubs and gaining a new one. 

On Wednesday, longstanding venues Red7 and Red Eyed Fly announced that they will close their doors, while a new venue plans to open in September.

Red7, which has been a fixture of the Austin music scene for nearly a decade, will close at the end of August. "There were definitely several different problematic things we were running into, one being that it's getting harder and harder to get the adequate insurance to operate an all-ages music venue in Texas that serves alcohol," partner and general manager Tyson Swindell tells CultureMap. "The main issue being that we were unable to work out a mutual agreement with the landlords."

"It's heartbreaking. It's gut-wrenching," Swindell says. "But at the same time, this is part of being a business owner."

The news isn't all grim. Swindell and other Red River all stars are working on a new project slated to open in the current Red Eyed Fly space on Red River Street.

Partners John Wickham, Richard Napierkowski and Benjamin Corwin have been looking to rejuvenate Red Eyed Fly since acquiring the space last spring. "This is an opportunity to refresh the Red Eyed Fly space and to bring more live music to the city. We plan to work together and use our industry experience to create a venue that is best for both the fans and the performers," Wickman said in release.

The Sidewinder team also includes Jared Cannon of Red7 and Graham Williams of Transmission Events. The space will be completely remodeled, including updates to the stage and production systems, and Prototype Vintage will assist with the aesthetics. Transmission Events will manage the show and events calendar; Cannon and Swindell will handle day-to-day affairs.

Swindell feels confident that The Sidewinder will be a successful hub for live music in Austin. "As long as the city and the people here are able to stand behind what they love — what obviously brings the money into the town — we'll be okay. It won't matter how much rent goes up or how many Californians move here. We'll be okay."

The Sidewinder is slated to open in September.