Cornerstone Austin music venue celebrates a decade-long empire with a month of special events
As far as aptly named Austin businesses go, Empire Control Room & Garage takes the cake. After 10 years in business, it has its own gravitational pull; That is, it's unreasonably hard to walk past without making an impromptu visit, or even just checking to see who's playing that night.
The venue is celebrating its anniversary this August 4-26 through a series called "A Decade of Empire." Every Friday and Saturday night throughout the month brings new shows, a mini-museum of Empire photos and "ephemera," and giveaways, among other unnamed surprises.
Although every Austin venue has some kind of a tone or usual crowd, Empire really is the everyman's venue. Thanks to its position in the Red River Cultural District (RRCD) and its openness in booking, it hosts everything from industry talks, to thoroughly alternative rock, to queer-coded pop dance parties.
Empire rocked Hot Summer Nights, an annual festival of free shows organized by the RRCD, hosting exceptional shows by Austin bands like Foxtales, Bigfoot & The Gregs, and Caleb de Casper. Another event in the winter, Free Week, shows just how busy Empire and the venues around it are year-round.
The RRCD and Empire are big parts of each other's success, and a portion of proceeds from "A Decade of Empire" will benefit the district's nonprofit. The one exception, a VIP closing party on August 26, benefits DJ Chicken George, who is raising money for cancer treatment.
"This is a momentous occasion for us," said COO and co-owner of Heard Presents and Empire Dave Machinist in a press release. "We started as a small band of musical misfits, and today, we stand proudly as a pillar in the Live Music Capital. It's been a wild ride, and we owe our success to the unwavering support of musicians, music lovers, and our dedicated staff. To show our appreciation, we're throwing an epic celebration that will last an entire month!"
The release describes an uncertain time for the music scene when the venue opened, "with major consolidation in the live music marketplace and the threat of redevelopment by condo and hoteliers looming over the area now known as the Red River Cultural District." More than just celebrating a milestone anniversary, the monthlong installation tracks the growth of the area through the various shows and conservation efforts that have passed through the venue over the years.
"I am so proud of our Empire family and everything we have been able to achieve together," said CEO and co-owner of Heard and Empire Stephen Sternschein. "I am grateful for the continued support of all of the music people in this city as we look towards another next ten years of making as much noise as possible. We want everyone to be a part of our birthday month and to prepare for some serious mayhem!"
Here's the mayhem on the schedule:
- August 4: Klub Nocturno hosts a "Rock En Espanol" party throughout the venue
- August 11: Empire and Float Fest present Slenderbodies and Daft Disko
- August 12: Empire hosts a SIMS Foundation Fundraiser, “Moondance Mini Fest"
- August 18: Whitney and Tunesmiths play
- August 19: Fred Armisen plays and does comedy
- August 25: Robert Glasper plays
- August 26: Empire presents a benefit for DJ Chicken George ft. Riders Against the Storm and Blackillac with Third Root and Adrian Quesada, plus an anniversary party
"A Decade of Empire" events welcome visitors who purchase individual tickets or a limited edition "Key To Empire" ($250) which grants access to every show, and includes one drink per show and a commemorative T-shirt. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit empireatx.com.