2538 Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78705
Hours: Daily 3pm-2am
Written by: Ellie Julier
Hole in the Wall has been the local joint where Austin bands go to cut their teeth before moving on to fame. Since 1974, it has built a reliable reputation for cheap beer and local underground music 6 nights a week across 2 stages. From the old wooden bars stocked full with libation to the graffiti and signed picture frames on the walls, the Hole in the Wall is well-worn and well-loved.
The front room is a simple 4-walled space with a stage backed by street-view windows. The 2nd room and stage is much larger, and out back is a patio with long rows of picnic tables under stands of Christmas lights. What this place has done right is add layer upon layer of character over the years creating a bona-fide entertaining dive. Pool tables, an arcade, and an early 3pm opening time create a popular, friendly and noticeably laid-back vibe. “Everyone should be comfortable here,” attests manager Alex Livingstone. By this he means everyone from old Austin hippies to newly legal 21-year-olds just out of class, both of whom you will see on a regular basis.
The music at Hole in the Wall falls mostly into the genres of rock and folk, but weirder and diverse musicians that don’t have a niche are encouraged to play and make the place better. The club welcomes anyone who wants to perform. “Anyone,” Alex repeats. One of the major benefits of gigging here is that because there are two full bars and a late night menu, you’ve already got a built-in audience. The front stage is a do-it-yourself, bare bones platform, with small cocktail tables for the audience. The rear stage is fully equipped and can handle large volumes of sound without busting. “A lot of people learn how to play music here, for better or for worse,” says Alex, although he’s proud, naturally, of the major names that have played the venue in the past: Jonathan Richmond, Amplified Heat, Fastball, and Spoon, among others.
Alex and the staff are renovating a back house and will soon be hosting Wednesday night DJ sets in a diner-by-day, dance party-by-night space. The majority of the staff play in bands themselves that perform at Hole in the Wall time after time. They are a friendly bunch and welcoming at all times of the day, but if that doesn’t convince you to stop in, perhaps the little A-frame chalkboard outside the door will. It currently reads in colorful caps and lower-case scrawl:
Reasons to Enter
- We have Whiskey (because no good story starts out w/ “I Ate a Salad”)
- Not Fratty at All
- Kid ’n Play would party here
- Bartender actually showered today