715 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78701
Written by: Haley Howle
Red Eyed Fly is one of the legendary music venues located on the strip of Red River Street in downtown Austin, known as the Red River District. Established in 1998, Red Eyed Fly features an outside stage with loud, live music shows as well as an indoor lounge for those that want to relax.
Owner Hugh McIntosh has been playing music since he was sixteen and when he decided to open the venue, patrons began making up stories about where the name comes from, but Hugh won’t give it any definition. “We just liked the way the words sounded together. It really doesn’t mean anything at all.”
Either way, the name has stuck and is synonymous with the Red River scene. The space appears small at first glance, but its lounge and outdoor stage actually house large crowds. The lounge is dive-y with a dark mahogany bar, couches, a jukebox and a small stage for weeknight shows. It’s a great place to grab a martini or gin and tonic. Adults only please, the lounge portion of Red Eyed Fly is 21 and up only.
The venue often gets pigeon holed as a rock club, but it features all genres of music, and as an official showcasing venue during SXSW, you never know what you’ll see there. In addition, if you’re looking for good music on a Friday or Saturday you can count on Red Eyed Fly to provide it. The bands have to jump through a few hoops before being booked in the coveted weekend spot. First, they have to prove themselves in a less than desirable Sunday – Wednesday spot. If they can draw a crowd there, they get to play Thursday night and so on. By the time a band is given the ‘ok’ to play a Friday or Saturday night, they have done all the work to promote and define themselves and will certainly draw a crowd.
Think of Red Eyed Fly as a sort of school of rock, if you will. Hugh provides learning opportunities for young bands by teaching them to run sound and navigate the production side of performances. This sort of relationship between Hugh and management, and the bands, serves the music community by bettering the quality and knowledge of musicians in this fair city. It is an exemplary practice and one that promises longevity of the club.