In about two months, The Masquerade will relocate to its new home on the westside of Atlanta.
The plan, said Greg Green, talent buyer for the beloved Old Fourth Ward venue, is to use the Wrecking Ball ATL festival on Aug. 13-14 as a final blowout and move into the new digs at 1421 Fairmont Ave. the following weekend.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Green said Wednesday about the impending move. “It’s bittersweet for sure. I will be sad to leave a building where I spent the majority of my adult life, but it’s also an exciting new opportunity to expand our horizons a little and create something from scratch.”
The Masquerade received its final walking papers earlier this year when plans were solidified to build a $60 million mixed-use development called North + Line on the surrounding property. The venue itself is protected as an Atlanta landmark, so despite recent reports that the building was being demolished, no such thing is occurring (the current Masquerade will be repurposed, possibly as a restaurant, though nothing has been officially determined).
The new Masquerade – which, yes, will retain its iconic name – will occupy about 30,000-square-feet of a single-level warehouse, which Green believes housed a battery factory in another lifetime.
One of the unique designations of The Masquerade is its trio of floors – Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Even though the new venue is single level, three performance spaces with those names will be in place, thanks to a sound-buffering design.
As for the location, Green said he and the Masquerade team wanted to remain in town, and that the westside “seemed like the right place.”
“It was mainly the building that found us. It’s an area on the rise, it has good interstate access,” he said. “We didn’t want to get too far away (from the current location) and this is only about 4 miles so we won’t have to re-educate anyone.”
Longtime Masquerade-goers don’t have to worry about too much else changing. As Green noted with a laugh, “It’s a formula that’s worked for 26 years. It will just be nicer. And there will be bathrooms that work.”
A plan for parking is in the works – “It won’t be the struggle that it is now,” Green said – and the music, always a mix of roof-rattling punk, rock and hip-hop, will maintain its rawness. But now, with an upgraded sound system and better production facilities, there is also the opportunity to “expand our palette,” Green said.
The venue is famous for having hosted some of the first concerts by Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters, The Dave Matthews Band and Fugazi, and Green is aware that those who attend the Wrecking Ball festival might be tempted to want to take a piece of the building home.
Sorry, no pieces of wall allowed, but, “We’re encouraging everyone to come out to the Ball to have one last run through the building. We’ll have signing panels that people can write memories on to take to the new place. It will be a celebration for the neighborhood,” he said.
The two-day event will feature about 70 acts including Quicksand, L7, Dinosaur Jr., Drive Like Jehu, Deerhunter, Gorilla Biscuits and more and will take place on the Heaven, Hell and Purgatory stages, as well as two festival stages in neighboring Old Fourth Ward Park.
Tickets begin at $65 and can be purchased at The Masquerade box office and www.ticketmaster.com.
As tough as it will be to say goodbye to the longtime musical mecca, Green is confident that the gritty charm that envelopes The Masquerade will travel westward.
“I like to say that the heart of Masquerade isn’t in the brick and mortar, but the music and the people,” he said. “And we’re bringing those.”