by Felicia DeInnocentiis | Staff Writer
Driving on highway 281 North, junior Kaitlyn Brandt passes the previous location of Scout Bar, a formerly well-known music venue whose closing was marked by the removal of it’s luminous star logo.
“I found out a couple of days ago,” Brandt said. “I thought it was weird, because I always see a lot of cars around there. They used to have a lot of good shows. I don’t know why it closed down, though.”
Scout Bar was a bar and music club, one of the few venues relatively close to the Johnson community. Though it was mostly targeted at the 21-and-over crowd, shows marked “All Ages” allowed teenagers inside for the night. Such performances included that of Saving Abel, Framing Hanley, Hollywood Undead, Powerman 5000, Kittie, and The Toadies.
Though teenagers were permitted, drinking and smoking was still authorized inside the building for legal patrons, which didn’t create the best of atmospheres for young partygoers.
“[Scout Bar is] different from other venues I’ve been to, because it’s really small in there,” Brandt said. “If you’re there for a concert, you want to be able to focus on the band instead of the people at the bar and stuff. It depends on what you go there for, though.”
The reasons behind Scout Bar’s sudden departure have caused much speculation. The most notorious explanation among student patrons is that the bar’s liquor license was not paid on time. Michelle Wilder, the former manager of Scout Bar, explained the situation.
“Originally we had some issues with…the back taxes. When the bar was originally bought out from the previous owners, there was a lot of debt that was still owed. We took over that debt, and we pretty much tried to take as much and everything we could so we wouldn’t get behind,” she said.
Though the taxes were paid off, a suspension on the liquor license persisted, and Scout Bar sought a surety bond.
“[We were] trying to get that surety bond, and at that time, apparently, the rent wasn’t paid, and so the landlord changed the locks and I just decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore,” Wilder said. “I just wasn’t going to fight for it anymore.”
Wilder went through many arduous tasks to keep Scout Bar open and successful, so it was a painful experience to see it shut down.
“It was really hard on me, it was really traumatic,” she said. “I was promoting and booked all the bands. I did everything; it was all me and I just couldn’t do it anymore. It just felt like I was doing it by myself. My employees were suffering, I guess I was suffering myself; I was really miserable. I just wasn’t happy anymore,” Wilder said.
With Scout Bar gone, Wilder has started plans for her next live music project, The Inferno Room, located on I-10 and Huebner. However, she is making a last attempt to get back the Scout Bar name.
“I do have some investors right now, and I’m still working with the same promoters I was working with before, and I believe I will have a new venue opened here within the next three weeks,” she said. “Now I’m trying to buy Scout Bar’s name back and turn it into Scout Bar SA. But if I can’t, then it’ll be called the Inferno Room, and it’s just going to be a live music venue. I’m going to be doing the same stuff with big bands.”
The Inferno Room will have a similar atmosphere to Scout Bar but will open with some improvements.
“It’ll be bigger, the A/C’s will work a lot better, the stage will be bigger,” Wilder said.
Rather than settle for managing a cover band haven with only a few tours scattered in the line-up, Wilder dreams of bringing famous bands to her stage that will give The Inferno Room more renown. She hopes to offer admission at a cheaper price than what a stadium would charge.
“We’ll be bringing in bigger bands, like bigger named bands than what we had at Scout Bar. We’re going to be more into the local music chain – we’re going back into that. I’m not going be a tribute-band central bar. I want live music from original artists, [but] I don’t mind cover bands here and there like the Spazzmatics, a little Eighties cover band. I want to bring the big big bands in, like getting Godsmack to play.”
The Inferno Room is Wilder’s future, but she still reflects fondly on her good times and success of her previous venue. Though the location is closed, Scout Bar’s legacy lives on.
“[Scout Bar] made a really big impact on San Antonio. There was nothing out there better.We did really good; I just don’t understand what happened to the money.There’s only so much you can do. But yeah, it was very successful. It’s been four months, almost five months that the bar’s been closed, and I’m still getting interviews about it. People still talk to me about it everywhere I go. They even took the sign down and people still recognize it. But I still talk to customers; my e-mail is still the same and I get calls about questions or what happened to their favorite bands, and I let everyone know exactly what’s going on.”
While Wilder remains occupied with setting the stage for her new venue, teens are still currently deprived of a decent place for live shows and good times. The local venue, Zombies, which also held general admission to teens for live music, is in question over its current state. Wilder says that Zombies has been closed even before Scout Bar shut down although its website claims that it will be reopening at the end of December . The remaining option is The White Rabbit.
“There’s not a lot in San Antonio that you can go to for age appropriate, under-eighteen [clubs]. Yeah, there is the White Rabbit and the only other one I know of outside of Scout Bar with bands I listen to [is] Cowboys – that has country people. Still, that’s not popular with teens,” Brandt said.
Wilder acknowledges that there is a lack of venues available for teen patronage and she is making sure that her next project will gain the same credibility as places such as The White Rabbit and the late Scout Bar.
“I am really trying to create a place you guys can come to. I really am trying,” Wilder said.