Word from manager Johnny Pink spread via group message to promoters and musicians today that The Underground—the subterranean bar and venue connected to legendary watering hole Evangelo's—would close effective immediately, leaving many in the music scene at a loss for what comes next. The Underground has long played host to more underground types of music, from metal and hip-hop to punk and rock, and its closure is a grim reminder that the downtown nightlife scene has struggled greatly in recent years.
In the message, which was obtained by SFR, Pink stated that "the bar will be closed and cease to function on any level for an unforeseen amount of time … as a result, all shows you may have arranged … at The Underground are cancelled. I apologize to all my brethren in the performing and music scene."
"I'll survive, but it's definitely a loss to Santa Fe's underground scene," Kronos Creative's Augustine Ortiz tells SFR. Kronos has produced countless metal shows in recent years, and Ortiz says he's currently scrambling to find new venues for three upcoming shows and hoping that Second Street Brewery's Rufina Taproom booker Eliza Lutz (who also books at DIY venue Ghost and founded Matron Records) is willing take on more shows.
"I'm always game for doing that, and we've had some great metal stuff at Second Street already," Lutz tells SFR. "And Ghost as well; it's difficult to run a venue space in this town in general, and The Underground had a good run. I hope the spaces I run can help pick up some of that slack."
Outstanding Citizens Collective co-founder and hip-hop promoter Zach Maloof was taken aback as well. "It's like Corazón all over again," he said, referring to the closure of another of Santa Fe's music venues in 2011. Fellow hip-hop performer Pablo Paz, who also goes by DJ Shatter, said that "as a regular DJ, I wish there would have been more notice given, but The Underground provided a home for artists all over the country who may have never played in downtown Santa Fe—it was an extension to our music scene in a way that showed you a truly different side of Santa Fe, and it will be surely missed."
With Skylight, another San Francisco Street bar, paring back hours earlier this year after it nearly closed, and another non-traditional venue like The Underground closing, one does wonder if this heralds a trend for local venues. This is, however, the second time The Underground has faced an uncertain future. In 2013, its original manager Chris Quintana was unceremoniously pushed out (June 25, 2013: "You and Not Q"), but Evangelo's owner Nick Klonis tells SFR the space will continue to operate as a music venue and will reopen soon.
"The business will still exist, just with a different name," he tells SFR. "We will open again in two weeks, come down in two weeks and see the surprise." What this means exactly, of course, remains to be seen.
SFR has reached out to Johnny Pink for comment and will update this story as we are able.