Downtown Phoenix's Last Exit Live Now Open

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Not that there were many kinks to be found at Last Exit Thursday night. Its sound system relayed Greyhound Soul's old-school jangle-pop and Robinson's husky vocals pretty clearly. According to Kleinlein, the only thing remaining to tackle at the venue is to give the cement floor a paint job and put up some additional exterior signage above the load-in door in the back.

While Kleinlein put in an extensive renovation of the building, which is located on Central Avenue south of downtown, it still shares some aspects with its former incarnation as the Ruby Room, which closed in late 2009. It still has its original dark-wood bar, there's still a flair for red décor -- including the classy floor-to-ceiling velour stage curtain that will be closed while bands load their gear in and out -- and the lighting is kept fairly dark.

It's by design, says Last Exit's production manager and sound guy Brian Stubblefield.

"We just wanted to do a whole lounge thing here. [Brandon and I] both like really dark bars," Stubblefield says. "I come from back east, and that's how some places are like back east. Out here, it's like every show is lit so bright. We had to strip it down, bring the lights down and give it a real lounge-y, intimate feel."

Other than the scarlet paint covering the walls and the blood red lighting that pierces the darkness and casts pools of crimson light, which sorta evokes the torrid and murky aura not unlike the old Monroe's basement venue, the décor is pretty spartan with less than a dozen tables available for patrons.

Such a minimalist feel was also part of the plan, says Stubblefield.

"It feels like there's nothing else distracting them except the band," he says. "There's no other crap, there's no pictures on the wall, there's nothing but a giant red curtain that opens up to a show. That's what people are here for and that's the reason behind knocking out the light and focusing on what's important."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.