Club Red in Mesa Has Closed. Here's What We Know.

Benjamin Leatherman
Club Red's current location in Mesa, which opened in 2014.
Local music venue Club Red, a prominent part of metro Phoenix’s metal and hip-hop scenes, has closed its doors after more than 15 years in business, according to a longtime employee.

Valley metal promoter Kimberly LaRowe of 13th Floor Entertainment, a booker at the venue, posted a message to her Facebook account on Sunday about the closure, calling it “a done deal.”

“I have had a flood of messages, texts, [and] emails about Club Red,” she wrote. “It has closed. I personally wanted to thank everyone that I have had the pleasure of working with there. I booked some great national and local events in that club and 2021 would have marked my 5 years working there.”

The specific causes behind Club Red’s closure weren’t mentioned in the post, though LaRowe alluded to music venues across the country closing down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LaRowe declined to comment further, deferring to Club Red owners Paul Benson and Anthony Garcia. Phoenix New Times was unable to reach either owner regarding the matter.

Club Red is the first prominent local music venue to close since the pandemic brought the local music scene to a standstill in March 2020. The venue was a hub of live music during its run and a go-to spot for metal, hip-hop, and electronic dance music shows.

click to enlarge A rollicking Periphery show from January 2015 at Club Red. - JIM LOUVAU
A rollicking Periphery show from January 2015 at Club Red.
Jim Louvau
Club Red was opened in 2005 by local businessman Kim Commons at a Tempe strip mall at University Drive and Price Road. It featured dual stages, an adjacent sports bar called The Red Owl, and hosted a large variety of artists and bands, ranging from rock, punk, and metal show to long-running local hip-hop night The Blunt Club.

In 2014, Commons moved Club Red two miles east to its current location at University Drive and Alma School Road in Mesa, where it took over an 8,100-square-foot property featuring two different theaters. Picking up where it left off, save for a few opening weekend issues, the new Club Red offered the same mix of shows.

The venue continued to flourish after Commons died of a stroke in June 2015. In recent years, it’s hosted numerous raves and dance parties, including annual events like the Bubble Bobble foam party.

It was a well-known haven for heshers and metal bands, though, and offered shows by such famous names as Ensiferum, Alestorm, Tyr, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Decrepit Birth, and local thrash-metal legends Flotsam and Jetsam.

Numerous multi-band metal festivals and album release shows took place at the venue, such as the annual Arizona Deathfest and the Headbang for the Highway Battle For Summer Slaughter competition.

Stephen Chilton of Psyko Steve Presents, who promoted numerous shows at Club Red, was saddened by the news of its closing.

“It's really unfortunate to see it go,” Chilton said. “It really did fill a niche for a lot of the metal, punk rock, and hip-hop [scenes] over the years.”

click to enlarge An EDM fan at one of the Bubble Bobble foam parties at Club Red. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
An EDM fan at one of the Bubble Bobble foam parties at Club Red.
Benjamin Leatherman
Chilton, who is also the vice president of the National Independent Venue Association, said he’s surprised that more venues both in Arizona and elsewhere haven’t closed due to the concert industry grinding to a halt for almost a year because of the pandemic.

“It shouldn't be too shocking to anyone that music venues haven't survived COVID. It's horrible we're losing venues across the country,” Chilton said. “It's amazing any venue has survived a year with no shows. It's kind of remarkable we haven't lost more venues in Phoenix.”

Local musicians and Club Red patrons were equally upset by the loss of the venue. Legendary local metal band Pelvic Meatloaf paid tribute to Club Red in a message to its Facebook page on Sunday, noting “another one bites the dust, thanks to that stupid Rona virus.”

“Club Red Mesa has been our home base for the last several years, and it has now closed,” the band wrote. “Thanks to the owners and staff for always being cool. We will miss performing of [sic] your stages.”

According to Club Red’s Facebook page, a handful of upcoming concerts were scheduled to take place at the venue, including an April 17 performance by Azizi Gibson and an August 10 gig by jazz fusion guitarist Greg Howe.

LaRowe stated in her Facebook post that all of 13th Floor Entertainment's shows at Club Red will be moved to new locations.

“We will all be OK,” she wrote. “I know to many this is a shock as it was to me, but our music scene will be fine.”