When the club boom shook San Jose in the early 2000s, new venues opened downtown, but live music fell by the wayside, with DJs the focus at the new clubs. David Nevin, 32, who opened the music repair and rock & roll venue The Rock Shop five years ago, wants to help bring live music back with a new SoFA District venue in a space that has a long history hosting live music.
Come Nov. 27, the musical entrepreneur will debut his latest project, a new rock club called Back Bar. The 130-person venue will occupy the back portion of what used to be the Cactus Club, which left a void in the local rock scene when it shuttered its doors more than a decade ago. The new club will be a separate venture from the Rock Shop, which will continue to host all-ages shows periodically. The Back Bar will hold 21+ shows.
“We’re really excited to start bringing back live music to San Jose,” says Back Bar manager Nick Schuneman. “We’re doing everything from rock, punk, metal, new wave, ’80s nights, you name it.”
The South Market Street club will open its doors Sunday through Friday every week and retain a resident DJ, though the focus will always be on live entertainment, says Schuneman, who plays bass for the Forgotten. He’s thinking of pulling together a comedy night, too.
“There’s something about live music that really pumps people up—it seems to inspire people having fun,” he says. “That’s what this is about.”
Downtown business leaders and the city have been especially supportive of encouraging live entertainment in downtown in recent years, Schuneman says, and the SoFA District was particularly appealing with its cluster of other venues and arts spaces.
“That’s a big reason why we’re excited to move into this area,” Schuneman says. “You’re seeing a lot more incentive to create live entertainment.”
Eventually, Nevin and Schuneman would like to see multiple live shows at various venues on any given night in San Jose. It’s already getting there, with consistent shows at the Blank Club, Caravan, Johnny V’s and now Café Stritch and Blackbird Tavern.
“We’re excited to add something to the mix,” Nevin says. “The more, the merrier. The overall goal is to kind of reflect the community that we know—the music culture that’s been here—and give them another outlet to go hang out and hear some awesome music. In a city this size, there should be somewhere to go every night.”
The Thanksgiving-eve grand opening art and music show will double as a homecoming for the self-described “comedic goon-core shit punk degenerates” Trashkannon. Like most of the shows planned for Back Bar, it’s free to get in.