For most of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the strip was dominated by used furniture stores and junk shops with names like Williams Do-Rite Swap Shop, Fairyland Antiques, Dutch Meyer’s Trading Post, Red River Rats, Hurt’s Hunting Grounds and J.B. Branton. Most of those buildings are nightclubs today. Snooper’s Paradise, the inspiration of Doug Sahm’s Austin anthem “Groover’s Paradise,” at 705 Red River was later the location of country-western clubs, gay bars, hip hop clubs and rock bars. As the Cave Club, the location introduced industrial music to Texas in the ’80s. It’s been home to Elysium since 2001.
Although Red River began to be known as Austin’s live music district in the ‘90s, with Emo’s and Stubb’s leading the way for the Mohawk, Beerland, Club DeVille, Room 710 and others, this strip was where the earliest Austin hippies went before the Vulcan and the Armadillo opened. Red River gave birth to psychedelic rock in 1966, when the 13thFloor Elevators debuted their first single “You’re Gonna Miss Me” at the New Orleans Club. Janis Joplin sang just steps away at the 11th Door that same year. Those nascent Austin clubs were where Symphony Square is today.