Rex Theater on South Side is Closing for Good

The Carson Street concert venue will not return after the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Rex Theater, the formerly thriving South Side concert venue that had been an anchor of the neighborhood’s nightlife for more than a decade, announced Tuesday that it will not reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement posted to Facebook, venue management said the ongoing financial challenges created by the pandemic were too great to overcome.

“Due to the ongoing hardship and uncertain future caused by the COVID pandemic, The Rex Theater will be closing our doors after over a decade of live music and events,” the statement read. “We want to thank everyone who’s come to a show, everyone’s who’s played a show, everyone who has worked in ways big and small and helped us make this crazy dream a reality.”

Theater management had been heavily involved in promoting the “#SaveOurStages” campaign, a national push for independent venue relief. The venue’s wall of posters was replaced earlier this summer with placards urging supporters to contact elected representatives to lobby for relief.

Elsewhere on the Rex’s exterior, the venue’s final calendar of events — showing a lineup of March and April shows, many of which were canceled by the initial outbreak — remained in place. The theater’s marquee, however, had been changed to read: “Thanks for 11 Great Years / Stay Safe & Love Each Other.”

The century-old building saw life as a vaudeville theater and movie house before a slow transition to a performance space in the 2000s. The final removal of permanent seating made it an everyday venue 11 years ago.

While much of the theater’s calendar was filled with touring music and comedy acts, it remained a home for local performers as well. At the Rex, local projects could become institutions; the annual, gothic-themed performance art revue, “Morose & Macabre’s Atrocity Exhibition,” was a regular sellout at the Rex for ten years. More recently, all-star lineups of local musicians made charity-focused jam and tribute nights can’t-miss events.

Later in the Facebook post, management headed off any speculation of a last-ditch effort to revive the venue. “While we greatly appreciate all of your support, and we understand that many of you would like to find some way to save The Rex, please trust that we have considered every option and have done everything possible to keep our dream alive for as long as we could.”

With the closure of the Rex following the 2018 conversion of former cross-street rival Diesel into the nightclub Foxtail, the South Side is left without a large, full-time concert venue for the first time in decades.

Categories: The 412