One of Boston’s most beloved music venues is closing for good. Great Scott — which has been open on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, in one capacity or another, since 1976 — is closing its doors after 44 years. The landlords reportedly declined to renew the lease.
Over the years, Great Scott has worn many different musical hats. It began life in the mid-1970s as a bar that featured blues and folk musicians before transitioning into more of a college dive. It has hosted innumerable DJ sets and dance nights (remember the Pill?) and standup comedy nights (the Gas was one of the city’s most reliably funny shows), and it has become a lynchpin of the city’s punk and indie rock scenes. It has functioned as a kind of home base for countless local bands — Passion Pit, Speedy Ortiz, Pile — and as a friendly port of call for countless touring bands, like indie darlings Grimes and MGMT.
“There is a sign that still hangs in the venue from the establishment that Great Scott replaced, the name of which was Brandy’s,” wrote general manager Tim Philbin in a post on the venue’s Facebook page announcing the permanent closure. “That sign read, ‘Where Incredible Friendships Begin.’ I’m glad we never took it down because it describes Great Scott better than I ever could.”
To understand Great Scott’s significance in the Boston — and national — music scene: Music website Consequence of Sound called it the eighth-best music venue in America in 2016. Better than Madison Square Garden, and better than Ryman Auditorium. “For all of Boston’s cliched drunken swagger and collegiate crowds, no place makes the most of alcohol and youth quite like Great Scott,” noted the website. “The petite, 240-capacity venue carries all the traits of an ace dive bar without the unbearable setbacks.”
On any given night, one could stand in Great Scott’s cramped confines, drink a PBR pounder, and wonder which of the several bands on the bill were going to hit it big. The bathrooms were disgusting, and the bar was cash only. It was one of the city’s last true dives, and it was perhaps its most important and influential music hub. More crucially, it was one of the city’s last havens for weirdos. It will be missed dearly.