Springfield, Virginia, music venue Empire — formerly Jaxx — is closing on May 5, according to a Facebook post from co-owner Jason Malhoyt.
“Today, I must tell you with a heavy heart that Empire will be closing it’s [sic] doors May 5th. I have been a promoter in DC/MD/VA for close to 10 years and have had the privilege of owning a successful all ages music venue that has allowed me to work with amazing artists, meet genuine people from all over the world and provide a place where anyone with a passion for underground music could attend and be welcomed with open arms,” Malhoyt wrote in a status update.
Malhoyt and partner Jeff Cohen of promotions group Outerloop took over Jaxx in early 2012 and changed its name to Empire. Under previous owner Jay Nedry, the strip-mall venue was known as one of the region’s most reliable houses for metal. When Malhoyt and Cohen took the reins, they brought in more metalcore, a cousin of metal that traditionalists would hesitate to call “real” metal. The changeover stoked anxiety in the metal scene at the time, as Bandwidth contributor Catherine Lewis reported for TBD.com in 2011.
“The main bummer about Jaxx switching management is that the NoVa heavy metal bands and fans could be losing a major venue for their music scene,” musician and promoter Simon Cohen told Lewis.
Metal fans expressed a similar anxiety on message boards. “I’ll do everything in my power to keep that place alive,” wrote a fan on ultimatemetal.com. “I REFUSE to believe the best place to catch metal in NoVA is f*****g JAMMIN’ JAVA.”
But over the last few years, the new owners managed to retain Jaxx’s legacy as a safe space for “real” metal while also booking metalcore, hip-hop, electronic music and rock.
Reached via email, Malhoyt said he’s selling Empire “to be able to invest my time in other things I have going on in the music business.”
Starting May 5, all shows at Empire will be moved to Canal Club in Richmond, according to Malhoyt’s Facebook post, and tickets will be honored there. But it already looks like some bands are scrambling to find closer alternate venues: Northern Virginia’s King Giant had an album-release show booked at Empire for May 30, and the metal band posted on Facebook about their struggle to relocate the gig.
“Yes, we know about Empire closing. We’ve been trying to rebook the show for the past 48 hours, but it’s not looking good. We are as bummed as you,” King Giant posted. “We will update you all via our FB page once we secure a new date.”
If ticketholders can’t make it down to shows moved to Richmond, refunds will be available via Ticketfly, according to Malhoyt’s Facebook post.