A lot has changed since the Masquerade opened on a desolate corner of the Old Fourth Ward in 1989. “It was a pretty bleak area,” says club promoter Greg Green. “We were outliers.” More than 25 years later, the description still fits; only now the venue is a rundown reminder of the neighborhood’s gritty past, surrounded by BeltLine-adjacent condos and shiny Ponce City Market. Last summer the Masquerade debuted a new festival, Wrecking Ball ATL, to celebrate its warhorse status, but already there was speculation on how much longer the venue would last.
Then in April came an announcement that the Masquerade’s building, formerly Excelsior Mill, would be retrofitted as Mill Marketplace, home to decidedly more upscale tenants like a restaurant and shops. Part of a $60-million-plus project called North+Line, it will be flanked by a 228-unit luxury apartment building and more retail. Goodbye blaring guitar licks, hello latte-sipping BeltLine living.
How do you celebrate the beginning of the end of the Masquerade? An alternative music festival in the dog days of summer is a good way to start. The venue’s operators have settled on a new location (see below), but meanwhile most of the second annual Wrecking Ball will take place across the street at Historic Fourth Ward Park. The lineup features more than 60 artists, including hometown indie staple Deerhunter, alt rock icon Dinosaur Jr., and reunited cult act Drive Like Jehu. As the Masquerade’s final Fourth Ward encore, it’ll be one to remember.
New digs, same song
Once Wrecking Ball ATL wraps up, the Masquerade will relocate across town to a low-lying brick former warehouse near the Goat Farm on the city’s west side. Purists should be relieved to learn that the venue will still be home to three stages named Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
This article originally appeared in our August 2016 issue.