From existing as the dojo where Elvis Presley practiced karate to the venue where Elvis Costello and The Imposters filmed a live performance when The Hi-Tone called the address home, 1911 Poplar Ave has stood as a sanctuary for both acclaimed artists and local musicians. After The Hi-Tone changed locations, however, the magic of that room fell away as the rebranded Sports Junction struggled to find footing.
But when Circa Survive took the stage Saturday evening at Growlers, the venue's latest rebranding, the allure of the space was tangible — it felt just as it did the last time I caught a show there years ago. Growlers was the perfect stop for Circa Survive, too, who are spending the off-days of a larger tour with AFI and Citizen playing club dates. The last time they played Memphis was a near sold out show at The New Daisy in 2014. To see them on a small stage, not long after they announced their sixth studio album
, was one of those rare experiences that don't often arise.
"Somebody told me this was Elvis' old karate studio," Anthony Green said as the band took the stage. "Me and my buddy went to Graceland today. We found a trap door and rummaged through all of Elvis' shit."
Local band Jadewick
opened the show. It's hard imagining another Memphis band that would have fit the bill better than they did. Having only seen them play on floors or in living rooms, they took to the stage well. The band reveled in the frills of a room more suited to handle their dynamic and the nuances that get lost against the walls at a house show.
If you haven't stepped into Growlers yet — do so. At the beginning of this month, the venue hosted Spiral Stairs
, or singer and guitarist Scott Kannberg of Pavement. The magnetism of 1911 Poplar Avenue is just as present as it's ever been. Hopefully Growler's coming shows continue to do it justice.