.Blank Club Owner Shutting Venue, Opening New, Unnamed Rock Club In SoFA District

Last week, as soon as I saw Corey O’Brien standing on the southeast corner of First and San Salvador—right outside the former F/X The Club—I knew what was happening. Through the open doors workers could be seen cleaning up some old debris and hosing things off. It was clear. After nearly 12 years of operating The Blank Club with his partners, O’Brien was about to begin a brand new live-music adventure with some new investors inside the old F/X building, which had been the Pussycat Theatre before, and The Usual, the Spy and Angels in the years following F/X’s closure.
It is with a tinge of sadness, that I report The Blank Club will close for good on Jan. 31, 2015. The name will be retired and O’Brien’s new, yet-to-be-named club will open by the beginning of March. It was not a sudden decision. While the Blank has been the only venue of its kind in San Jose for years, everyone knows it simply isn’t big enough. While it’s miraculously managed to host many legendary shows over the years, there was no real backstage, no real place to load-in and the stage itself was way too small for national touring bands. Looking back over the last 12 years, I was very lucky to see Lemmy Kilmister, the Damned, GBH and the Buzzcocks on that stage.
After awhile though, with production costs going through the roof, and with more and more national touring bands expressing grief over the less-than-ample conditions, O’Brien says he finally came to a decision. The era of the Blank Club was not going to last much longer. It must eventually come to an end and he needed to move forward on his own to find a more suitable venue. The old F/X building has been empty for seven years, and while it will be expensive, O’Brien says it will be worth it.
I had to get the skinny in person, so I showed up at The Blank Club on the afternoon of Dec. 4, during non-operating hours, to ask O’Brien what was going on. He said the place simply wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
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“We don’t have what we need here,” O’Brien told me. “The stage is too small, there’s nowhere to stage gear, the green room is back behind the bar, upstairs. If we want to do major touring bands, we needed a bigger room. San Jose needs a real, mid-sized club. We don’t have one here.”
Opening a new live music venue in the SoFA District—in the same building where alternative music fans saw countless bands 24 years ago—will add a much-needed component to the street. The area is already making a serious comeback and opening the F/X building again is going to work wonders for music-based nightlife.
The former F/X is the only building still empty at the intersection of South First and East San Salvador—an area once referred to by San Jose nightlife junkies as “The Four Corners.” Original F/X owner Fil Maresca said a new rock club in that space will be transformative: “To see that marquee lit up again is going to make a serious difference in the neighborhood.”
When 400 South First Street was called F/X, from 1989-1995, it regularly jammed that building with numerous national touring acts. No Doubt, Helmet, the Melvins, Jesus Lizard and countless other bands gigged there, back when they were nobodies. This unfolded in-between huge dance nights, themed events and all sorts of performance-based revelry. It’s an amazing space for all sorts of events in addition to live bands, which is why O’Brien is looking forward to opening its doors in 2015. Especially since he was one of the original regulars who drank at F/X when it first opened 25 years ago. He even DJed there.
But even though he now has over a decade of memories at 44 S. Almaden Ave., O’Brien reiterated that he is not relocating the Blank Club to another venue. The new club will be just that: a new club.
“The Blank Club is here, at this location,” declared O’Brien, as we continued to stand there during non-operating hours. “To do something else, it isn’t the Blank Club. The Blank Club’s here. It’s going to be different over there, so it needs a different name.”

Gary Singh
Gary Singhhttps://www.garysingh.info/
Gary Singh’s byline has appeared over 1500 times, including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press) and was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. An anthology of his Metro columns, Silicon Alleys, was published in 2020.


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