Yes, your eyes don't deceive you. That isn't a joke headline you just read. The Alabama Music Box, located at 12 S. Conception St. in Mobile has closed their doors...for now at least.
The venue, typically home to acts that would make your mother blush, scold you, or both, turned off the lights sometime in the wee hours of of Jan. 1, 2024. Before that date, they hosted one last show, an EP release show featuring No Complications, Oversight, and Ballastella on Dec. 30 and it was a venue sendoff for the ages!
First of all, there was a line to get in and pay for a ticket. I've seen many an act at the venue, but it's not often there's a line to get in and see anybody. While the boon in business was likely due to the news that the venue was shutting their doors soon, I honestly think that the crowd would've been about the same anyways, given that the entire lineup features artists well known to the local Mobile music scene.
Kicking off the night was Ballastella. They performed in front of a rowdy crowd that only grew as the night went on. I realized almost too late that I had actually seen them earlier that year opening for The Mummy Cats out of Birmingham.
They're self described as shoegaze and alt-pop, so imagine my surprise when they busted out a cover of Rage Against the Machine's Bulls On Parade as the last song of their set. Ballastella, you have a new fan that will certainly remember you the next time you're on stage!
Next up was Oversight, who hails from both Mobile and New Orleans. If you threw a rock into the crowd, it would be hard not to hit somebody who didn't know them or hadn't seen them live before.
The way frontman Sam Betancourt serenaded the crowd throughout the night was something akin to putting on your favorite sweater or drinking your favorite warm beverage. It was my first time hearing any of their music live, but somehow, it felt as if I had been listening to it all my life.
Perhaps I felt this way because the chemistry between all the members was off the charts. Logan McDaniel on guitar and Trevor James on bass often moved so in sync while performing I couldn't believe they weren't twins. Hickman Plaisance, on drums and Sam Reynolds on guitar were just as in sync.
The highlight of their set for me was at the very end where nearly everybody in the building sat down on the ground and held up their phone lights while Betancourt sung on the ground with them. You know a band is good when people brave the venue floor for them!
Finally, the headliners, No Complications, of Mobile, took the stage. By this time, it was close to or after midnight, so the crowd had thinned a bit, but most still stuck around to watch the end of an era.
The group played their new EP, Starlorn, from top to bottom and it's a banger y'all. Each tune was better than the last and by the end, I definitely was ready to hear a full album from the group.
Of course, there wasn't a single person around that was happy to see the venue close, but the final show including three Mobile-based bands, was a highly appropriate send-off.
Alabama Music Box was the first venue I went to a show at after moving to Mobile, as well as the first place I started doing concert photography. I owe a lot to this little venue that had a show nearly every night and the nights that it didn't, still had music in some form, whether it was a vinyl night or karaoke night...and who can forget the free pizza or hotdogs?
Long Live Alabama Music Box! I can't wait until there's a new place bearing your name to sing, dance, and mosh inside of!