Less to be thankful for: Exit/In to close on Thanksgiving Day

After 50 years of music, historic Nashville concert venue Exit/In will close its doors on Nov. 24.


Makayla Donald

A promotional board outside of Exit/In with the remaining shows for the month listed, as photographed on Nov. 14, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Makayla Donald)

Oghosa Omobude, Life Copy Editor

Opened in 1971, the popular Nashville concert venue Exit/In is set to close on Thanksgiving Day. The venue, owned by Chris and Telisha Cobb, hosts a variety of artists from Vanderbilt student band Edgehill to Middle Kids.

Known on the “Rock Block” (Elliston Place) as a home to performers of various genres, the venue has been a staple of the Nashville community for half a decade. For many, Exit/In is both a place to enjoy live music as well as appreciate performers and performances of the past. 

“I first went to an Exit/In show in 2021, and to see a place with such rich history close makes me incredibly upset. From the second I stepped in, seeing Elliott Smith’s name on the wall of past performers made me feel connected to him in a way I had never experienced when just listening to his music. I’ll never get to see him perform, so feeling his spirit in such a fun place fills me with nothing but love,” junior Hailey Pfeiffer said in an email to The Hustler. “To see the city I live in treating Exit/In so poorly is disheartening, to say the least. Destroying a piece of music history hurts my heart, and I hope the Nashville music industry learns from this horrible mistake.”

In 2021, the Exit/In property came under the management of AJ Capital Partners, worrying both the Exit/In owners and concertgoers due to AJ Capital Partner’s reputation as a hotel developer. The company attempted to allay these concerns, assuring the community that Exit/In would remain as a concert venue. However, the ambiguous details of the company’s future intentions prompted the Exit/In owners to set up a GoFundMe in April, imploring the community to donate toward an attempt to buy back the property through a bid. 

Although the GoFundMe raised over $200,000, the negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful, and AJ Capital remained in ownership of the property. Exit/In owners confirmed via a Nov. 14 update on their GoFundMe page and Instagram page that Exit/In will be closing due to its lease not being renewed after December.

“We love this city wholeheartedly but are not ok with many current trends here. We know Nashville needs Exit/In and independent venues like it to continue supporting our community of artists, musicians, and the entire ecosystem they center,” the owners’ statement reads. 

Mural on the wall of Exit/In, as photographed on November 8, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Makayla Donald).
Mural on the wall of Exit/In, as photographed on November 8, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Makayla Donald) (Makayla Donald)

In the statement, the Exit/In owners explained that there is a historic overlay on the Exit/In building, which could protect the building itself from being destroyed. The impact of this overlay is under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Historic Commission. Hurry Back—a restaurant attached to the venue—will continue to serve through December, although this building is not protected by a historic overlay. Despite the community’s worries about their intentions, AJ Capital Partners’ lawyers stated that they intend to continue operating the property as a music venue but have not released further details. The Cobbs also stated that all the proceeds from the Exit/In GoFundMe will be donated to the Music Venue Alliance and the National Independent Venue Association. 

Mercy Lounge, another concert venue, closed earlier this year due to its lease ending. Students expressed concerns that Exit/In closing reflects a larger paradigm of Nashville markets suffocating small, independent businesses and venues central to the city’s culture and landscape.

“This is a punch in the gut to the city. It breaks my heart to see these independent venues close down,”  junior Sofia Prieto said. “Live music means so much more when you have more personal and intimate experience with the artist and the other concert-goers, and Exit/In was one of the few places you could feel that to the fullest extent.”

Sophomore Jonathan Wilson and drummer of Edgehill expressed similar views.

“Honestly, what’s so sad about it is that I wasn’t that surprised. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen too many local venues have to close down in recent years (especially after the initial COVID outbreak) but it’s really sad regardless. I’m just so grateful I got the chance to perform at such a historic place while it was still open and the idea that nobody will ever really perform there…is really heartbreaking,” Wilson said in a message to The Hustler. 

Senior Lauren McKee expressed how this paradigm contributes to Nashville losing its individuality. 

“I feel like with any small venue in Nashville closing, you lose one of the more unique aspects of Nashville,” McKee said. 

For Exit/In’s final concert, garage punk band Diarrhea Planet will grace the black-curtained stage on Nov. 23. For the lucky concert-goers who have snagged tickets to the sold-out show, the knowledge of being the last audience in the venue will no doubt highlight their experience in sentiment.