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Avondale Spotlight: Saturn

Avondale Saturn
Image via Saturn Birmingham

Plenty of us still mourn the death of Bottletree. There are online eulogies, and Lee Shook argues the venue was truly transformative. A “revolution,” in fact. There’s hope on the horizon, though. Saturn — former Bottletree promoter Brian Teasley’s new venue — is no Bottletree 2.0, but it’s a new model for a new Avondale.

Neither Saturn nor Satellite — its adjoining coffee shop/bar — will offer a tofu-based brunch, for instance. But Teasley will be resurrecting the Bottletree ethos of all-hours gathering place and well-chosen live acts. In fact, the decision not to serve food sets Saturn apart in a classic, know-your-neighborhood kind of way.

After all, Saturn is surrounded by Hotbox, Saw’s, Post Office Pies, Melt, and more. If it was going to get into the food business, it needed a strong point of view and some serious culinary chops. Instead, it focused on the sound and the drinks, allowing folks to bring in food from other 41st Street favorites.

Avondale Saturn
Image via Saturn Birmingham

That’s a strong part of the drinking culture at neighbors like Avondale Brewery, and a tradition we’re happy to see continue. But the official perspective is perhaps the best one: “In order to encourage the growth of our community and foot traffic along our street, we will allow customers to bring food into our shop.”

Local foot traffic will find a nice continuity in the Saturn/Satellite exterior, but also signs of artistic disruption. Satellite’s two-story brick with wide windows is quintessential Avondale, but Saturn’s low, sleek gray facade and single row of porthole windows is purposefully outside the 41st Street orbit. And Saturn’s dual role showcasing live music and producing ambient sound is decidedly outside the normal venue model. It’s not just a music gallery but an artistic process, and we’re excited to see how that works.

It shouldn’t surprise us, though. The new Avondale is a neighborhood of quirky startups. It thrives on combinations that shouldn’t work, but seem to. There’s the coffee shop plus worship space at the Abbey, the purposefully small event space of the Nest, and the sushi burritos of Wasabi Juan’s. Saturn, like Avondale, embraces the unlikely pairings of an artist’s heart.

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