Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Way Out Club Is Preparing to Close After 27 Years

Posted By on Wed, Jun 16, 2021 at 10:43 AM

Goodbye, Way Out Club. - RFT FILE PHOTO
  • RFT FILE PHOTO
  • Goodbye, Way Out Club.

One of St. Louis’ longest-running music venues is shutting down. The Way Out Club (2525 South Jefferson Avenue) is closing for good, and the space is currently for sale.

Though the club was known for hosting a wide variety of bands since it opened September 24, 1994, it also functioned as a neighborhood bar and a multi-purpose entertainment space.



click to enlarge Sherri Lucas and Bob Putnam - RFT FILE PHOTO
  • RFT FILE PHOTO
  • Sherri Lucas and Bob Putnam
The Way Out Club has been a community recreation spot for generations of weird St. Louis youths who gathered there to see bands, attend poetry readings, watch cult films, participate in pie-eating contests, witness freak shows, enjoy burlesque shows, sing karaoke and drink a few (or more) cocktails.

Owned and operated by Bob "Bobbo" Putnam and Sherri “Danger” Lucas, The Way Out Club opened originally at 3159 Cherokee Street (current spot of the STL Style House) before moving to 2525 South Jefferson Avenue.

The couple always incorporated the things that they loved into the club, which is why the bric-a-brac interior was decorated with posters of films, clown heads, vintage furniture and art. When Lucas got into Zumba (eventually becoming a fitness teacher) she brought that love to the club and Lucas and Putnam opened their doors for workout classes. And their cat, Angus, was a long-time resident of the Way Out Club, expertly receiving pets from drunks and often seen warming his ears by the heat of a bulb in a retro lamp.

click to enlarge DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY

Though the club often hosted major touring acts (including surprise shows from famous musicians like J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.), it was Putnam and Lucas’ support of local bands that made the club stand out as an essential part of the St. Louis music scene.

click to enlarge J. Mascis (right) performing blistering a set of Stooges covers at the Way Out Club in 2017. - JAIME LEES
  • JAIME LEES
  • J. Mascis (right) performing blistering a set of Stooges covers at the Way Out Club in 2017.

The Way Out Club’s consistent support of the St. Louis music scene over the past few decades cannot be overstated. Putnam and Lucas would not only book fledgling local bands constantly, they’d also show them support and encouragement. (And they’d give them a free beer or two, too.)

Though the club was clearly a labor of love (nobody was getting rich off of it, that’s for sure), its busy days were behind it. That, combined with the hit of the pandemic and Putnam's recent Alzheimer's diagnosis have made the family feel like it's time to say goodbye to the Way Out Club so Putnam can enjoy his retirement years.

click to enlarge The bar side of the venue. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • The bar side of the venue.

But if you’re looking to pop in to say goodbye to your former home-away-from-home, you’re in luck. The club has not yet set a definite date for the closure, and it is hosting a farewell string of shows starting July 1 with bands, poetry and movies. If it's your birthday during that week, maybe they'll even make you their famous Birthday Drink. (Pro tip: Share it with a friend. It's huge, it's blue-green, it tastes like Pixy Stix and it gives you an instant hangover.)

Keep an eye on the Way Out Club Facebook page for information, and we'll post details as we have them.

UPDATE 2:45PM -

Bob Putnam called us this morning to give us a few more details about the closure and the farewell event. The schedule is still being finalized, but Putnam says he's working on finishing up the lineup.

"I want to go out like I did when I was working there," Putnam said. "I've known all of these people for 25 or 30 years." 

His main goal is to have one big, fun party as a proper goodbye to the legendary St. Louis venue. 

Putnam has booked sound engineer Bret Schram for the final shows and he plans to have two or three bands playing per night from Thursday, July 1 through Saturday, July 10.

click to enlarge A great wall to stare at while waiting for a drink. - DOYLE MURPHY
  • DOYLE MURPHY
  • A great wall to stare at while waiting for a drink.

click to enlarge Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr. plays a soft, quiet set at the Way Out Club in St. Louis. - JAIME LEES
  • JAIME LEES
  • Lou Barlow of Dinosaur Jr. plays a soft, quiet set at the Way Out Club in St. Louis.

click to enlarge Negative Approach practically sets the Way Out Club on fire in St. Louis. - JAIME LEES
  • JAIME LEES
  • Negative Approach practically sets the Way Out Club on fire in St. Louis.

click to enlarge St. Louis band Trauma Harness sets up for a big night of music at the Way Out Club in St. Louis. - JAIME LEES
  • JAIME LEES
  • St. Louis band Trauma Harness sets up for a big night of music at the Way Out Club in St. Louis.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
  • Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get the latest on the news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation