Boot & Saddle, South Philly’s beloved concert venue, shuts down due to COVID-19

Boot & Saddle, one of Philadelphia’s most treasured, independent, live-music venues, has shut down for good as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, adding to a growing list of businesses in Philly to suffer similar fates.

The owners of Boot & Saddle, located at 1131 S. Broad St. in South Philly, announced the news Tuesday morning on Twitter. They explained the decision was made in order to ensure that sister venue Union Transfer has the best possible chance of staying afloat.

Hey Everyone. Hope everyone had a joyous weekend like we did! With that said, we have some sad news to share. After seven years and 1,500+ shows, we are now forced to close Boot & Saddle. Please see our full statement in the attached graphic. — xo B&S pic.twitter.com/jvH1dylTrT

— Boot & Saddle (@BootAndSaddle) November 10, 2020

“With Covid-19 cases back on the rise in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and around the country, the thought of having 200 people standing shoulder-to-shoulder in our small indoor bar early next year has faded,” the owners said. “After eight months without a show, and without a clear reopening date in sight, we no longer have the luxury of paying the bills and expenses for two closed venues. And so, we have made the difficult decision to close Boot & Saddle for good.”

Boot & Saddle was revived in 2013 after nearly sitting vacant for nearly two decades. It hosted more than 1,500 shows over a seven-year span.

“It has been a fun and enjoyable experience from start to finish: transforming an old country & western bar, which was shuttered for eighteen years, into a bustling, live music venue with its iconic neon sign lighting up Broad Street,” the statement continued. “Boot & Saddle was where the likes of Lizzo and Sam Smith made their Philadelphia debuts. It is also where legendary icons like Thurston Moore and Psychic TV performed for intimate crowds.”

The venue also had been a regular place for shows by local bands including The War on Drugs, Circa Survive and The Menzingers.

The owners emphasized that independent venues are in “grave danger” as a result of the pandemic, which has put them at a greater disadvantage than many other businesses that have faced hardships over the past eight months.

“Live Music Venues were the first businesses to close and they will be the last to re-open. As other restaurants, bars and stadiums begin to re-open, our doors remain shut,” the owners said. “We cannot sell you a contactless takeout or curbside delivery concert. Without some form of assistance, our local music scene right here in Philly, along with countless others across the country, may collapse.”

Boot & Saddle will maintain its social media channels to provide news and information about actions that can be taken to support music venues.

An “R.I.P Boot & Saddle Benefit T-Shirt” will soon be printed to help support health care coverage for the venue’s full-time staff.

Fans of Boot & Saddle shared memories and lamented the venue’s closure.

My top 5 shows at Boot and Saddle:

5) Operators
4) Joey Cape
3) Teenage Bottlerocket
2) Ex Hex
1) Agnostic Front

— Randy LoBasso (@RandyLoBasso) November 10, 2020

The best thing about Boot & Saddle was rolling in on a random night and grabbing a ticket to whatever show was happening. It was easily the best small venue in the city.

— michael (sp?) (@gospelofjawn) November 10, 2020

i first saw the gloriously talented julien baker at boot and saddle nearly five years ago. since then, probably a dozen other great acts. i met a number of philly twitter friends at shows there. what a loss https://t.co/XPDhy72qwT

— Dan, from the web (@sharpalright) November 10, 2020

Boot and Saddle closing is literally heartbreaking.

— Jenna✨ (@jennaleed) November 10, 2020

Really bummed about the Boot and Saddle. Loved seeing shows there, loved playing there. Loved swinging by for a beer. In no way am I local to South Philly but it felt really close and local…

— Country Lazer Radio (@CountryLazer) November 10, 2020

Boot & Saddle in Philly is closing. Terrible news. This will continue without significant relief for venues.

— teepee (@Pencil_tucky) November 10, 2020

“We sincerely appreciate all the support over the years. From everyone who saw a show, had a drink, or played on our stage,” the owners said. “We are proud of having provided a stage on which local Philadelphia artists can develop and grow alongside national and international touring acts.”

Boot & Saddle’s neon lights will remain on at the Broad Street location for the remainder of the week, for anyone who wishes to stop by and take a picture. 

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