The Outhouse was a hardcore punk music venue located east of Lawrence, Kansas on 15th Street. Original shows listed the venue as Past the Pavement Hall, being as the county pavement ended about 3/4 of a mile from the building.
It hosted many acts from the time it was initially leased for fraternity parties and biker bashes in 1985 until it was discovered by young rock bands desperate for a place to perform. The first hardcore/alternative rock shows to play at The Outhouse were in the late summer/fall of 1985. Its doors were permanently closed in 1998. The growing mainstream popularity of pop punk music in the early 1990s was already leading to the decline of the Outhouse, but what ultimately led to its closing was the Great Flood of 1993. The building once known as the Outhouse is now a BYOB strip club.
The Outhouse was unique because it was a gutted cinder-block storage garage in the middle of a corn field. The walls (if any) had been torn out leaving only cinder-block walls. Original shows in 1985 featured no stage until a stage was built by volunteers from the University of Kansas student radio station, KJHK, and various local bands. KJHK and others had made an arrangement with the Flaming Lips to play there and felt a stage was needed to attract other non-local acts. During the construction of the stage, it was suggested that the name be changed from Past the Pavement Hall. One KJHK staffer remarked that the place was a &$%@hole and it should be called the Outhouse. The name stuck. Unfortunately, the Flaming Lips van broke down and the show never occurred.
The stage was a box that stood approximately a foot and a half above the cement floor. Much later, a bar area was added to the back that was used to sell T-shirts, and other band merchandise, as well as refreshments. Alcohol was never served, but people often brought their own. At first alcohol was allowed in the club, but after the Outhouse received publicity in the local press, the Kansas ABC told the owner that it would begin enforcing the law at the Outhouse. Thereafter, alcohol was openly consumed in the parking-lot-front-yard, but not inside.
People would park in the front yard, and for large concerts, they would often park on the nearby gravel road. The field across the street was rumored to have housed a missile silo, but this was incorrect.
The building stood just outside of the jurisdiction of the Lawrence police department. The Outhouse rarely had any sort of security, but negative incidents were rare. No one stood between the audience and the band.
Prior to the Outhouse, venues such as Veterans of Foreign Wars Halls in Kansas City and the Lawrence Opera House (later called Liberty Hall) would host hardcore concerts. When several of the local venues closed, the Outhouse quickly became the place to see punk shows. Concerts at the Outhouse were very inexpensive, with the first shows costing $3, and with $8 being the high end in the early 1990s.
Shows at the Outhouse weren't limited to the typical hardcore genre; there were ska, alternative, thrash metal, Oi! and other types of underground genres. People would come from as far as Topeka, Kansas, Kansas City and sometimes further, and with the University of Kansas nearby, there was no shortage of patrons.
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The Outhouse promoters had few options to advertise concerts. The University of Kansas's KJHK radio was instrumental in promoting Outhouse shows. In Kansas City, the local public radio station, 90.1 KKFI, had a two hour hardcore/alternative show called The Little Orphan Annie Show (which went through several hosts and names), that would often announce concerts. The concerts were also sometimes announced in the local alternative newspaper The Pitch. The most common promotion technique was plastering flyers in Lawrence and in areas like the Westport neighborhood of the Kansas City Metropolitan area.
- Jon Niccum (September 15, 2006). "Right Tool for the job". LJWorld.com. Retrieved 2006-10-17.
- Inside the Outhouse - a retrospective by Lawrence.com
- Sonic Youth at the Outhouse