By: Sam Cox (@)
Located down Jackson Avenue you’ll find many of Oxford’s favorite restaurants, clothing stores and odd shops. Other than everyday commercial establishments, you wouldn’t look for much more. Tucked away between Johnson Furniture and Anytime Fitness is Vaporized vape shop, home to the short-lived, but much-loved music venue, “The Wall.”
The Wall, which opened its stage to an array of acts over the few months, started as a concept in the minds of Austin Wheeler and Tanner Scaggs.
The shop was originally at a much smaller location, but once Vaporized moved to its current location on Jackson Avenue, the two began brainstorming for a way to use the space.
“When we saw how huge it was, Tanner and I would just pace around the room contemplating things you could do with all that space, and we kept coming back to the joke, ‘let’s just start a venue,’” Wheeler said.
“We wanted to accept all original music and have a place where people could express themselves freely,” Scaggs said.
The Wall was “not just a venue, but rather a community…an open space dedicated to providing unique and genuine experiences for audiences and artists alike,” Wheeler added.
On the morning of Thursday, Oct. 6, Scaggs received a cease and desist letter delivered personally to him by an attorney. According to the letter, the concert held that Tuesday, which included the bands Good Bueno, Pinebox and Listener started too early, which caused a disturbance to some of the other tenants nearby. The tenants’ noise complaint ended The Wall as venue, after only being open five months.
“To put it bluntly, it was crushing,” Scaggs said. “We loved being able to have this place. It was my proudest accomplishment… We were able to provide a place where all types of expression were welcomed and that is such a rarity. Even if it was for a short time, it was without a doubt amazing.”
“It was one thing for Tanner and I to believe in what we were doing, but by the end of it, our audience and locals also believed in what we were doing,” Wheeler said. “People were asking how they could get involved. They saw something special in it, and for us to have to deliver the news to those same people that we weren’t able to continue was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had.”
I wasn’t around Oxford during a majority of the summer, but week after week, I saw the Wall booking shows and growing in popularity on social media. Local Mississippi artists such as Carlos Danger, Ben Ricketts, Argiflex and Pinebox were all sharing the stage at The Wall. As the venue’s reputation continued to grow, I was excited to see the music scene that I kept close to my heart finally have an outlet in Oxford. Indie-punk act Listener was a huge snag for The Wall. Listener, who is a huge influence to Wheeler and many others, was also the last act to play the venue.
My first show at The Wall just so happened to be the last, but it was truly memorable. There’s nothing quite like being able to stand in a room surrounded by over 100 people of all different backgrounds and feeling like you’ve known them your whole life. The Wall will be missed, and the Oxford music scene has already started to feel the effects of the loss.
“Whenever I think about it, it’s not the loss of money that we poured into it that I mourn for, it’s that we can no longer bring people together in the same capacity for those unique experiences,” Wheeler said.