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Re-opened after a 15 year hiatus, on December 10th, 2015, Hardback Cafe on University Avenue. We featured original musical performances, art exhibits, comedy, poetry, both upstairs and down. The balcony was cool!

In 2018, Hardback moved to Undertown, a magical land of plentiful parking, and relief from .08 Second's incessant thumping sub-whoofers.

Samurai Skateshop joined the Undertown scene in the summer of 2019, adding their skater zen to the enlightenment of all.

Hardback Cafe is primarily a venue for new performance art. Local bands can easily get their first show at the Hardback. We simply provide space for artistic projects. Shows can involve videos, projections, live painting, theatre, rock bands, hip hop. Anything goes at the Hardback.

If you perform original works, you should visit Hardback Cafe to organize a performance. That is WHY Hardback Cafe exists!

You should also visit Hardback Cafe to meet and attend other performers, for the free exchange of ideas is the cornerstone of Liberty.

The Hardback is a Safe Space, where all flavors are welcome. We celebrate diversity.

NOW, in the age of the interweb, live musical performances struggle to compete with DJs. For that reason, many of the downtown Gainesville venues feature DJs, Karaoke, or Burlesque. While the Hardback does feature occasional Hip-Hop and Burlesque shows, they are original and creative performances. We never have DJs spin covers, or karaoke.

So support local arts/music by attending live performances.

Read Gainesville Downtown



Kurt Wolfgang- designed an early hardback t-shirt


New School webpage

Old School webpage

Hardback Times & Propaganda


Alligator Article






YOU can read about how Gainesville has always been a hot-spot of original musicians, from the 1960s on through the 2000s. There's Music Everywhere: The Rock and Roll Roots of a Southern Town , by Marty Journard (covering 1960s and 70s)... and Gainesville Punk: A History of Bands and Music , by Matt Walker (covering the 1980s up to the current resurgence). Tom Petty, Stephen Stills, Eagles' Bernie Leadon and Don Felder, Hot Water Music, Less Than Jake, Against Me! have all arisen from the liberal-artsy Gainesville, a college town which has generally fostered the arts, and somewhat incidentally or even ironically supported local music.

In the late 1980s, the Police were instructed by the Government to supress the lively house-party scene in Gainesville, which had fostered the band scene but had annoyed the neighborhoods which were being gentrified. Up to that time, venues typically hired cover bands to provide entertainement; and at best, some bands would throw in an original or two.

The Hardback was the perfect solution! First opened in April 1989, in Gainesville's then sparcely peopled downtown... (redevolopment fruits seen today were just sprouting then) The Hardback occupied the spaces now known as Boca Fiesta, The Backyard, and Palomino, and then it was not the highly refined commercial real estate it is today. It was a dive, but it was magical, and unique. It provided local bands with a safe-house for 10 years. Hardback closed in 1999.

Check out

hardbackgainesville on facebook and please subscribe to our event page for all the upcoming shows