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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Tantra, locals see a new moment for music in San Marcos

Kobe Arriaga
Customers enjoy the soft-launch grand opening of Tantra Coffee Shop, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2023, at Tantra Coffee Shop in San Marcos.

Tantra, a coffee shop locals claim served as a San Marcos music hub which closed during the pandemic, opened its doors again on Nov. 1. COVID-19 caused a halt in the live music scene of San Marcos, but with the new opening of Tantra, some locals have questioned if the music community will be impacted.

“I think the music scene has changed a lot since [COVID-19],” George Pappas, a local musician who does solo projects under the name “The Homily”, said. “But there’s Hippie San Marcos that I think was traditionally based out of Tantra. That was a cultural hub for what people think of as San Marcos.”

Tantra originally opened in 2005 as one of the first venues that Matthew Driskill, a local sound engineer and Texas State alumnus, came to when he came to San Marcos in 2017 to attend Texas State. He said it was what got him involved in the music scene.

Driskell believes Tantra’s live music times will allow a wider variety of people to enjoy the music scene.

“Having at least one not-late-night music scene is pretty great for some of the less hardcore people in town,” Driskill said. “It’s always good to have a variety of times in which you can see a show, not just from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. It’s very nice to have that 7-11 p.m. crowd.”

Pappas, who plays in six local bands, used to play at pre-pandemic Tantra and met people who would become his bandmates while frequenting the coffee house. He said San Marcos is broken up into several different music genres and groupings; one branch is San Marcos Fest and other festivals hosted by Apogee Presents.

Pappas also said Cheatham Street has a more singer-songwriter, country culture. He said the Stellar Open Mic night community had its own culture that consists highly of college students.

“It’s not all one sound, but there’s a cultural cohesion for that [hippie] branch of San Marcos,” Pappas said.

Stellar Coffee, along with its open mic night, closed down in September this year, dispersing the regular attendees to other music-sharing spaces. Pappas noted that several of the live music events he’s seen tend to be focused on college-aged attendees, whereas Tantra had more regulars who weren’t college students.

David Russell, local musician and Texas State alumnus, has been waiting for Tantra to reopen since it closed in 2020. Russell first discovered Tantra as a freshman at Texas State in 2011. Walking from his dorm to the coffee house, he created a network of other musicians at Tantra’s weekly open mic on Monday nights. It was the first stage Russell performed on in San Marcos.

“Tantra felt like one of the centerpieces of community and live music in San Marcos,” Russell said. “Tantra had an identity that was so authentically San Martian. I always saw it as being part of the definition of San Marcos.”

Magnus Timbre, who plays shows and books events in San Marcos, said he is looking forward to going to Tantra for the first time soon.

“I think Tantra reopening is a chance for the San Marcos music scene to flourish,” Timbre said. “We’ve been losing a lot of venues and small businesses lately; Stonewall and Studio San Martian; little shops around town, like Solid Gold. Pretty soon all you have left is bars to go to, shows at and to hang out at generally, and bar culture isn’t for everyone.”

To keep up with the events at Tantra Coffee Shop, go to https://www.tantrasanmarcos.com/

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