I've largely quit going to live music -- not out of any sort of weird statement, but just 'cause I'm an old man. As a result, I've never been to the Masquerade, though I've driven by it a bazillion times. Never really thought much about it, to be honest. It mostly caters to the metal and mainstream punk crowds, as far as I can tell. When I first moved out here, I think it was a lot more hair metal-oriented.
(Yeah, I'm passing up on the chance to see Agent Orange)
It's not, at first glance, a terribly interesting building -- it just seems to be a large and rather unremarkable warehouse club. But just a slightly closer look (granted, I didn't notice for six years or so) reveals it to be a pretty interesting place.
If you ignore the black facade that's closer to the street, the Masquerade building stands revealed as an old excelsior mill -- built by DuPre Manufacturing in 1901 (according to the Atlanta Preservation Center). The Masquerade's been chronically endangered -- in fact, if I recall correctly, it actually did shut down for a time -- and reportedly it's not long for this world, but the condos/restaurants that take over will keep the existing structure.
Like I said, I've never been inside the building, so I don't really know if it's all used for the concerts, or if much of it is just empty. Wandering around a bit, much of it is in poor shape -- tons of broken windows, lots of garbage and rust.
Lots of old mill equipment, too -- and it seems to be in better shape than the rest of the building. I don't have a clue what an excelsior mill produced (ok, now I sort of do) but someone has done a good job of keeping the equipment looking good.
The Masquerade lies at the bottom of a rail embankment (shown above) and has enormous grounds behind it (sorta shown below). I'm not sure what, if anything, the grounds are used for now. Poking around a bit, I saw some more equipment, a few separated buildings, and one sign for the Mellow Mushroom -- according to Wikipedia, the building was the first site for the local pizza chain, before becoming the Masquerade. Apparently the restaurant hasn't been there in 20 years, but the sign looked pretty fresh.