The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'live music'


More on the impending closure of the Luminaire, arguably London's best music venue today, in the Guardian:

Widely regarded as the best small independent music venue in London, the Luminaire had it all: a booking policy of rare love and eccentricity, a beautiful performing space resplendent with mirrorball, and knowledgeable staff. Uniquely, it also had signs on the walls reminding punters that "no one paid to listen to you talking to your pals. If you want to talk to your pals when the bands are on, please leave the venue." This – along with outbreaks of shushing if anyone had the cheek to disobey the sign – allowed quieter, more delicate bands to thrive in a way simply not possible at other, more sticky-floored spaces.
The closure seemed to be part of a disturbing trend. In recent months London has also lost The Flowerpot, Barden's Boudoir, and The Cross Kings, with the 100 Club also struggling for survival. Sometimes all one wants is to go to a gig that isn't sponsored by a brand of lager or a mobile phone company. With the corporate takeover of indie music, small and proudly independent venues such as these felt increasingly like little beacons of charm in a sea of monochrome.
Various possible reasons for the closure are being advanced, from increases in onerous licensing requirements (now where have I heard that before?) to it, unfortunately, being too far north-west, implying that London's live music map is becoming homogeneously centralised around the stereotypically hipsterish areas of Shoreditch and Dalston, with all outside that area being fit only for naff cover bands. I wonder whether this could be a symptom of a deeper polarisation of London, with creative expression being confined to an inverse ghetto of sorts in the East End, and the rest of London becoming less receptive to such things.

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Another iconic Melbourne music value bites the dust; this time, it's the Tote, and the cause of death is not yuppification or rising property values but new licensing laws aimed at stopping the epidemic of violence (which, oddly enough, doesn't seem to have had anything to do with the Tote):

I can’t afford to keep fighting Liquor Licensing. The “high risk” conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably. I can’t afford the new “high risk” fees they have imposed. I can’t afford to keep fighting them at VCAT. I can’t renegotiate a lease in this environment.
So, come into the Tote this weekend to say farewell to the sad staff and to feel the sticky carpet for the last time.
I don’t believe the Tote is a “high risk” venue, in the same category as the nightclubs that make the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite being on a rough little corner of Collingwood, the Tote has had very, very few incidents. As a local police officer once said, “The Tote’s the quietest pub in the area.”

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Your humble correspondent saw Of Montreal in London last week. For what it's worth, they were as good as always, and photos are here.

I'm not sure if they were quite good enough to have paid twice for seeing them, though, which is what I ended up doing after my ticket didn't show up. I had ordered it, along with a ticket to another show in the future (Animal Collective on the 20th of August) from TicketWeb a week earlier, and until that morning, nothing arrived. I went to work as usual, and when I returned, I found an envelope waiting for me, though, upon opening it, discovered that it contained only the tickets for the show in August.

I went to the venue, explaining my situation, and asking if they had a ticket for me or my name on a list; they didn't, and told me to ring TicketWeb. I did, and found that their customer service line was closed for the night. So I ended up buying another ticket at the door, in the hope of getting a refund for my unused ticket when it turned up.

The ticket arrived in the mail yesterday, a whole six days late. Today, I rang TicketWeb, explaining my situation, and asking whether I could get a refund. They said that no; apparently, the onus is on the consumer to report that the ticket hadn't shown up before close of business on the day of the event. Which leaves me some £18 out of pocket.

Any other industry would be sufficiently concerned about its customer relations to throw a bone to the customer and issue a refund in good faith. (I offered to mail them the unused ticket as proof that I hadn't sold it on or anything.) Major event ticket agencies, however, are a corrupt oligopoly and, like all corrupt oligopolies, are quite happy to tell the customer to go screw themselves. After all, you play by their rules, however skewed and arbitrary they are, or it's no Beyonce for you.

Anyway, I have had enough, and I will never do business with TicketWeb or their parent company TicketMaster again. Even if this means not seeing any gig larger than would fit in the room above a pub, though thankfully, it does not come down to this. (There are more reputable ticket agencies selling tickets for a lot of events; We Got Tickets is one, and then there is the possibility of buying directly from venues.) Of course, not doing business with the TicketBastard probably means no LiveNation corporate-indie mega-events, but I can live with that. Anyway, if you're looking to buy a ticket to a gig, I urge you to avoid the thieving bastards at TicketMaster/TicketWeb.

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As yuppification and noise complaints force venues in Melbourne's traditional live music heartland (Fitzroy and environs) to close, go all-acoustic or become wine bars or boutique apartments, the scene is moving further out, and is apparently about to cross the barrier into Northcote; the people who run the Corner Hotel in Richmond are opening a new venue there next year, and looking for a name for it. Which could be a good sign for Northcote, which has mostly been a folk/roots/blues/feral-techno sort of place until now, though should have the demographics to support a live rock scene. I wonder whether it'll be the seed of a new local scene, or just an isolated venue like the ones which opened up in other "one-further-out" areas (Preston, Footscray, Sydney Rd. and such).

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Some bad news for live music in Melbourne. The Empress Hotel has been forced by Victoria's noise-complaint laws and the encroachment of yuppie apartments to cancel performances by bands who "cannot meet the stringent requirements demanded by the current liquor laws". Which presumably means they'll still have folkies with acoustic guitars (which is just what we need more of, isn't it?) but no actual bands with amplifiers and stuff. At least until they go out of business and get bought up by a pokie franchise or a real-estate developer.

I hope the people who moved to North Fitzroy for the vibrant culture, got sick of it and decided to turn the inner city into Nunawading or somewhere are pleased with what they've done. Cunts.

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The local street press has just confirmed the impending closure of the Punters Club (sometime after January), The proprietor is looking to open another venue somewhere less gentrified (possibly Northcote). Because of rising rents, whatever takes the Punters' place in Brunswick Street will probably be much more upmarket. In related news, a new venue has reopened on the site of the legendary Continental, another band venue which closed a while ago. It is probably enough to note that this venue is called the Boutique Dance Lounge, and recently played host to a single launch by manufactured Top 40 star and former Hollywood trophy wife Tina Arena. Ah yes, there's nothing like shiny machine-extruded crap for conspicuous consumption...

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On the future site of the Brunswick Street Starbucks? A piece in the age about the closure of the Punters Club in Brunswick Street. No hard facts about its impending closure, but somewhat depressing nonetheless.

(I went to the Punters Club tonight, actually. It was a fairly quiet Sunday night, with three bands playing (Grand Salvo, Sir and Wagons), and a fairly small crowd, with a genuine spirit of bonhomie. The Punters will be a great loss (as, indeed, will Brunswick Street as a cultural phenomenon). Oh well; let's hope the Empress Hotel, in North Fitzroy, stays around for a while yet.

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