Music venues: end of the road for some, new eras for others
Events last week served to underline just how volatile circumstances are for live music venues.
On October 2, Hotel Soho in Hobart closed its doors after a 25-year run.
It had a predominantly college clientele, attracted as much for cheap meals as for the four nights a week live entertainment.
“We’ve tried everything,” management posted, thanking patrons for their support and adding, “A new adventure awaits here at 124 Davey Street. So stay tuned.”
Adelaide heavy metal / punk bar Enigma, on the Hindley Street strip, is also skating on thin ice, warned Eric Ott who founded the venue 22 years ago.
Ott said the bar was at a tipping point due to the pandemic and the ongoing shutdowns in Sydney and Melbourne.
“Just over the last few months we have had over 60 cancellations of interstate and international touring bands.
“Unfortunately even some of the patrons and bands who would support local shows are reluctant to venture out because of corona virus restrictions with masks and seating requirements who may not be able to enjoy the event.”
The Enigma has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $70,000 to keep paying rent and utilities.
Ott has remortgaged his home and sold his car to keep debtors at bay.
The iconic Kuranda Amphitheatre in Cairns, in Far North Queensland, last weekend also held an appeal. $5 from each ticket for the Kuranda Spring Festival went to keep the venue open.
Kuranda Amphitheatre Society president Liza Dewey said the venue – which has hosted the likes of INXS and Midnight Oil over 40 years – is in dire straits as it’s had to come up with $60,000 a year to survive, but has had concerts and other events.
“It is very hard at the moment, we don’t know what is going to happen,” Dewey confessed. “We are trying to stay optimistic, but it is pretty tricky.”
Other venues are on the market: these include the building housing queer Sydney mecca ARQ Nightclub, and The Armatree in Dubbo, NSW.
Others are getting a new lease of life under new owners.
Joe’s Waterhole in Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast is about to go through a major renovation by Good Drinks Australia which bought it recently for $5.3 million.
The Saracens Head Hotel
Adelaide’s Saracens Head will reopen by Christmas after SA pubs group Duxton took it over. It’s been closed since March 2020 when previous owner Bloody Mary Group went into administration.
Moelis Australia, which bought Byron Beach Hotel (NSW) in early 2020, is spending $3.5 million in upgrading its sound and lighting, and a new kitchen, for when live music audiences return.