Amidst Perth Live Music Closures, a New Venue Emerges on the Northern Front
A sense of gloom has arisen in the Perth music scene in recent times, with live venues either closing (Badlands, Convenients, Aardvark, The Sewing Room) or fighting for life (The Bird).
So it’s interesting to learn of a brand new live room with full state-of-the-art production opening up in the northern suburb of Joondalup. The announcement comes from Monster Management, the team who have operated Perth’s Amplifier/Magnet House and Fremantle’s Metropolis Concert Club for over two decades.
Monster Management MD Jeff Halley has been active in the Perth music scene since the mid-‘80s as a manager, booker and musician (The Freuds and to this day The Chevelles) and knows full well the hardships faced by live venues.
“It’s very hard and I really feel for those other venues. Being an original music person in Perth that’s how I got into things, putting together gigs at the Shenton Park, Old Melbourne, Wizbah, Coronado, Newport, etc. back in the late ‘80s/early 90s,” he says, listing off an array of beloved Perth venues that have long since disappeared from the landscape.
“It’s always been tough, but with the advent of triple j being national then social media and everything I’ve think things got slightly easier there for a while being a WA venue. Airfares were cheaper, lots of national acts were coming in and our own local original scene always seemed reasonably buoyant to me… but it’s been very tough post COVID.
“And it’s just really disappointing to see such beloved venues falling by the wayside and I say that for myself as not only a venue booker/operator and local musician myself who’s played in bands here forever, but it’s been a really tough time for everyone.”
While the spirit of competition may deem that live music venue operators are rivals, the loss of a dedicated venue affects the whole ecosystem.
“Totally,” agrees Halley. “It’s of no advantage to any of the venues standing for there to be a minimal amount of venues. When there are more venues, and more bands playing and more local shows being put on and more touring acts coming in, whether they’re local, national or international, it’s just a more buoyant market if more people are going out.
“I think we’re all a little bit alarmed at the moment with the current situation and looking forward to a lot more in 2024 and beyond.”
Back in the ‘70s/’80s live music thrived across the suburbs of Perth, before centralising near the inner city and the hub of Fremantle. With the introduction of LOOP, could we be seeing the return of suburban live music?
“I would like to think that there is a positive there in taking live music out to the suburbs,” Halley notes. “As you say, back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, although my age doesn’t stretch quite as far there I’m well aware of the lineage and the history. There was a whole lot of venues from Morley up across to the eastern suburbs, whether it was the Raffles, the Generator, the Floreat, the Nookenburra, there were certainly plenty of beer barns that not only had big cover bands, but also a lot of touring acts coming in at the time.
“You know, whether it was a young INXS, or a young Cold Chisel or a young Skyhooks or a young Icehouse or The Church, a lot of bands were put out into those suburban gigs and there was a sink or swim mentality.”
Halley says that opening up the LOOP as a live music offering has a lot to do with trying to capitalise on a different audience market.
“We realised there’s a very large spread north – Scarborough, Hillarys, Clarkson, Brighton right up to Yanchep and Two Rocks,” he explains. “I haven’t even hit the inner suburbs yet… there’s Joondalup, Ellenbrook and surrounds, so we realised there’s a huge northern sprawl. Opening a club up there with the thought of live music was always in our heads – to try and make that offering available to that demographic and try and build a live music market up there.
“I can’t think of any venues that far north that are doing original music let alone touring artists and we certainly realise it’s a challenge.”
As well as high quality production the 500-capacity LOOP will showcase diversity in its programming in much the same way as Amplifier, Magnet House and Metropolis Fremantle.
“We do everything from indie rock, and commercial pop/rock acts, right through to bass trance, EDM right through to the other end of the sphere and we do a lot of punk rock and metal as well,” Halley notes.
“That’s been one of my themes as a booker. Over the past 30 years I’ve been booking various venues and I’ve always found that it’s best for venues and for the live music scene to be diverse and not just stick to one genre. Whether it’s local or national or international, we’re open to considering everything. I guess we’re all up for the challenge, at least willing to trial it over the next 12 months and see what we can make happen.”
LOOP kicks off its live music experience with Australian indie rock legends, British India on Friday, December 15. Tickets via Oztix.