Beloved Brisbane Venues The Zoo & Stranded Bar Closing Their Doors

1 May 2024 | 11:26 am | Mary Varvaris

"Despite exploring every avenue available to us, we could not secure the level of support needed to surmount the continued financial strain."

The Zoo

The Zoo (Credit: Cat Clarke)

In a double whammy for Brisbane’s music scene, beloved venues The Zoo and its sister space, Stranded Bar, will soon close their doors.

Punters wanting to show their love to Stranded Bar have less time than The Zoo, with the venue closing on Monday, 6 May. The final day of trade for The Zoo will be on Monday, 8 July.

Stranded, a new venue, hosted 250 patrons (and was named after The Saints’ song), while The Zoo hosted 500—two important spaces for artists’ growth in Brisbane. The Zoo hosted everyone from The Pixies, Silverchair, The Black Keys, Lorde, Ben Harper, Nick Cave, and The Dirty Three.

The Zoo notably celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2022, locking in a celebratory event starring the likes of Screamfeeder, Regurgitator, Butterfingers, and many more. But fast-forward to 2024, and the “financial reality” of keeping concert venues afloat has struck yet another space just months away from celebrating 32 years of live music.

In a candid statement posted to Instagram, The Zoo owners wrote that the venue reached its highest ticket sales in its history last year, but that still wasn’t enough to combat “rising operational costs and decreasing returns”.

The owners stated that they tried to keep venue hire costs “as low as possible” for artists and promoters, putting themselves under financial strain and depending on profitable bar sales.

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However, “the cost of supplying alcohol is rising, and bar sales are going down, likely due to a mix of lifestyle changes and cost-of-living stress for our patrons,” the statement said, with owners declaring the “hard truth” of running The Zoo at a loss for over three years.

“Despite exploring every avenue available to us, we could not secure the level of support needed to surmount the continued financial strain. We have no choice but to call last drinks for both of our beloved music venues,” the statement reads.

The Zoo family thanked punters for their loyalty and support over 32 years and urged patrons to keep the Brisbane music scene alive, “advocate for live music, to implore our government and music bodies to do everything they can to prevent more venues from closing their doors due to the industry-wide financial pressure that is decimating venues across the country.”

At the end of the statement, The Zoo owners promised “very special” last shows to take place over the next few months, with the current owner, Shane Chidgzey, telling The Guardian in a new interview that farewell shows and an auction of venue memorabilia are on the way.

Stranded, which started as a cocktail bar, became the city’s latest music venue last year. CLBR Managing Director Nathan Farrell told The Music about the space: “Stranded is a dive bar that’s grown up. We have Hip Hop, Country, Soul, R&B, Pop, Hyperpop Club Nights, Jazz, Electronic, and heaps more coming up.

Stranded was described as “a more structured music offering into the great vibe already there. The added advantage is some more drink options than your standard live venue offering. We've got some amazing shows and experiences coming but with the same free late-night hang the regulars love.”