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New Eras For Eight Music Venues

24 August 2023 | 5:13 pm | Christie Eliezer

The live music landscape is shifting all across Australia.


Stranded (Supplied)

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As the Australian live sector slowly heads to “the new normal”, more venues are embarking on new eras.

As already reported in, Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley cocktail bar Stranded has, after a year of opening its doors, become a live music venue; it’s a sister business to The Zoo next door. See Mary Varvaris’ full report here.

The Locker Room, Newcastle

After noise complaint grief, The Locker Room – purpose-built 100-capacity live music venue, with a capacity of 100, inside Newcastle’s Adamstown Bowling Club – is expected to bring back the music in September.

The music was temporarily pulled, venue manager Matt Field explained, when a neighbour accosted a staff member who was conducting a volume reading on the boundary. The neighbour “made her feel really unsafe, swore at her, and she left the situation in tears.”

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The club was soundproofed, security has taken over decibel readings, and The Locker Room operates Friday and Saturday nights, with singer-songwriter evenings on Thursdays. It will be home to Field’s livestreamed TV show Music People, which the First Nations drummer set up in COVID-affected 2020. Through it, he paid 140 musicians and a 10-person production crew, and also raised money for social causes.

A new stadium in Canberra

Canberra live music fans and national promoters have to wait until the first half of 2024 to be told if the capital city will get a covered rectangular stadium with 30,000 seats. With the stadium costing upwards of $500 million, the ACT Government has begun a feasibility study on setting it up preferably in the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) precinct in Bruce.

At least one major promoter has warned the Government that Canberra needs a venue of that size, because for international tours, it’s already ranked below “B market” cities like Newcastle, Townsville and the Gold Coast. Another Government idea is an indoor entertainment and convention centre with 7,500 seats, which will cost $250 million.

“Canberra has been missing out on many major touring artists because we lack an iconic live music venue such as the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney and Palais Theatre in Melbourne,” said Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

The ACT Government also put together a task force to develop a night economy for the capital.

At Music ACT’s third State Of The Territory event in July, speaking on the panels were Brisbane City Council noise and planning specialist Frank Henry, creator of the Fortitude Valley entertainment precinct; University of Melbourne nighttime economy researcher Anna Edwards; and John Wardle, CEO of the Live Music Office.

The ACT contingent providing ideas were artists Muesli and Eden Plenty, One22 venue manager and DJ Ben Amando, and artist manager Aakanksha Sidhu.

Throb, Darwin

Throb Nightclub in Darwin may have to close by the end of the year – after 23 years of memories – if issues between its three operators and the building landlord are not resolved.

As reported by NT News, the issues are owed to “the future of lease and license and an insurance claim” on renovations and flooding in the building. The issue became public after co-operator Tim Palmer announced it on social media.

But Shane Dingnan of Halikos Group, parent company of landlord SOLIS Real Estate, told the paper, “There is no dispute,” and that the insurance claim was being resolved “before we can move on with lease negotiations.”

Throb was Darwin’s first LGBTQIA+ safe space, after a gay friend of the three was assaulted on the dancefloor of a venue and then “thrown out the back with the trash.”

Big O’s Juke Joint, Hobart

North Hobart has a new Saturday evening destination for soul and blues fans, with the opening of Big O’s Juke Joint at 2 Newdegate Street (above Kalbi).

Owner Owen Taplin explains that he fell in love with juke joints while travelling through the American Deep South – not only the music, but the food and their political sentiments – and wanted to translate the idea to this part of the world.

New venue for Mt. Gambier

Mt. Gambier in South Australia may have a music venue within a year, after Karen Bracken and Dale Barnard bought the 110-year old building which hosted Mt. Gambier’s only nightclub, Shadows.

That closed in 2020. Bracken and Barnard are in the midst of cleaning the building out, and they’re eyeing plans to host gigs as they’re avid fans of music and Barnard is a musician.

WA venues

Music venues in WA can be safer and more inclusive, particularly for women, people of colour and the LGBTQIA+ community.

The WA Government gave $60,000 to Safer Venues WA, funding a new website to provide practical information such as advice on signage and house policy development, door entry and bathroom safety procedures, and security briefing scripts. There is also a downloadable harassment report form and after-care cards.

Safer Venues WA was started as a measure to address safety and harassment concerns after a 2017 survey found that 67 percent of 550 respondents had been harassed in a Western Australian venue, with 80 percent of those people being women.

My Lover Cindi, Adelaide

Adelaide LGBTQIA+ nightclub and performance space My Lover Cindi has moved from its 120-capacity Flinders Street alleyway space to 2/192 Pirie Street, former home of Shotz Pool Lounge, and is now capable of holding 200.

Co-owners Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking are throwing a grand housewarming event on Saturday September 2.

Barking Dog / The Queen Of The West, Geelong

Geelong’s Barking Dog at 126 Pakington Street has reverted to its earlier name from the early 1900s, The Queen Of The West. In addition to renovations throughout, the venue’s operators have brought live performances back to its front bar.