Venue News: Closures, Sales, Reports, Tax Bills & More

6 February 2024 | 4:39 pm | Christie Eliezer

Adelaide loses another club, an iconic Sydney venue turns 100, a "hiccup" kills a cider brand's event plans, and more.

Red Square

Red Square (Supplied)

Adelaide Loses Red Square After 22 Years

Adelaide has lost yet another venue, this time Red Square nightclub in the Hindley Street entertainment precinct. Closing in March after 22 years, it follows half a dozen Adelaide venues which closed their doors over the holiday season. A 24-hour non-stop farewell party will be held on March 9.

Club management Wolf Nightlife Group made the announcement last Friday (February 2), explaining: “The street has changed dramatically in recent times, and all good things must come to an end. Red Square has been at the very heart of Adelaide’s club scene for over two decades; hosting countless international acts and starting the careers of many local DJs and MCs. Thank you to every single one of you who came through these doors.”

Wolf Nightlife Group chief Antony Tropeano said the company is starting a new venture, described as “a new concept that will take us through the next 20 years”.

Pleasure Club Sets Opening Date

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Ten months after announcing its arrival, venue operators Odd Culture Group set Friday February 23 as the opening date for Sydney’s Pleasure Club on Newtown’s King Street.

Making news last year as the first bar in Newtown to get a 4 am licence in a hundred years, the 120-capacity Pleasure runs Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm to 4am. Rock, jazz and blues will be predominant, curated by entertainment manager Sabrina Medcalf, formerly with Frankie’s and The Duke of Enmore.

Pleasure Club is the latest Sydney late night mecca, including Enmore’s The Trocadero Room, and the CBD’s Caterpillar Club. Odd Culture Group (Duke of Enmore, Old Fitz, Odd Culture Newtown) CEO James Thorpe says there’s a huge demand for these, even on Sunday nights.

Encore Marks Perth’s Latest Late Nighter

The 250-capacity late night entertainment space Encore made its debut last Friday. Situated upstairs at VAT116 in the Perth suburb of Rockingham, it will run Wednesday to Sunday until 2am.

There’ll be free and ticketed shows covering rock, country and jazz bands, DJs, comedy, open mics, tribute nights and drag performers.

Encore is the brainchild of hospitality veteran Marc Kenly and musician Matt Gresham, the latter of whom serves as Entertainment Manager. The space hosted nightclubs before, and went through a $3 million renovation including a state-of-the-art sound system and lighting, a huge stage big enough for a nine piece band, elevated platforms and booths.

Gold Coast Nighttime Economy Is Third Largest In Australia

The Gold Coast has the third largest nighttime economy in Australia, according to a report by the Gold Coast City Council. It’s worth $4.1 billion, with live music the second biggest player after restaurants.

Of the $4.1 billion, entertainment accounts for $1.62 billion (taking 39 percent of the pie) while food has $2.26 billion (or 55 percent) and drinks are $240 million or six percent. There are 1,255 entertainment venues on the Gold Coast (accounting for 34 percent) with food outlets making up 62 percent and drinks places at just 4 percent.

Entertainment venues are the second largest employers with 10,695 workers (29.1 percent) compared to 23,555 for food places (54 percent) and 2,510 for bars (7 percent).

The NTE figures were part of an overall report from the City on tourism, extending the light rail network between Tugun and Coolangatta via Gold Coast Airport, and supporting more live music venues.

Mayor Tom Tate said, “As Australia’s third largest night time economy, our goal is to become a ‘live music city’ with world-class venues like an indoor entertainment arena and town hall to showcase global and local talents. We’re already seeing major international acts choose to perform here. We’ve hosted Harry Styles, Sir Paul McCartney – and now Blondie and Alice Cooper will be gracing the stage at Doug Jennings Park in April.

“It highlights the need for strong transport links to connect our night time precincts, enabling locals and visitors to easily enjoy the entertainment on offer across the city as well as our buzzing restaurant and bar scenes.”

Hordern Pavilion Blowing 100 Candles

Playbill Venues, which manages the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, is marking its 100th birthday on April 2 although celebrations will run throughout this year.

The Hordern has not only hosted major concerts, but was instrumental in the ‘70s for the breakthrough of the EDM scene. It also hosted the ARIA Awards the last two years and the 2023 TikTok Awards.

“Everyone has a story about their first concert at the Hordern, which only adds to the importance and significance of the venue,” said Playbill Group managing director Michael Nebenzahl.

For Sale: The Stag, Dust Temple, Mr. Kim

Big Easy Group put live music venue and dance club Stag Public House in Adelaide East for sale alongside its sister restaurant House of George next door.

The group took over The Stag in 2018 after the previous owner fell into administration, and now wants to focus on its other venues as NOLA Bar in the East End, Bowden Brewing, Bandit Pizza & Wine at Hyde Park and Anchovy Bandit and Bottega Bandito in Prospect.

Dust Temple in Currumbin, the Gold Coast, remains on the market after failing to get a new owner after going to auction in late January. John and Isla Wilson, who took over the business in 2013, are asking $5.2 million for it as they want to work on other projects.

Adelaide hip hop/party nightclub Mr. Kim on Hindley Street is on the trading block after ten years. But the owner is insistent that it be bought by an operator to continue as a nightclub. The deal offers not only the three-storey building but access to thousands of its social media followers and the fish in its fish tank.

Music Trial For Hobart’s Salamanca Place

Hobart City is trialling live music on Sundays (noon to 8pm) in the Salamanca Place precinct for a year. Marti Zucco got fellow councillors to vote for it by explaining how it would be beneficial for the area’s reputation as a tourism and hospitality hotspot, and to provide increased employment for local musicians.

He promised the venues involved will operate under strict noise levels. “If anyone breaches the decibels put forward, give me a call and I’ll go down there and I’ll unplug them myself,” Zucco is quoted as telling councillors.

Star Theatre Robbed

Star Theatre in Adelaide was hit with two break-ins last month, losing about $40,000 worth of essential equipment. This comes just as it is set to host 100 Adelaide Fringe performances starting February 16.

Theatre manager Malcolm Harslett took to social media with a lengthy list of the gear. They included Yamaha mixers, Sennheiser and Shure mics, speakers, lighting, mic stands and Macbook laptops.

Survey For Sunshine Coast Nightlife

The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) is calling on the music industry and the public to fill out a survey to get input in the state of the Sunshine Coast’s nightlife.

In December, the university’s School of Business and Creative Industries released a preliminary report which identified some challenges.

“Cost of living is biting in multiple ways – not just consumer spending – but with operating and supply costs, and staff not being able to afford to live close to venues, making them harder to attract,” said Dr Lenny Vance, lead author of the report. “There are also distinct local issues. Some are cultural such as the coast's "sparrow lifestyle" (early to bed/early to rise) and changes in Gen Z behaviours. Others are external, such as the lack of public transport.”

Local businesses were initially optimistic about pent up demand after COVID restrictions were lifted. “But the reality has failed to match expectations – particularly in the live music sector – as evidenced by the closure of venues such as NightQuarter and Eleven Dive Bar in the past 13 months.”

The USC also identified some positive news, with the success of Noosa Junction a new model for the sector, a 2,000-capacity venue in Maroochydore and industry space being used for nightlife venues.

UK Grassroots Venues Closing At Rate Of Two A Week

Grassroots music venues in the UK are closing at a rate of two a week, according to the Music Venue Trust’s 2023 annual report. About 125 closed in 2023, hit by rising rent demands (up 37 percent) and high energy costs.

It transpires as 38 percent reported a loss through the year despite a jump in demand for tickets. They generated £500 million ($964.3 million AUD) in revenues but just only made a combined £2.5 million ($4.28 million) in profit, a margin of 0.5 percent. They only survived through government grants and donations.

King’s Park Planning More Concerts

King’s Park in Perth is planning more concerts. It released a tender, which closed last week, for an experienced promoter to stage between six and 15 concerts (of up to 6,600 strong crowds) between November and April, beginning on May 1, 2025 (with a bond of $20,000) and ending April 30, 2030. The appropriate Minister has the authority to pull an event deemed not appropriate for the park.

The tender is for a five-year term, but a longer term could be negotiated if the successful bidder commits to ”investment in capital improvements to the site”.

Gold Coast Nightclubs Have Tax Deductions

The companies behind Gold Coast nightclubs Cali Beach, SinCity/Tempo, Surfers Pavilion and Havana RnB won a battle against the Australian Tax Office (ATO), the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.

After warning they would go into liquidation if the ATO rejected their offer (and the tax folks would get zilch or very little), they were allowed to pay only $475,000 of a $2.2 million tax bill.

According to the report from administrator Nikhil Khatri of Worrells, Cali Beach owed $911,024; Surfers Pavilion owed $822,915; Havana owed $231,810 and Tempo/Sincity owed $152,018.

“Hiccup” For Simple Cider

Cider and wine brewery Simple Cider has been told by Hobart City Council it can no longer hold its live events due to a “planning hiccup”, the Hobart Mercury reported.

Simple Cider started in 2020 as a cider producer but soon expanded to hosting live music, comedy nights and charity events “because there was a need for it,” said owner Patrick Meagher. “Essentially our inexperience with the planning process and the communication with the various people involved has lead us to being in a situation where we’re not compliant.”

The two parties are working on solving the issue.