Venue News: Fundraising, Launches, Closures, Backlashes & More

2 April 2024 | 7:32 pm | Christie Eliezer

More venues are in the firing line, while others are starting out strong.

Crown & Anchor

Crown & Anchor (Supplied)

Petition To Save Adelaide’s Crown & Anchor

Another Adelaide music venue is in the firing line, this time the East End’s Crown & Anchor.

Singaporean developer Wee Hur Holdings lodged plans for “partial demolition and adaptive reuse” for a multi-storey student accommodation on the heritage 171-year old site on Grenfell Street. Also housing the venues Roxie’s, Chateau Apollo and Midnight Spaghetti, the site is owned by SA developer Karidis Corporation.

A campaign named after its nickname Cranka gathered 5,600 members in its first week. “This hotel has significant heritage value, but more so its value as a cultural site. It is a church to many. A safe haven, a senate, a party, a listening ear, a delightful ale,” said organisers.

Crown & Anchor was instrumental in the launches of locals like Bad//Dreems and The Grenadiers, proprietor Tom Skipper said – and of The Superjesus, singer Sarah McLeod stated.

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The Greens are pushing for an overhaul of planning laws to consider the “cultural and social heritage” of buildings before development. Greens MLC Robert Simms said, “While it’s clear that there is a significant need for new housing to address the ongoing housing crisis, there are already vacant sites in the CBD that could be investigated for use instead of constructing a tower on the location of one of the handful of CBD pubs that still regularly hosts live music.”

The Crown & Anchor drama comes weeks after Pirie Street queer bar My Lover Cindi asked patrons to “pay it forward”, buy more drinks at the bar and bring friends as it staves off its own closure. It revealed a soft summer came on top of electricity bills doubling from $2,000 per quarter to over $4,000 over 12 months, public liability insurance up 18 percent from $35,497 to $42,145, the new alcohol tax, rising wages and cost of supplies.

New To The Scene: Preach, Misfits & Reggies

Perth’s latest nightclub Preach launched last weekend (March 30) in the same Lake Street, Northbridge site as Library (which socialite couple Yusuf Khan and Cynthia Lu also ran), Hannibals, The Kremlin and The Church.

To Melbourne’s Footscray came Misfits, a hybrid music venue, bar and exhibition space, on the site of Baby Snakes. Hospitality vets Jacob Bell, Amber Hahipene and Jerry Poon (the latter also serving as music director) plan to utilise the space for laneway parties and festivals.

Reggie’s, which launched in Launceston’s Brisbane Street (where Phoenix Nightclub used to be) – aiming to recreate the vibe of New York’s Studio 54 with ‘70s themed décor and music – had to close its doors temporarily just weeks after opening them. The problem: a plumbing issue.

P!nk Sets New Attendance Record At Townsville Stadium

The operators of Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville revealed that P!nk’s March 22 and 23 shows – the final two on her Summer Carnival tour – set a new crowd record with 65,000 fans attending over two big nights. The previous record, Stadium Manager Tom Kimball revealed, was the 2021 State of Origin game which had a crowd of around 27,000.

The P!nk crowd also had 20,000 from outside the region, according to Townsville Enterprise chief executive Claudia Brumme-Smith. Her visit boosted businesses like hotels, restaurants, bars and retail outlets by $50 million.

Townsville drummed up the vibe with a huge mural, landmarks, businesses lit up in pink, pop-up selfie doors, P!nk-inspired menus, on-route music trails, pink-gin sip and sail cruises. There was also a P!nk Parade and concert afterparties – and Billabong Sanctuary named their two latest joeys after the artist’s children Willow and Jameson.

The stadium hired 150 staff for the shows, and expected to sell 15,000 glasses of wine, 10,000 cans of pink gin and soda, and 4,000 bags of chips.

The singer also set new attendance records at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium and Auckland’s Eden Park, selling almost one million tickets between her 20 stadium shows. They were also the most ever performed by any artist in Australia and NZ on a single tour.

For Townsville, her success allows the city and venue to bid for more major concerts.

Last Drinks For Caravan Club, Woody’s Surf Shack & The Bendigo Hotel

Caravan Club in Melbourne’s Oakleigh South is closing on Friday April 26, with a run of gigs by Don Walker & The Suave Fucks, Eric Kuepper, Augie March, Black Sorrows, Vika and Linda Bull, Mark Seymour, Adalita and Mick Thomas.

In April 2004, a group of friends assembled a little PA on noisy Dandenong Road and put on their first house concert. The venue later moved to a number of suburbs. One of the operators, Peter Foley, posted,  “Although we desperately love what we have created and it is really difficult letting go, we can feel ourselves sliding into a tired and grumpy abyss, and that ain’t a place we wanna be.”

Byron Bay nightclub Woody’s Surf Shack closed in March after 13 years, attributing it to the redevelopment of the Jonson Street plaza with a three-storey, 44-apartment project valuated at $57.2 million.

The reasons why Melbourne metal mecca The Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood did the kabosh were earlier covered by TheMusic. On Easter Sunday, it bowed out with a packed-to-the-rafters show with sets by Pizza Death, Shatter Brain, Carcinoid Nephalem and Choof. To recap, rent was up 30 percent and insurance was up 300 percent, while sales dipped by 40 percent.

New CEO For Collingwood Yards

Lauren O’Dwyer begins as the new Chief Executive Officer for inner city Melbourne arts precinct Collingwood Yards on April 15. She held senior roles in the public service, tertiary institutions, politics and the arts.

What Brought Bunker Smoke House Undone

A debt of $400,000 to 19 creditors – including $198,411 to the Australian Taxation Office – was what caused Gympie’s Bunker Smoke House to go into voluntary liquidation last Christmas.

The Sunshine Coast Daily reported the figures based on liquidation papers. Jarrod Dan and Lauren Langley opened the venue on Reef Street in late 2020, during the major throes of COVID-19. Dan Not said pandemic restrictions by various levels of government were “unrealistic and inconsistent” and contributed to the woes of small businesses.

Name Changes: Heritage Bank Stadium, State Theatre & More

Gold Coast’s Heritage Bank Stadium is now People First Stadium. This follows the merger of Heritage Bank and People’s Choice last year. The venue was also known as Carrara Stadium and Metricon Stadium.

When Melbourne’s 2,079-seat State Theatre reopens in 2027, post-renovations, it will be as The Ian Potter State Theatre. This was in recognition of the famed arts philanthropist’s $15 million donate to its revamp. This includes more aisles, new seats, wheelchair positions in the stalls (not just the circle and boxes), and improved lighting and acoustics.

Perth’s HBF Stadium and HBF Arena will need new names after the health insurer dropped its longtime naming rights branding. But HBF extended its naming rights to the 20,500-seat HBF Park stadium for a further three years.

Live Music Continues At Moon

The tradition of live music at Perth’s Moon Café continues under new owners Chris McLoughlin, Elliott Chipper and Andy Brazowski. They plans to introduce 2am openings on the weekends at the Williams Street, Northbridge business after trialling it during Fringe World.

A boost in music is expected when the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts moves nearby from its Mt. Lawley campus (with 1,300 students made up of musicians, actors, singers and dancers) and starts to put on events next year ahead of its official opening in 2026.

The Moon made its mark as a live music and dining venue under previous owners, siblings Georgia and Tom Mathieson, whose family ran it for 20 years. When they put it on the market last year, they wanted the new owner to appreciate its cultural and diversity-centred values.

Accessibility Upgrade For Petersham Bowling Club

Petersham Bowling Club in Sydney started a $1 million funding campaign for a full-venue accessibility update. This is its largest building upgrade since 1972.

This weekend (April 6 and 7), it hosts the Sham Fest festival. The deaf community will provide Auslan interpretation for main acts, with volunteers from Gig Buddies onsite.

Change Of Owners For Sphinx, Cecil & More

After 53 years of running The Sphinx Hotel in North Geelong, Victoria, the Ramia family is offering it as a new long-term lease or a freehold going concern. The building on Thompson Road has a 14-metre-high replica of a sphinx on the roof.

The Cecil Hotel in the Southport CDB, Queensland, with its own entertainment room, is on sale for the second time in two years. Its owners Greg Ryall and Paul Smith cite age and health issues. When they tested the market in 2021, it had over 100 inquiries and offers of around $13 million.

Also going on the market were two music-hosting pubs in Newcastle – The Gladstone in Stockton and Railway Hotel in Muswellbrook.

Promoters Calm Grumbles After Fred Again.. Pop-Up

Authorities have moved quickly to quell a move to stop or restrict the amount of concerts and music festivals at the Spit beach and recreation area on the Gold Coast.

The problem began at a March 9 Fred again.. pop-up show when 31,500 turned up. Afterwards, regular bus services were overwhelmed, punters who brought hire bikes simply discarded them on the footpath on their way home, and many relieved themselves because of non-availability of toilets en route.

A backlash called for music events to be scrapped in the area. Angry residents wanted the number of concerts and festivals to be limited to ten a year, a cap of 10,000 on crowds for these, higher leasing fees for promoters, and a complete review.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that the Gold Coast Waterways Authority moved quickly to soften the backlash, especially with the Queensland date of the three-state Souled Out festival set for March 23 at Doug Jennings Park in the Spit. It met with council, police, Souled Out promoter Cross Promotions and traffic experts to ensure no repetition. It worked: Souled Out had 18,500.

Cross Promotions’ Billy Cross told the Bulletin, “The traffic management was first class, traffic build up was minimal, rental bikes were promptly removed after use and toilets were placed on the route to the park in addition to the facilities available on site.”

There are three more music festivals to play at the Spit this year, and the Authority said it will “continue engaging with key stakeholders about upcoming events, providing information for times, dates, scale, road closures, other specific requirements, and potential issues.”