Venues I have known

01:37, Feb 07 2013

A while ago I was thinking about great nights out that I had had in the Christchurch of my youth, specifically the bands that I had gone to see at various venues, mostly in the central city. I wasn't very far down the list before I realised that almost every place that went to to see live music in my reckless and badly dressed youth, was either a pile of rubble, about to become a pile of rubble, in danger of becoming a pile of rubble, or saved from rubble-hood but in no shape for a concert.

It's in the way of things that music venues do change over the years. Nightclubs and bars get knocked down to make way for apartment buildings or office blocks and I don't think I ever envisaged that the slightly dingy bars of my student days would necessarily still be there once I'd moved on to drinking wine that comes in actual bottles and wearing clothes without tears in them.

But of course, in Christchurch we have experienced this at an accelerated rate. Overnight that Queens of the Stone Age gig I had tickets to for 24 February 2011 became a complete impossibility and so did pretty much every other gig in town. New places have popped up, of course. Dux Live, Darkroom, The Brewery. But I while I can still remember them, I thought I might take a headbang down memory lane and jot down what I remember of "gigs of bygone days". I sometimes worry that without the frontages and walls to provide a visual memory aid, that in my new city (whatever that will look like) that my reminiscences will go the way of all brick walls.

Maybe I'm not old enough to be worrying this much about forgetting, but hey, that's no reason not to get a little bit sentimental on it, is it?

The Caledonian Hall (status: goneburger)

Apparently my mum used to go to concerts and "dances" here back in the day. This was where I first saw Faith No More. This resulted in moshpit-related bruising and partial deafness for two days afterwards. It was awesome. Somewhat less awesome was the indignity I suffered at a Supergroove concert there. The hall was emptying out and I slipped on a wet area of shiny wooden floor. It was only after I'd laughed hysterically and picked myself up again that my friends saw (or rather smelled) the moist area on my shoulder where I'd hit the floor. I had vomit on me. This hastened me to the toilets where I promptly rinsed myself in water as hot as I could tolerate. To this day, it's still one of the grossest things that's ever happened to me at a gig.


The Dux de Luxe (status: building repairable but it isn't being. For the last 2 years. Look, who knows?)

The Dux was to the Christchurch music scene as Rome is to the Catholic church. Pumpkinhead, Shihad, The Exponents, Salmonella Dub, The Mutton Birds, Fat Freddys Drop, the LEDs - I watched and listened to them all and numerous others over the years. Somewhat entertainingly, my favourite "watching a band at The Dux" story involves a then completely unknown band called The Feelers. Hanging in the audience, I somehow got chatting to James Reid's mum who complained to me about his scruffy dress sense "he buys his clothes from op shops!" and didn't give me enough cash to cover the cost of the pack of cigarettes she wanted me to get for her from the machine around the corner. It was all very awkward.

Baileys bar, Warners Hotel (status: goneburger)

One of my friends was in the band that played regularly on Friday nights, so my flatmate and I would turn up, drink beer, and request songs. They eventually got a regular Saturday night gig as well and I'm not going to say that it is purely down to me and my flattie, but certainly it was understood that bands that cause there to be drunk, buxom girls dancing were good for business.

Ministry (status: gone)

One of my first forays into under-age drinking occurred here when at 19 I managed to talk my way past the person on the door, only to be denied any service at the bar because of my lack of ID. Many, many years later a friend had free tickets to a Goldie gig there which I declined because, I don't know, I was tired or something, only to hear later that another of my friends had, during the performance, reached over onto Goldies decks and told him to his face he was s***. Legendary.

The Civic (status: gone)

Not strictly a gig, but a memorable occasion nonetheless, this was the site of my first ever Christchurch City Council Christmas party. Guys, you haven't lived until you've seen a drunken parks worker in khaki shorts dancing to eighties tunes at 6pm (the partly usually started at 4pm). It's just so weird. Nor the panic that sets in amongst office workers when rumours of the tab running out start to circulate. Panic drinking ensues. This is like panic buying generally but much,  MUCH worse.

One of my favourite gigs ever was at The Civic - The D4 with Deja Voodoo playing support. The best concert I thought about not going to on a Thursday night but was really happy that I did.

The Town Hall (status: who the hell knows?)

I watched everyone from The Vienna Boy's Choir to Fat Freddys Drop at the Town Hall. I even performed there once or twice in my school choir (I can still belt out a jaunty version of "My Grandfather's Clock" if anyone is interested). Most memorable gig at this venue would probably have to be The Smashing Pumpkins. In a space between songs my sister said she felt hot (we were squeezed in up the front) and wanted to get out for some fresh air. I had just made to wiggle our way out of the crush and away from the stage when I heard Billy Corgan sing "the world is a vampire..." . By the time the bassline hook kicked in there was no hope of escape and we simply went with it.

So those are some of my most compelling memories of gigs gone by, there were others of course (Head Like a Hole at The Bedford, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at Al's Bar).

What venues of gigs (either Christchurch or otherwise) do you have the fondest memories of?

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