Letter To The Universe About Closing Down Indie Venues

Universe, we need to talk.

I’m a very particular type of person with very particular tastes. I like white space, retro bikes, and Instagram. If I were a man, I’d grow an ironic moustache and wear Hawaiian shirts, and yes, those shirts would be buttoned all the way up to the top. When I’ve refused your invitations to drink until I bring dishonor on my family in the past, it’s because I’m really busy looking at videos of costumed sloths on the Internet and watching snippets from Arrested Development on Youtube.

It’s not that I don’t like alcohol; alcohol and I are BFF’s, fo’ real. (Except for all those times when I woke up shrouded by the scent of cigarette smoke, tequila and regret next to an empty McDonald’s fries box…)

I just want a Saturday night sanctuary where they don’t play remixed Katy Perry songs. I really enjoy walking into clubs that I know will be devoid of anyone wearing Unit, Monster, or Crusty Demons merchandise. I really would. And I don’t think you understand how difficult that can be in Brisbane.

So Universe, why are you taking Woodland Bar away from me? Oh, sure, Woodland will still be there. But why – why, Universe – when the change in management will see it become something completely different? Every time I walk by you’ll be taunting me with memories of good times long gone, like a middle aged woman looking at photos of herself when she was twenty kilograms lighter and didn’t have any grey hairs

Across Australia, the indie-sphere is taking blow after blow as cruel twists of fate lead to the shutdown of one decent indie-centric venue after another, including (and this is just to name a few; there are spates more where this came from): The Troubadour here in Brisbane, Miss Libertine in Melbourne (the former home of CANT SAY) and The Gaelic in Sydney, former Purple Sneakers/Last Night HQ.

What the devil is going on? It can’t be that people don’t love live music anymore, can it? I wanted to get to the bottom of this, Universe, so I did some Googling. Turns out, it’s not.

There’s a lot of speculation that it may be over-regulation on live music venues that’s driving them underground, hiking up running costs and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. This over-regulation stems from tenuous links between live music and violence, and those links were made by political types. Turns out, not all politicians are as cool as Peter Garrett.

Sure, it’s easy to say the buck stops there, Universe. I almost did. But then I got to thinking, and you know what I thought? I thought:

“The reality is that if people were actually attending gigs instead of just saying they were on Facebook, the running costs wouldn’t really be the issue.”

Yes, Universe, the legislation in place is shit. It could probs-maybs-defs do with a good review. You know what, though? When I got to thinking about it, Universe, I realized that I haven’t actually been to Woodland in a quite decent chunk of time. I’m shame-faced to admit that I’ve RSVP’d “Attending” to a lot of gigs and then forgotten about them, or made alternate plans, or stayed home to watch Shrek on a whim. And I can’t be the only one who’s been saying “yes I’ll go” and then never showing up.

Maybe venues like Woodland and Miss Libertine have to close so that people like me will come to understand that marching in SLAM to support smaller scale live music venues (and then subsequently not going to gigs at the very venues we’re “fighting so hard for”) won’t actually save our venues.

In fact, it’ll probably do about as much to keep our beloved venues open as sharing a video on Facebook will do to stop a Ugandan war criminal.

So you know what, Universe. I’d like to call a truce. I’ll go to more gigs at smaller live venues. Like, actually go. I’ll do my part for smaller venues. Lesson: learnt.

But don’t fuck with me again, Universe, you big cosmic bitch.

Words by Cheryl Billman.


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