Exclusive: Melbourne’s Phoenix Rises, Then Falls
News posted Tuesday, May 8 2012 at 04:00 PM.
Related: Phoenix Public House.
After eight months of operation, Melbourne’s Phoenix Public House will shut its doors next month.
Since opening in October, the Sydney Road venue – formerly The Spot – has become one of the area’s most-loved small rooms (300-plus capacity), hosting gigs by the likes of Aleks & The Ramps, Graveyard Train, Dappled Cities, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Dick Diver and a Twerps farewell gig in March that saw queues around the block.
But speaking to M+N today (May 8), venue booker Paris Martine from Contrary said despite the “lovely response” from Melbourne’s music community the venue had faced an uphill struggle for the past few months. A "difficult climate for band bookings" coupled with the breakdown of negotiations with the building's owners over the length of a new lease has forced a premature end. She said the venue’s closure had nothing to do with the lack of clarity surrounding Victorian noise restriction laws; a burning issue which Music Victoria hopes to put to the government at a forthcoming roundtable.
Phoenix was supposed to shut abruptly last Tuesday, but Martine has negotiated a stay of execution until June 12, the night after its last announced gig: Mark Kozelek of US slowcore legends Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. Martine said a closing party would only be considered if a “great line-up presented itself”.
She thanked punters for their support, saying she wanted to focus on the remaining shows including a Lost Animal vinyl launch (May 18), Daniel Merriweather (May 12), New Zealand’s Opossom (May 17) and PVT’s exclusive VIVID sideshow (May 24). As for the possibility of the Phoenix rising once more, Martine said she was still assessing her options.
A initiative of Contrary and Godel Design and Marketing, Phoenix Public House – the original name on the building’s facade – is said to be the only dedicated bandroom on Sydney Road. “You only have to sit on Sydney Road for a bit before you start running into people who have live in the area and are regularly out there supporting original bands,” Martine told M+N at the time of opening. “Giving them somewhere stumbling distance can only be a good thing.”
For details of the venue’s final shows click here.
May 9, 9.30am: Phoenix Public House booker Paris Martine has expanded on the difficulties surrounding lease negotiations in a statement posted to Facebook last night: "Taking on the terms of the lease would have meant making huge sacrifices to the concept and integrity of what we wanted to create in order to make rent... and the length of the lease left no room to implement ideas and continuously improve the business. It would have been a business with no love. Attempts to secure a longer lease were met with conditions that made the business unviable for a live music space."