Dunedin musicians (fromleft) Tom Bell, Jake Langley and
Mike McLeod have taken over Chick's Hotel in Port Chalmers.
Sometimes it's the size of a venue that enhances the
magic of a live show. And sometimes, it's the heritage and
history of the venue.
While Dunedin can't claim an historic 100 Club such as the
one in Oxford, and the stadium certainly pales in comparison
to the behemoth of Wembley, this city is home to a venue with
a charm and a history all its own - Chick's Hotel in Port
Founded in 1886, the hotel has steadily gained a certain
cultural currency in music circles since 2009 as a haven for
the boutique, the esoteric, and alternative as performers
such as Die! Die! Die! list the venue as among their
Now, three Dunedin musicians - Mike McLeod, Tom Bell, and
Jake Langley of The Shifting Sands - are taking over the
infamous location and ushering in the new era of Chick's
"I talked to Hector, who has been running Chick's for the
last five years, a few months back," new manager and Shifting
Sands guitarist/songwriter McLeod tells me over a sun-soaked
lunch in Maori Hill.
"He was talking about moving into town and starting a venue
in town, which I think is still on his agenda, and offered to
sell me the business.
"Tom Bell [Shifting Sands, The Heavy Eights] and I have been
talking for quite a few years now about trying to run a
venue. We've played around the country, I opened Circadian
Rhythm in 2005, and Tom worked in the early days setting up
ARC Cafe in its heyday.
"We've all been a bit frustrated in a way, playing in Dunedin
and just really wanting a venue to be run and managed in the
way that it could be, and the way we've seen other venues
work around the country.
"Chick's is such a cool old building and it's got a lot of
history. Hector's done a good job at starting what we can
kind of work with; the name is certainly out there."
The first item on the agenda for McLeod and Co was an
aesthetic overhaul of a venue once loved for its shabby charm
and infamous for its terrifying bathrooms.
"The first thing we did is rebuild the stage," McLeod says.
"We've also removed the false ceiling in the venue above the
stage. We've hung fairy lights, and scaffolding pipe to
attach proper lights.
"We've also finally got a proper PA and given the whole place
a massive clean."
A regular return bus service from Dunedin, recording studio,
quiz and table tennis nights, and concert screenings of
footage recorded by Bob Sutton during Flying Nun's heyday in
the '80s will also be added by the new management.
With reports from early shows overwhelmingly positive, here's
hoping the future is bright for Chick's Hotel.
Upcoming shows at Chick's Hotel, 2 Mount St, Port
• Tonight: Snapper and guests, 9pm, $10
• Friday, November 23: Bill Morris and the Mark
IVs, Swampy, D and 5 Pint, and Hana Fahy, 9pm, $10
• Saturday, November 24: The Prophet Hens and
Guests, 9pm, $10
Follow Chick's Hotel online at www.chickshotel.co.nz/ or