Saving our living rooms

Koizilla plays Dunedin venue the Crown in 2018, one of the small local spaces vital to the music...
Koizilla plays Dunedin venue the Crown in 2018, one of the small local spaces vital to the music scene. PHOTO: FRASER THOMPSON
Of the venues in Dunedin, the one I love the most is the Crown Hotel, writes Fraser Thompson.

It’s musical prestige is immense, hosting many of the early Dunedin Sound bands. But it doesn’t bask in that history for too long, and it has continued to host everything from student bands playing their first gig to harsh noise to war metal.

As Francisca Griffin puts it: “Name anybody, they’ve probably played there” ... Including herself, both as part of Look Blue, Go Purple in the ’80s and more recently with her new band. Hell, even I played there once somehow.

So it’s great to see it - along with Inch Bar - as the two latest additions to the Save Our Venues fundraising campaign. Francisca’s driving the campaign for the Crown Hotel on behalf of it’s proprietor, Jones.

"I thought a couple of weeks ago that it would be a really good idea to set up something for Jones.

"I know, and we all know, that every small venue is pretty much in trouble as are of course lots of larger venues, but the smaller venues are the grassroots of us all. And I knew that Jones would just battle on and try to keep things going."

Anyone who visits The Crown will know that "Jonesy" does an incredible job serving lightning-fast pints, maintaining appropriate levels of rowdiness, and keeping the performers happy with a post-gig tray of hot savouries. Behind a healthy local music scene isn’t just musicians, it’s people like him, and the small venues they run.

"I think they’re essential to local music, using that word grassroots means everyone in the band gets involved in everything.

"You do your own marketing, you do your own door stuff, you have to do all of that, you have to be in there at the grassroots and doing all the stuff.

"And also both Inch Bar and The Crown are like playing in someone's living room."

As an audience member that’s what I love most about small venues. The veil between the audience and the performer is much thinner, it feels like a much more raw and honest way to experience live music.

With the move into Level 2, venues are able to open again, and both Inch Bar and the Crown Hotel are open already. But things aren’t back to normal yet and probably won’t be for some time. Unfortunately, viruses love gigs just as much as we do, if not more, so physical distancing must be observed. This means maybe about 40 people max at The Crown, and at Inch Bar potentially even fewer. Which is why it’s still really important to figure out a way to help our local venues survive.

Thankfully, live music fans are keen to help. The Save Our Venues campaign for Whammy Bar and Wine Cellar up in Auckland smashed through it’s $100,000 target and ended at just over $200,000 raised from 1677 donors. Darkroom up in Christchurch has hit 164% of it’s target and still isn’t done.

“You know every bit counts and it’s fantastic that this has been set up, and it’s really good for both venues that we have so many passionate people out there that are going to give, you know, $20 ... The average donation on the website is $75-ish dollars.”

To chip in

You can contribute at boosted.org.nz/projects/we-love-the-crown-and-inch-bar

 

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'Living room. It's a Living room'.

~ Bruce Dern, 'The Trip', 1967.

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