Fears for live music after closure of Dive

Dunedin band The Beatniks members (from left) Ollie Charlesworth, Logan Edwards, Alex Kendall and...
Dunedin band The Beatniks members (from left) Ollie Charlesworth, Logan Edwards, Alex Kendall and Sam Charlesworth outside the Captain Cook Hotel on Wednesday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
With the loss of another prized music venue, the Dunedin music community fears the city may miss out on touring bands.

Music venue and bar Dive, on the corner of Great King and Albany Sts, shut yesterday after owner Michael McLeod was served with three eviction notices by his landlord.

One notice was for allegations of tampering with a fire alarm along with a bill for a faulty hand railing.

Another was for the name of the company signed on to the lease.

The final notice was for rent being arrears which Mr McLeod said was for the exact amount of a disputed water bill.

"It just seemed like they were coming at it from all angles just to try and get rid of me any way they could," Mr McLeod said.

"After six years, and I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars that I’ve paid them.

"It seemed like that counted for nothing and I was quite disposable."

The closure has hit Dunedin band The Beatniks extra hard, as Dive was set to be the opening venue of their upcoming national tour this summer.

Lead guitarist Logan Edwards said the bar was their second-most played venue behind U-Bar and it was "a really gutting piece of news."

Mr Edwards said he had associated Dive with many acts from outside Dunedin, and it was among the biggest in the city for attracting a lot of touring Australian artists.

Losing even this one bar opened the gates wider for more unmonitored flat parties, which in his experience had "a lot more to go wrong," he said.

Mr McLeod said the model for music venues was broken.

He said venues were reliant on alcohol sales as their sole means of survival.

The building was the former home of the Captain Cook Tavern, which closed a decade ago.

It was then reopened by Mr McLeod as the Captain Cook Hotel, before closing again in 2019 when the lease was taken by New Zealand pizza franchise Sal’s.

The death of Dive, which operated upstairs, would leave a hole that could affect a number of national and international tours to Dunedin, Mr McLeod said.

Save Dunedin Live Music spokesman David Bennet said he was disappointed by the closure.

"Dive was one of the very few venues we had that was a viable touring option for a lot of smaller New Zealand acts and some of the smaller international touring acts," Mr Bennet said.

One of the bar’s key features was that it came equipped with everything required for artists to perform.

He said Dive’s departure from the music scene left smaller venues such as The Crown, which had a capacity of only 100, to fill the void.

"That’s not a viable number for a lot of touring groups to actually bother coming to Dunedin."

Mr Bennet said running a music venue had always been hard.

There was very little money to be made and it was tricky to find the right environment to make it happen.

It only took a few hiccups, such as Dive faced, to put an end to a functioning venue, he said.

While he was saddened by the loss, Mr Bennet said it was an opportunity for the Dunedin City Council to show its support for any newer venues wishing to fill that gap, or for OUSA to reclaim a student hotspot.