The controversial battle for Sydney’s much-loved live music venue, The Sandringham Hotel, is showing no signs of stopping. Last month’s rally was considered a success, in which thousands of music lovers turned up to protest what many see as heavy-handed tactics by The Sando’s bank; who put the company into receivership early this year and are attempting to sell the building in question to the highest bidder.
Tomorrow, Noise 11 reports that former members of AC/DC, The Angels and The Choirboys are rallying together for another musical protest against The Sando’s new owners, Commonwealth Bank, who are forcing the venue out of business by raising the monthly mortgage on the venue from $14,000 to $48,000 a month.
Repeating their feat of playing from the back of a truck at last month’s rally, Doc Neeson former vocalist for The Angels will perform with Mark Evans (of AC/DC), and Mark Gable (Choirboys) outside the Commonwealth Bank’s Headquarters in Sydney’s Martin Place tomorrow.
If the musicians’ joint performance at The Sando rally last August is anything to go by – in which the group led a singalong of Angels classic “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again” chanting for the bankers to “get fucked, fuck off” – it should be another incendiary protest.
Joining the supergroup will be a selection of speakers who will talk about the destruction of The Sando’s business, brought about by the Commonwealth Bank’s actions since purchasing the now defunct Western Australian brand BankWest – who originally showed up at the venue without warning with the news for the venue’s owner, Tony Townsend, to pay the remaining $3.6 million of the loan within a week or else both Townsend’s and The Sando’s assets would be liquidated to pay for the loan.
According to The Sando’s Townsend, the bank’s actions are said to be part of what it called ‘Project Magellan’ – a program set up by BankWest after it was taken over by Commonwealth Bank to reduce their debt risk and move marginal businesses outside their lending guidelines.
Of course BankWest see things somewhat differently. “This customer continued to be in default throughout 2009 and 2010, including non-payment of interest on the debt and also non-payment of Land Tax to the NSW Office of State Revenue,” they told Tone Deaf after last month’s Save The Sando rally.
Things took a very ugly turn last week, when Townsend accused the bank and receivers of personally attacking his family. “My very sick sister ‘Louise’ and her secure dwellings are now under attack. As such her life is now under threat due to these arseholes’ behaviour.”
“This is a despicable act and so damaging to her (both the receiver & bank are aware of her issues), she could in fact end up re-admitted to hospital if they don’t back off,” said Townsend in a statement.
“It’s no joke this is hideous behaviour and spiteful action by Ferrier Hodgson/BankWest which was ultimately under taken to impact on me,” he continued. “This is totally unacceptable. We all need to realise Commonwealth Bank is very, very big, we are so small. Together however (in numbers) we are equally. Stand by us please.”
Tomorrow’s rally will take place outside the Commonwealth Bank’s Headquarters at 3:45pm for a 4pm start, and the event has already been approved for local council and police have been informed that it will be taking place.
The fight to save The Sando has an emotional resonance over the potential loss of another live music venue in Sydney, coming amidst a backdrop of massive changes to the liquor and live music industry in Sydney, since issues surrounding the industry came to a head following the death of teenager Thomas Kelly in a senseless attack in Sydney’s King Cross in July.
The issue of alcohol-related violence has now become a political platform for pokie-lined pub venues and politicians alike, with the New South Wales Premier keen to reintroduce either a 1am or 2am lock out in the CBD.
The move comes amongst other measures to crack down on licensed venues, such as a ban on glass and the sale of RTDs and shots after midnight. Also part of the new restrictions, on Friday and Saturday nights venues will not be able to sell alcohol in the hour before closing.