It is nearly two months since it was announced that a restaurant group had bought the iconic Prince Of Wales complex in St Kilda, Melbourne. The complex is home to the Prince Bandroom that has played host over the years to acts as varied as Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, Smashing Pumpkins, as well as a whole swag of local artists.
At the time the new owners indicated they would be keeping live music for the time being but that it was not central to their strategy for the redevelopment of the complex. The new owners, Melbourne Pub Group, only took over a few days ago but already ominous signs can be seen for the bandroom.
Perhaps most telling was an email sent out by Steve Kingi, the booker of the bandroom, who today announced he is vacating his spot as booker effective immediately.
“The time has come for me to fly the coop at the Prince Bandroom, my home for the last seven years.” he wrote. “The Prince has blessed me with experiences that a music fan can only dream of, and also given me the sort of life education money can’t buy. I would like to thank everyone involved in and around the Bandroom who have helped bring some phenomenal shows to St Kilda.”
He continued “I would especially like to thank Dror Erez and John van Handel for allowing me to play a role in Australian music history and the iconic Prince Bandroom.”
The sudden nature of the announcement does ring a few alarm bells, and a replacement for Kingi was not named. In an interview with The Age back in October new owner Julian Gerner said “If we do decide to touch it [the bandroom] down the track then I’ll make sure I communicate that when it happens. We’re not entertainment operators … our focus is on food. We believe if we do good food, we’ll do good business.”
We’re yet to hear any word from Gerner, although we believe all the shows currently booked will be going ahead. The Prince Bandroom isn’t the only live music venue feeling the heat at the moment. The East Brunswick Club has also had a change of ownership and the new owners have indicated they plan on knocking down the bandroom to make way for apartments.