Sydney’s hip district of Newtown will be home to a brand new live music venue from midday this Friday.
A third baby for the team that run Melbourne’s esteemed Corner Hotel and Northcote Social Club, the Newtown Social Club aims to replicate “the same atmosphere that’s known and loved at our Melbourne venues,” according to the live music venue’s official Facebook page.
The Sydney NSC is found on King St, at the former site of the beloved ‘Sando’, a.k.a the Sandringham Hotel, that after drowning in debts of over $3.6 million, the 100+ year old hotel was forced to close its doors in July last year when it went into receivership amidst a storm of controversy.
The new owners have been busy renovating the old building since October to affirm its status as a respectable live music venue, explaining on their website:
We want seeing local, national and international touring acts to be a great experience for all involved: punters, artists, merch person, even the roadies, so we are taking the time to rebuild the band room to achieve the best possible use of the space. Unfortunately this takes time and is a little while away from being ready, but please be patient.”
One of the key points of the renovation was tearing out the old poker machines, stating on their website, “the venue is proudly pokies free.” Posting a photo of the machines’ removal on Facebook, when one user speculated that this may “hurt the bottom line,” they retorted, “We’ve survived without pokies in our Melbourne venues (The Corner Hotel and Northcote Social Club) for a long time, Jacob. We’re pretty confident we can do the same in Sydney.”
Giving the people what they want seems to be part of their philosophy, as the caption to a photo of the old TV screens being removed reads: “This one is for those of you who asked for the TVs to be taken down.”
However, this modification doesn’t mean that the venue will be completely screen-free. Staying true to its Melbourne roots, they also said the Sydney NSC will screen “every AFL game we can.” (Adding, “Go Saints.”)
Even though live music will be the primary focus, the upstairs band room is still undergoing final touches and a date is yet to be set for its official opening. Nevertheless, the downstairs bar will be open for business when the clock strikes 12 midday on Friday. “We want seeing local, national and international touring acts to be a great experience for all involved.” – Newtown Social Club
Even though its closure was the source of much disappointment from music fans, at least the Sydney NSC will ensure that the old Sando site will still be home to live music.
After all, Morgan Kelly, a representative of Ferrier Hodgson who handled the Sando’s receivership, stated that the venue would continue to trade on “an as-usual basis,” maintaining its role as one of Sydney’s key music venues for the foreseeable future.
The Sando’s finances crumbled amidst a controversial closure mid-last year involving shady bank dealings, a terrible war of words, and several rallies. The site was then later sold to the Newtown Social Club owners, a move that was apparently made by the banks without the approval or consent of Tony Townsend, the former owner of The Sando.
The Sando was just one of many Sydney venues that has shuttered in recent times, with the same misfortune striking down the Annandale Hotel in February, despite numerous attempts to stay afloat.
Most notably was perhaps The Annandale’s “buy-a-brick” scheme that began in late 2011, asking music fans to donate between $20 and $250 to buy a brick bearing a plaque featuring their name. Aimed to revitalise the venue, they raised $50,000 yet still had to say goodbye in February 2012, still financially bleeding from a nasty eight year long legal battle with Leichhardt Municipal Council over late-night trading and noise complaints.
The Annandale’s ‘buy-a-brick’ model has currently been taken on by St. Kilda’s Pure Pop Records amid noise complaints that have forced them to renovate their back courtyard.
This case aside, it is Sydney’s – not Melbourne’s – live music venues that have really experienced numerous struggles in the last twelve months. The closure of the Annandale triggered support from Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne to fight for the support of live music, including getting council approval for a new ‘live music precinct’ to run through Sydney’s Parramatta Road.
The development of said live entertainment precinct stretching between Taverner’s Hill and Sydney University has already been approved by local council in Leichhardt. Mayor Byrne calls the proposed music mecca “a vision for Parramatta Road which will see it become for Sydney what Broadway and Tin Pan Alley have been to New York.”
This is in addition to the City of Sydney council, led by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, recently revealing their proposed Cultural Policy, which aims to invest money in music education and in re-inventing the city’s live music scene.
The Sydney Newtown Social Club are having an exclusive launch party this Thursday night, and offering the chance to win a double pass to event through their official Facebook page.