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Image for The Annandale vs Brendan Maclean: Will live music survive?

The Annandale vs BrendanMaclean: Will live musicsurvive?

When Sydney musician Brendan Maclean responded to news that The Sandringham Hotel has been placed in receivership with an opinion piece detailing the venue’s failings, he triggered an impassioned reaction from much of the music community. One of the strongest responses came from The Annandale Hotel who wrote an open letter highlighting just how hard it is for places like the Sando to remain viable in the face of “ endless licensing and council issues” and concluding with a call for action from Brendan and his fellow “armchair commentators to come down and enlighten with me your experience and expertise in how to run a live music hotel. “

Not wanting this important discussion to devolve into a bogan vs hipsters slanging match, Brendan and Annandale owner Matt Rule agreed to step out from behind their keyboards and sit down with FL to discuss a problem which is effecting both venues and musicians alike.

Here is what happened.

Brendan’s opinion piece for FasterLouder this week really touched a raw nerve. There’s a lot of passion around venues and live music, and when a venue closes down it’s not often that you hear the other side of the story. Let’s start with Matt, do you think it’s important when a venue closes to dissect what went wrong?

Matt: The reason I wrote what I wrote is that I know how hard it is. We’ve copped it, when we took the “for sale” sign down and we said we’re gonna have a crack at doing ‘buy a brick’. So many people went “oh, it’s old, gets shit bands”, so many people wanted to lay the boot in to us. We couldn’t understand why? People were sort of taking pleasure in seeing our demise.

One of the big problems we had, and we didn’t comment on it, no one actually knows outside what has actually happened in this hotel apart from us. People get on their computers and say we had a shit metal band on, they deserve it, well the reason we have that metal band on, out of the last 12 months, out of the 3 or 4 major booking agents, we have only had a dozen shows. We have had to put on 200 shows or more ourselves. It’s time consuming and hard to find. Splendour in the Grass didn’t give us one side show this year. There are a lot of reasons these venues are closing, and that’s only on the music level. Our music has been good for 10-12 years now. Huge costs brought upon this hotel by outside forces.

It all started off as two blokes wanting to own a pub and put on good live music.We spent a year in mediation court in the first year when they wanted the pub back. We ended up $500,000 worse off than where we wanted to be. The legal bill cost about $250,000. As a small joint who doesn’t support poker machines and with increasing outside costs we literally don’t have a cent to our name.

“We literally don’t have a cent to our name.”

I’ve never met the bloke from the Sando, but I can imagine what he’s going through and I think it’s disgusting to see people complaining about green room or metal bands downstairs.

We’re a long way of being out of trouble, I’m doing all the work around here because we need to save money. If we do fall over, which we are working our best not to do, if people start writing things “oh well, it was shit, I was there on a Wednesday night and there were 4 people, and a crap band playing, why don’t they make it free? why don’t they do more advertising?” My biggest point is that I get sick of people grandstanding and sticking the boot in to some poor bloke. Mate for the bank to walk in to your business, shut you down and kick you out when you have a wife and kids.

Let’s hear from Brendan now, what are you thoughts after hearing all that?

Brendan: I know I’m not a regular face but I have lost count of how many times I have been here to see bands. I had a lot of problems with the Sando.

Matt: You can’t stop Joe Blow from getting on his computer and writing something in a public forum, but for yourself as a musician and an actor, you have that responsibility to go and find out what’s going on before you get out there.

Brendan: For me, it was my experience at the Sando that was shit. Since writing the article, I have received about a 50/50 response. I’ve had people saying they want to throw a brick through my window, but also a lot of musicians writing to me saying they had the same experience there, and I don’t think people have that experience at the Annandale.

Matt: I guarantee you that people will come here and will basically say that Matt Rule is a grumpy bastard.

Brendan: But you put out a positive energy about musicians, that’s the difference. Whereas Tony, yes it’s hard to run a business, but he didn’t do that. He repeatedly put out PR releases that hung shit on musicians and fans. It’s probably also my mistake for booking myself there when I already knew there would be things downstairs. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been booking an acoustic nights on a Wednesday in the middle level. It is a pity there was no money to refurbish it because it looks like a relic.

Matt: Well to tell you the truth, so does this joint.

Brendan: But I don’t think it does, if you look back here [points around], everything that’s been done with it.

Comments

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MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 16th Jul, 2012

Will be interested to see how the Facebook bogans react to this one.

LukeONfire

LukeONfire said on the 16th Jul, 2012

the main point seems to be, people aren't that tough when they aren't behind their keyboards. i say, from behind my keyboard.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 16th Jul, 2012

I think it is about 2 pages too long for most of the facebook bogans to read.

Maybe FL could increase the readership by changing the title to: "Big Day Out at The Annandale vs Brendan Maclean: Will live music survive? \\\\\\\\METAL///////////"

hellboy1975

hellboy1975 said on the 16th Jul, 2012

Thanks for the insightful article! I wish I had more time to support local bands and venues...

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 16th Jul, 2012

i put 'so... did they bang?' on the fb page and i think someone deleted it. not even offensive. people jelly because i get all of the likes.

p1owz0r

p1owz0r said on the 16th Jul, 2012

did anyone tell you if they banged though?

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 16th Jul, 2012

You're such a keyboard warrior, Gregg.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 16th Jul, 2012



i'm like optimus prime. your mate my my day today when he said i said the funniest thing he had ever seen on IG.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 16th Jul, 2012



no. still wondering. just assuming they dutch-ruddered to compromise.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 16th Jul, 2012



I hate that guy, but he was right. It was A+ material.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 16th Jul, 2012

just a preview of all the awesomeness* to come** next week.




*handjobs
**cum

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 16th Jul, 2012

regardless of opinion i'm voting for the guy not wearing the trucker hat and wifebeater.

sarahanne

sarahanne said on the 16th Jul, 2012

Interesting point raised about FBi Social, I've never really thought that the advent of another venue possibly harming the viability of another.

Barman

Barman said on the 16th Jul, 2012

"closure of the sando"? let's not inaccuracy stand in the way of reportage. the place is not closed but telling people it is won't help it survive.

Dexter Ramone

Dexter Ramone said on the 16th Jul, 2012

Matt is right about there being a radio issue with not enough aus talent getting played. Its entirely not jjj and FBI fault, but the wider stations. There's simply not enough avenues for bands to break to a wide audience, instead overseas popstars or singing comp winners clogging up the space. How can the Annandale or sando fill the venues each day when the pool of talent is so underappreciated?
The FBI social issue is a real one too. I do love that room, real pity it's in the cross, and the other levels of the hotel are ghastly.

kaydee

kaydee said on the 16th Jul, 2012

I feel bad after reading this. I've been one of those 'the 'Dale never books any good bands anymore' people, I didn't really get that for the bigger bands it's the promoter's call.

I remember when fBi Social first launched there was some talk that it might impact on some other venues & fBi said that they wouldn't be doing it if they thought that was going to be the case. Appears they were wrong.

I need to make more of an effort to get to the Annandale. Even just to see some no-name band and have a few beers. Where is that unlimited pool of time & money?

kaydee

kaydee said on the 16th Jul, 2012



I had to google what this was.

My innocence is gone.

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 16th Jul, 2012

I had to google what this was.

My innocence is gone.

Same here. But I don't understand why it has to be two men. Unless it was a double dutch ruddering.

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 16th Jul, 2012



Which leads to the bigger debate - if we make the (I think reasonably safe) assumption that the top rating radio stations spend a majority of their airtime on overseas pop stars and singing comp winners, the kinds that don't do local pub shows and tours, because that is the kind of music that is popular and charts well, then the question is:

Do those radio stations play that kind of music because it's popular, or do they make it popular by playing it?

In my angrier youth, I used to think the second one - mainstream radio audiences were just sheep, listening to whatever the corporate lackeys told them was cool, and if everyone could just get exposed to some local "indie" bands they'd realise the error of their ways and suddenly all would be right with the world.

But as I've got older, I've decided/realised that people are going to like what they're going to like, and thinking that everyone is just sheep is incredibly insulting and diminutive.

Which is not to say there aren't some people out there who like stuff just because it's on their radio station, or their friends like it, but to assume it accounts for the majority of the audience is ridiculous.

crob

crob said on the 17th Jul, 2012

I would think The Standard effected The Annandale more then FBI social did.... FBI Social felt like it picked up a lot of the slack left over from the hopetown & Excelisior

Dexter Ramone

Dexter Ramone said on the 17th Jul, 2012

I think you're right crob. And I can't afford to drink at the standard

batdan

batdan said on the 18th Jul, 2012

Great article. I was considering buying a brick even though I have never been to the Annadale, just to support local venues and scene. has anyone here bought one?

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 18th Jul, 2012

I had to google what this was.

My innocence is gone.




you guys don't watch enough movies about making porn.

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 18th Jul, 2012

Remember that time oldgregg and Jose said they were going to have a dutchie in the back of oldgregg's car?

They meant rudder, not oven.

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 18th Jul, 2012



I signed up just recently and I've never been there (i'm in Melbs).
When my brick gets 'plaqued', it would be awesome if a local could grab me a pic. That would be sick.
I signed for the same reasons as you've stated and my love of:
http://www.frieze.com/uploads/images/front/buildings.jpg

crob

crob said on the 18th Jul, 2012

let me know when its up and i'll grab you a photo, Its around the corner from me...

Stugalug

Stugalug said on the 18th Jul, 2012



Cheers Crob, that's mighty fine of you.

MandarinSoy

MandarinSoy said on the 26th Jul, 2012

its a terrible situation, and abit disappointing fbi didn't stick by the annandale when deciding where fbi social was gonna end up. but you go where the money is.. so no one can really blame em. festivals do need to look at an agreement that gives these places at least one side show acts, and not simply getting in bed with the metro, horden, enmore every time.. there almost needs to be a live music board set up somehow that can cater for musicans and venues a like.. venues pay a flat membership. and maybe "bid" for festival side show acts. with a limit on how many bands a venue can win per week/month etc. the winning venue pays what ever % agreed that can be reasonably expected with out working a loss. if they dont agree the comission some how has the final say..then record labels can join to. side show gigs, get local artists to open who are on the same record label.. etc

MandarinSoy

MandarinSoy said on the 26th Jul, 2012

its a terrible situation, and abit disappointing fbi didn't stick by the annandale when deciding where fbi social was gonna end up. but you go where the money is.. so no one can really blame em. festivals do need to look at an agreement that gives these places at least one side show acts, and not simply getting in bed with the metro, horden, enmore every time.. there almost needs to be a live music board set up somehow that can cater for musicans and venues a like.. venues pay a flat membership. and maybe "bid" for festival side show acts. with a limit on how many bands a venue can win per week/month etc. the winning venue pays what ever % agreed that can be reasonably expected with out working a loss. if they dont agree the comission some how has the final say..then record labels can join to. side show gigs, get local artists to open who are on the same record label.. etc

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 26th Jul, 2012

Your suggestions don't resemble reality in any way, shape or form.

grattan

grattan said on the 10th Aug, 2012

For what (little) it's worth - the Save the Sando petition:

"I support live music and do not wish to see another live music venue be taken away from Sydney or Australia. I support the Sandringham Hotel in its efforts to keep live music in Newtown and Sydney. The survival of the 'Sando' as a music venue in Sydney is crucial as it provides a performance space for over 120 bands a month, (over 400 musicians per month). It is an important iconic venue that has historical significance with regards to the Sydney music scene... it must continue to host live music.... it must survive....”

“Save Our Sando - Save Our Scene"

For too long we have watched as our beloved live music venues have disappeared. Land value in the inner city and $/sq m yield have dictated the “Best Use” of properties.

These are the type of guidelines that banks and financial institutions use in their loan valuations, and LVR calculations to businesses. If these ratios change then their willingness to continue funding may wane. In fact loans may be called in with very short notice…..

The bank (BankWest) has claimed the Sandringham Hotel despite its family owner’s efforts to refinance (after being given short notice in 2011) and the fact that all other suppliers are willing to keep on trading terms… The likely result will be a quick “Fire Sale” to a property developer for budget Accom/Retail… The site should realize “much more” in this format… or to a chain operator where the hotel will be revamped and formatted to fit the standard hotel model of Gaming…

What about the community and music significance of the Sando and the fact that 120 bands (450 musicians) perform in the hotel each month. The Sando has played host to the arts, theatre and music since its birth in the 1860’s. The hotel was also acknowledged in 2012 as the oldest business in Marrickville City Council…. In fact it was established before Marrickville City Council was formed….

PLEASE SHOW US YOUR SUPPORT AND SIGN OUR PETITION

gumbuoy

gumbuoy said on the 10th Aug, 2012

Yeah I don't think banks pay that much attention to online petitions. Show them the money. Someone launch a Kickstarter, let's see if this community that's apparently built around the Sando will put its money where its mouth is.