Note: This is a work in progress and will have additional content added both in the Map (i.e. venue images) or in the body of this post (i.e. a list of the venues in questioned, grouped by status etc).
Feel free to comment, give suggestions etc – this was put together as part of thebigcity’s on-going Venues archive.
Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commercial buildings
Active as a live music venue: 2004 – 2011
Bar Manager: Al Park
Mid-sized venue on the South side of Central Christchurch operated by long-time fixture of the Christchurch music scene – Al Park. Al had been a notable figure in the pub rock and (eventually) punk music that sprung up around the Mollett Street performance space in the late 1970’s, but it took until 2004 before Al had a venue of his own.
Al’s Bar had (at one point) two stages at opposite ends of the venue and a small outside courtyard.
This was a popular venue up until the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 / 2011, with touring bands, popular local acts, and even double-header shows by A Low Hum using the ample space. Legendary US grunge act the Melvins played Al’s on February 21st 2011, the day prior to the fatal earthquake which eventually claimed the venue itself. Trouble seemed to follow the group, as immediately after Christchurch they traveled to Tokyo, just before the Japanese earthquake of 2011 struck.
Along with Al Park, sound-guy Dave Mitchell was usually on-hand, and the bar was known among local performers for being a bit of a struggle when it came to asking entry fees – thanks to a large volume of ‘regulars’ that insisted their connection to Al got them free entry!
The venue had some nice features, with a good not-too-expensive bar, polite bar staff, a decent, high-powered PA system with great monitors and stage sound, and a projection screen above the larger stage, which made for some pretty great photos:
2004: Opened as a live music venue’
2010: Damaged in 2010 Earthquakes, but re-opens soon after’
Justin Townes Earle was scheduled to perform at Al’s Bar on March 24, Michelle Shocked was due to play at The Bedford on April 15 and Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama were scheduled for the Town Hall on April 30.
All of these shows have been cancelled.
A week later, as the enormity of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch has well and truly sunk in, Steve Marshall and his bandmates in Left Or Right are in sombre mood as they reflect on that city’s loss.
“That was absolutely crazy, eh?” Marshall says. “Who would have thought just as you rang that had happened up there?
“I’d forgotten that Logan (Hampton, brother of Left Or Right guitarist Callum Hampton) and (flatmate) Crispy were both up there during it.
“They were just about to load out their lighting rig from Al’s Bar after doing lights for the Melvins show the night before. They never got their gear out but managed to get back to Dunedin that night. They were very spooked and in shock.”
Christchurch Art Gallery – Worcester Boulevard
Was being used as the Earthquake media center. Appears to not be damaged.
Staff from the Centre of Contemporary Art are optimistic about the extent of damage to their collection. Established in 1883 to promote the arts in Christchurch, CoCA has a collection of about 200 works, mostly paintings, dating from the early 20th century to the present. The centre’s 1968 building is intact, but about 25 per cent of works in both the permanent gallery collection and the dealer gallery have fallen off the walls, says business manager Tony Dann.
With Flip Grater, at Al’s Bar [12/01/07] review by Fran, photos by Fraew
The Veils is the brain-child of ex-pat Aucklander Finn Andrews. Andrews left Auckland at around age 16 to pursue a musical career in London, got himself signed to the legendary Rough Trade Label and managed to release a debut album “Runaway Found” with a band which was essentially formed to make his music. After touring the album, Andrews left the others behind and returned to New Zealand hunting out fellow school chums Sophia Burn (bass) and Liam Gerrard (keyboard) asking them to join him as The Veils.
Along with the rest of the band Henning Dietz (drums) and Dan Raishbrook (guitar), the Veils played to a packed out Al’s Bar on Friday night, with local Flip Grater in support. During the opening set from Christchurch singer songwriter Flip Grater you would have been easily mistaken thinking no one was playing from the back of the bar, the big and rather chatty crowd drowned out her lovely voice. However Flip carried on and ended her short set with a louder than usual song which seemed to get some of the crowds attention and ended with a strong applause.
At Al’s that night the crowd was the biggest possibly ever seen for a show at the bar, waiting patiently through the Tom Waits and Edith Piaf music for the band to take the stage. The Veils jumped straight into things with the title track from their latest album Nux Vomica. The Veils pop rock seems to be infused with a bit of country music, but not the bad kind, the kind that makes you want to swing your hips if there was room in a full to capacity bar.
The desire to really dance was best displayed during the fantastically punchy “Jesus for the Jugular” and “Pan”. With the band’s impending performance at the upcoming big day out, it would be interesting to see how the songs translate on a big stadium stage. The atmosphere in the small bar, with everyone crammed in, including the 5 piece band was part of what made the performance great.
The encore song, “more heat than light” off Runaway Found was probably the band’s most obvious big rock number.