The Penthouse

Also known as: Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, Level 5

Location: 135 Cashel Street, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commerical buildings

Active as a live music venue: 2005 – 2011

Capacity: 250

All-Ages: Yes

The Penthouse (sometimes just referred to as ‘Level 5’) was a venue name given to the 5th floor of Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti School in Central Christchurch, above the old Hallensteins building in Cashel Plaza.

The school was originally used as a venue for All-Age shows promoted by Unlimited Paenga student Jeremy Barribeau, and was quickly established as a suitable spot for shows for AA community group Red Panda, plus several others associated the school such as Will EdmondsOut of Kilter and a series of Raves organized by teacher and DJ Brent Silby.

We started with a couple gigs called Citizen Jam. The Glasson family owned it and leased it to the school – so getting permission for an alternate usage was not the easiest. Lots of planning with the fire department and security/risk analysis plans – Rose Jenson Banner helped a lot with that stuff.

– Jeremy Barribeau

Funding initially came from the city counsel and school board in the form of seed capital to start a radio station (Metropolis Radio) with the intent of fostering a local all ages community. (Early headliner) The Shocking Pinks charged what we all thought at the time was an exorbitant NZ$1000 to play haha!

– Jeremy Barribeau

The Shocking Pinks at the 1st Citizen Jam show, June 2005

 I organized several alcohol-free raves up there under the Audiodreams brand. We called the venue “Level 5” for our raves.

Audiodreams was a company started by myself with some students. White Elephant helped with supervision and marketing of the raves.

– Brent Silby

Every show had a strictly no-alcohol policy and security was provided at the ground floor.

The floor was a large, open plan space, and Red Panda shows utilized a decent PA (provided by the White Elephant parent group), plus the schools facilities such as a film projection screen.

Red Panda had connections to A Low Hum and as such a handful of A Low Hum’s touring parties put on AA shows at the venue – the highlights including So So Modern‘s show in September 2006 with Australian act Alps, popular Christchurch electro-pop duo Frase+Bri and youthful indie-pop trio Black Market Art.

Another fun event put on by the group was the Red Panda Prom, held at the Penthouse in both 2008 and 2009. I had the pleasure of playing in a couple bands (including a ‘super-group’ made up just for the event) and dressing up for the occasion.

Last AA show we did was the weekend before the quakes with Parking Lot Experiments in the basement of Unlimited (under the Crossing). I remember it vividly – was 48 hours before the Feb shake. Last normal weekend in old Chch. It was a WE show I think as RP was officially wound up into WE and I was working at WE. A local AA band supported (Die Robotor).

– Netta Egoz (Red Panda / White Elephant)

The venue was in heavy use right up until the 2011 Earthquake – in fact AudioDreams had a rave planned for March 2011 that was cancelled due to the February Quakes:

Poster for Earthquake-cancelled rave

However the Earthquakes unfortunately brought a particularly active period in Christchurch All-Age shows to a close, with the Hallensteins building eventually demolished and the school moved.

History

  • 2005: Students from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti move into the Northern Tower – i.e. the Hallensteins building, after 2 years in the smaller Southern Star Building. In June the first Citizen Jam gig is held.
  • 2010: Building is damaged in September earthquakes, however it remains open until February 2011 Earthquakes.
  • 2011: US group Parking Lot Experiments are the last headline act to play with a show in the basement, an AudioDreams rave planned for March is cancelled after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2011 close the venue for good.

Links

Autozamm

[flickr-photo:id=223497299,size=t] wellington based rock four-piece formed in 2002 by ex-canvas guitarist/vocalist michael carpinter, craig mason and ben litchfield, with nick major joining in time for the release of the 2004 debut, the ep shade of brown. basically a power-pop garage-rock band in the traditional sense, and not a million miles from carpinters’ former band.