Venus Cafe

Location: 76 Lichfield Street, Central Christchurch

Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by bus exchange

Active as a live music venue: 1990’s – 2000’s ?

Bar Manager: –

Capacity: Around 60?

All-Ages: Yes

When Cafe Culture exploded in Christchurch in the mid 1990’s, I was a student at Christchurch Polytechnic, surviving on a $14 a week student allowance (and living at home). Due to my modest means I marveled at how people could spend what seemed like a fortune on fancy new coffee’s and cafe food.

However, Venus Cafe was the kind of place where you’d see students hanging out all day nursing an extra-large hot chocolate – getting their full moneys worth. The place was one of a few in the central city (most notably Java Coffee House) that had a hippie vibe, and was often involved in the promotion and support of local raves and dance parties.

The Cafe itself was up a handful of steps in an old building on Lichfield Street, above the Lick er Lounge (later to become Carbon) and next to the notorious upstairs Danz Nightclub. Long and narrow, and quite dark at the back – more than a few live shows were put on within the Cafe itself (noted on the Barnard’s Star poster below as taking place in ‘The Pluto Room’), though the capacity can’t have been more than 60 or so people – usually sitting on the floor.

The shows I remember attending were:

Barnard’s Star bringing out their debut EP supported by Le Mot Cafe (making their debut) – Helen spent the show sprawled out on the floor playing bass, whilst every Le Mot Cafe song went along the lines of “This song is… how do you say? An instrumental! It has no words…” – funny stuff from a bunch of the Puffins (who were my favorite band at the time).

Poster for Venus Cafe show with Le Mot Cafe, from http://flamingrednz.blogspot.co.nz/

Early shows by The Dialtones – this local group had a whole swag of great songs, but it took the best part of a decade before Fleur De Lis saw fit to record and release them.

Lastly, the mighty rock’n’roll experience that was The Black Panthers – who were obviously far too loud to play in a cafe. Singer and guitarist Matt Alien spent a period of the show jumped up on tables, whilst their bass player Vaughn had his usual cadre of groupies throwing Marmite-stained women’s underpants at him…

First there was The Vic, then there was Caffiends, then there was Java, then there was Venus. Was that a Helm Ruifrok mural? I remember lots of James Robinson’s paintings. I remember hearing Ornette Coleman there, In All Languages for the first time and remembering it from the John Zorn versions on Spy vs Spy. I remember seeing the James Last Appreciation squad blow up Here Comes Jack Thompson’s amps there, before it was even dark outside, before we even to a chance to play. I remember seeing Kaylo walk past in the Winter sun with a freshly shaved head. I remember regrouping there with the Spook billstickers crew. I don’t remember the coffee. I do remember the muffins.

  • Jason Tamihana-Bryce

The Cafe can’t have last too long as there are scant all details at all about it on the web, though I have heard about further shows such as Auckland punk group Sommerset some time in winter 1998, kRkRkRk recordings ‘foremost avant-garde collaborative project’ DiS towards the end of 1999, plus Rhian Sheehan, Jolyon Mullholland, as well as Matt Bullimore and Dave Murphy’s group SeaWorld.

 

History

Contact Details

Links

Sedative

Sedative was an ambitious attemp to form an improvisational project utilising primal-industrial sound textures. Featuring Brendon Mably, Ed Wilson and Nigel Cooper; Sedative only lasted roughly the length of 1997 but managed to leave behind a half hour recording, utilising the unaccustomed luxury of 16-track facilities of Nga Mata Waka sound engineering course that Ed was attending at the time. In true KRKRKRK style, the only mixdown of this studio session sat on a cruddy tape for a couple of years before being revived to the CD-r medium.
– From KRKRKRK‘s Website

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Controlled Release [1997 Krkrkrk Krk098]

See-Also

TMA-1

A highly influential christchurch outfit from 1991 to 1994 and comprised of Krkrkrk Founders Peter Wright, J-Mz Robinson and Richard Calder.

The music was a kind of post-industrial, punk-pop-cabaret thingy with a good dose of self-deprecating humour. TMA-1 released numerous recordings but, at present, there are 3 CD-r’s available on Krkrkrk
Dave Khan

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Kills Mould, Fungi And Lichens Cassette [1992 Krkrkrk Krk000]
  • 5 Cassette [1992 Krkrkrk Krk001]
  • Screech! Cassette [1994 Krkrkrk Krk005]
  • 007 Cassette [1995 Krkrkrk Krk007]
  • Screech! 2nd Edition Cassette [1996 Krkrkrk Krk063]
  • Screech! Cd-R [1997 Reissue Krkrkrk Krk063]
  • 5 Cd-R [2000 Reissue Krkrkrk Krk100]
  • 007 Cd-R [1995 Reissue Krkrkrk Krk107]

See-Also

Peter Wright

Co-founder of the Krkrkrk label (along with David Khan) and a prolific member of a number of Christchurch underground bands dating back to the early 90s, Peter Wright is also an exceedingly prolific solo musician, releasing material under multiple guises on Krkrkrk (Bent Gastropod Omnibus, In Vitro, Coitus) as well as on his own label, Apoplexy. Wright is also one of the creative minds behind the brilliant Krautrock superstars Beautiful Losers.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Wank [As Bent Gastropod Omnibus 1993 Krkrkrk Krk003]
  • Expresso Spasm [As Bent Gastropod Omnibus 1993 Krkrkrk Krk004]
  • Haggis [As Bent Gastropod Omnibus 1994 Krkrkrk Krk010]
  • Dust To Dust [As In Vitro 1995 Krkrkrk Krk043]
  • Drag [As In Vitro 1995 Krkrkrk Krk051]
  • Seep [As In Vitro 1995 Krkrkrk Krk058]
  • 040769 [As Coitus 1996 Krkrkrk Krk060]
  • Man In Blue Box [As Coitus 1996 Krkrkrk Krk064]
  • Man In Glass Cage [As Coitus 1996 Krkrkrk Krk074]
  • Duna Cdr [1997? Last Visible Dog Lvd024]
  • Lp #1 [1998 Apoplexy Apx05]
  • Syncopate Cdr [1998? Apoplexy Apx06]
  • Moments Of Inappropriate Abandon Lathe-Cut Double-7″ [1998? Apoplexy Apx07]
  • Radioplay Cdr [1999? Apoplexy Apx09]
  • Automaton Cdr [1999? Apoplexy Apx10]
  • Confinement And Release Cdr [2000 W/ Dave Khan Apoplexy Apx12]
  • Transfusion Cdr [2000 Last Visible Dog Lvd044]
  • Distant Bombs Cdr [Apoplexy Apx15]
  • Bent Gastropod Omnibus [Compilation Of Bent Gastropod Omnibus Material 2002 Krkrkrk Krk120]
  • In Vitro No. 1 [Compilation Of In Vitro Material 2002 Krkrkrk Krk121]
  • In Vitro No. 2 [Compilation Of In Vitro Material 2002 Krkrkrk Krk122]
  • Coitus [Compilation Of Coitus Material 2002 Krkrkrk Krk123]
  • A Tiny Camp In The Wilderness [Celebrate Psi Phenomenon]
  • Catch A Spear As It Flies Cd-R [2003? Celebrate Psi Phenomenon]
  • The Broken Kawai Cd-R [2003? Pseudoarcana Pa017]
  • Desolation Beauty Violence Cd-R [2004 Foxglove Foxglove026]
  • Yellow Horizon [2005 Pseudoarcana]

See-Also

Wormwood

Over the years, Mikel Goodwin’s wormwood solo project has shown him to be one of KRKRKRK’s most versatile and ingenious recording artists. Mikel’s enviable talent with soldering irons and screwdrivers – and his technical flair for the construction of diabolical, electro-mechanical devices has only enhanced the label’s reputation for loud and reckless experimentation.

Taking cues from the 1980’s industrial/ambient and goth-rock movements, there is noise and darkness in Mikel’s music – but these elements have always been complemented by a twisted pop sensibility and an attitude of playful malevolence.
– KRKRKRK Website

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Deformity For Flying Vile Things [2000 Krkrkrk Krk085]
  • Inside Doubt [2001 Krkrkrk Krk117]

See-Also

Thee Strapons

2 piece scuzzo-rock’n’roll with weird elements and a thoroughly lo-fi leaning from christchurch fixtures (and heads of the Solarphonic label) Bev Greene and Done Campbell – now residing in Wellinton.

This long-lived, stylistically versatile group, began producing music in Dunedin in 1988! Transferring operations to Christchurch in 1993, Thee Strapons temporarily exchanged the William Burroughs-meets-Throbbing Gristle industrial rock, of their Dunedin phase, in favour of no-nonsense punk rock and r’n’b. However, beyond this popular, public persona, the 1996-2001 period also saw much experimentation with psychedelic lounge music and electro-industrial cabaret
Krkrkrk

With the key duo of Thee Strapons relocating to Wellington to raise their child, the Hi-Tone Destroyers‘ Matt Alien moving north to try his hand at greater success, and the Incisions imploding in the early 2000s, the Christchurch underground rock’n’roll outfit was dealt quite a blow.

Mid-fi punk-industrial stuff, some garage moments, often experimental – lots of William S. Burroughs/Psychic TV tape loop fuckery etc… don and i remixed and remastered these to DAT from the original 4-track tapes mid 2000.
Dave Khan on the 2 Early Fears compilations

After a lengthy absence, Thee Strapons finally resurfaced in Wellington in 2004, appearing on the rather mixed Stop The Bypass compilation. Hopefully more is on the way.

A wonderful collection of lounge-rock numbers and synth-pieces recorded 1996-99. longer, more keyboard-driven compositions. lots of local musos are on this recording inc. Joanne and Sharon Billesdon, George Churton (Gene-Pool Belmondo of Gas etc), Chris Rigby and even moi. Bits from Come Back To My Place And Lost Found Sound were originally released on Krkrkrk in early 1997 on the tapes Beyond The Valley Of The Strap Ons &and Fingerless Love

Dave Khan on The Lost Found Sound

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Ouch Lucky Fight Lathe-Cut 7″ Ep [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Predator Sway’/’Strap-Ons Are Go’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Get Outta Town’/’Grind Las Vegas’/’Diabolique’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Taboo’/’Hey’/’Everybody’S Wiser Now’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic]
  • ‘Daughter Of Horror, Uptight Surfite’/’Tokyo Striptease, Are You Gonna Be There’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic 001]
  • Dance All Night With Thee Strap Ons: ‘Race With The Devil’/’You’Re Gonna Miss Me’/’Pedophile’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic 011]
  • ‘For What Its Worth’/’Psycho’/’Big In Japan’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [Solarphonic Sop10]
  • Beyond The Valley Of The Strap Ons Cassette [1997 Krkrkrk Krk069]
  • Fingerless Love Cassette [1997 Krkrkrk Krk079]
  • Come Back To My Place… [1997 Krkrkrk Krk105]
  • Pretty Ugly Things [1998 Solarphonic]
  • No Time To Be A Work Of Art [1999 Solarphonic]
  • Lost Found Sound [1999 Krkrkrk Krk106]
  • Early Fears 1 [2000 Krkrkrk Krk102]
  • Early Fears 2 [2000 Krkrkrk Krk103]
  • Eat The Mess Age [2000 Krkrkrk Krk108]
  • Bottle [2001 Krkrkrk Krk115]
  • Hellbox [2001 Krkrkrk Krk116]

See-Also

Mig-21

Another in the long line of Dave Khan’s many bands, Mig-21 are his current 4-piece featuring Mikel Goodwin, Ed Wilson and J-Mz Robinson – all of whom have featured in previous KRKRKRK projects, such as Leonard Nimoy and Bocctahne.

Very much a pop-rock project with some industrial noise and avant-rock underpinnings, Mig-21 combine smooth, melodic bass playing & electronic rythms (utilising custom-made sampled sounds) with harsh, biting, free-form guitar work & multi-layered vocals riding upon a wave of distortion and delay.
Although not as deadly serious as some earlier KRKRKRK projects, there are punk-rock, political overtones in the group’s music – suitably corrupted by a generation x nihilism and disenchantment.
From KRKRKRK‘s website

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

NoTV

The solo project of krkrkrk contributor (and member of TMA-1) J-MZ (aka James) Robinson, putting together influences from early 80’s punk/new wave and electro-industrial music.

Robinson’s live performance includes a mix of electronics, keyboards, tape manipulation and textured guitar – a grab-bag of sounds that created quite a heady, disorientating mix.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • fears [1994 krkrkrkKRK006]
  • amitriptyline [1995 krkrkrkKRK022]
  • retrovision [compilation of fears and amitrptyline 1999 krkrkrkKRK097]
  • popster [2001 krkrkrkKRK119]
  • file under techno [2003 krkrkrk KRK128]

See-Also

BandCamp: a million lights

BandCamp: a million lightsFinally uploaded my own album (entitled ‘album’) which I recorded in 2005 as ‘a million lights’, now available for streaming / download here.

These recordings are from 2004-5 and followed a lathe-cut 8″ EP (limited to 20 copies!) and a live recording from Southern Oscillations which krkrkrk released, and will be available soon too.