Darkroom

NOTE: This post probably contains quite a few errors and an inaccurate timeline – there is very little info online about old Christchurch venues, so I welcome all corrections and additions!

Also known as: Part of ‘The Archive’, along with Galaxy Records and Next Gallery

Location: 336 St Asaph St, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Running!

Active as a live music venue: 2011 –

Bar Manager: Marcus Winstanley

Bookings: info@darkroom.bar

Website: http://darkroom.bar

Capacity: 100

After the devastating Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 closed (or even destroyed) virtually all of Christchurch’s live venues, entrepreneur Jasper Bryant-Greene and local musician T’Nealle Worsley (Bang! Bang! Eche!) saw a vacant hole in the local live music scene.

With virtually no previous building experience, the duo started the conversion of an old clothing manufacturing warehouse on St Asaph street, stripping the site back to the bare wood before installing a full bar, stage, upstairs accommodation, toilets…

Charlie Ryder of Bang! Bang! Eche! at The Archive’s opening party

Initially an all-ages house-party was held in May 2011, christening the building as ‘The Archive’ with performances from Valdera, The Transistors and Bang! Bang! Eche! – an absolutely stonking welcome back to live music in the garden city.

Once the full renovations were completed the bar itself was christened ‘Darkroom’ – Bryant-Greene developed the in-house ordering / payment himself and Worsley brought substantial inside knowledge and previous experience (despite her young age) to booking excellent live acts and running the bar.

The duo put substantial care in developing strong craft alcohol selections and creating a relaxed environment with comfortable refurbished furniture – even the outside (but enclosed) drive-way was utilized as a smokers area.

Log Horn Breed at Darkroom

Darkroom lives up to its name – the venue is VERY dark, particularly around the stage itself. They have a great PA system with strong foldback wedges and a powerful PA that is more than a match for the size of the room (which itself is quite small).

The mixing desk sits opposite the stage and is sheltered from other noise in the venue, making for nice and clear band/desk communication. A 2nd floor space beside the desk has been used in the past for a 2nd stage, allowing for long band line-ups with quick change-overs.

Hannah Harding aka Aldous Harding, at Darkroom in October 2011.

Darkroom was immediately successful. An early show by Bachelorette had people queuing out the door, and as one of the few available performance spaces in Christchurch they had their pick of live acts. Though as is the case with most venues – even some future super-stars found it tough to draw large crowds at times:

I used to play there with Aldous Harding every 3rd Wednesday to approx 5 – 10 people, for free.
– Simon Gregory

Marlon Williams did a short residency, playing to similar crowds, sometimes only to the staff. And The Unfaithful Ways. And All Seeing Hand, plus many, many more.

– John Bell

Galaxy Records moved in to an available space in the Archive, and for a period RDU ran a remote studio from the site, too. The last space in the building was refurbished and turned in to an art gallery, originally called Room 4 – however after this closed an additional stage was built and this back room space became available for paid gigs (Mick Harvey, Die! Die! Die! and Shayne P Carter etc), while Darkroom retained a free entry policy.

With the venues general success (and a keen interest in upmarket liquors), the duo decided to open a 2nd venue – the New Regent Street whiskey bar The Last Word. Eventually Worsley would take over running The Last Word.

Photo I took of Peter Gutteridge at his last Christchurch show at the Darkroom, March 2012

However in 2015 some financial issues were unearthed encompassing both bars – as a result over the course of several months several changes would take place.

Fine whiskey importer Whiskey Galore decided it was in their best interest to keep The Last Word open, and took over the running of the bar as it looked like it was to close.

Marcus Winstanley would take over propriety of Darkroom, starting a new chapter in the venues promising history. Thankfully Winstanley is a fixture of the local music scene (as a guitarist or drummer in a variety of bands – Barnard’s Star, The Undercurrents, Minisnap etc) and was previously a tutor at Christchurch’s MAINZ music recording school – for a period he was the venue manager of the Media Club, and has been involved with several other venues over the years as well.

Winstanley made several changes on taking over the venue:

I decided all shows (Darkroom included) needed cover charges and it was a lot of work to have both venues going and personally, I thought the sound quality in the back room was sub-par, so I decided to flag it.

Rebecca started up the gallery again so it’s been running as NEXT Gallery since 2016. After they moved from New Regent Street (Next door to The Last Word), the Canterbury Society of Sonic Artists operated their venue The Auricle out of NEXT Gallery from July 2016-July 2017

– Marcus Winstanley

Darkroom Alleyway

As of Winter 2017, Darkroom is the most active live music venue in Christchurch, with firm connections to up-and-coming bands (through Winstanley’s connections to MAINZ, plus a young clientele), as well as plenty of established bands up-and-down the country on tap.

Darkroom also hosts comedy and performance nights, and has strong ties to both the gallery and record store, with the occasional market or special event that encompasses each.

The Original DarkSpace

Lastly Darkroom has established a strong connection with Space Academy – the multi-use venue opposite on St Asaph Street; so far this has resulted in a handful of co-hosted multi-venue events (i.e. ‘Dark Space’), plus shows are usually planned to accommodate each others crowds.

History

2011: The Archive debuts with a warehouse party in May – eventually Darkroom opens as the music venue, with Galaxy records following.

2013: Darkroom proprietors Bryant-Greene and Worsley launch The Last Word whiskey bar on New Regent Street.

2015: Marcus Winstanley takes over the proprietorship of Darkroom.

Contact Details

info@darkroom.bar

Links

Log Recording

Also known as:

Location: 48 Lismore Street, Phillipstown

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Current Status: No longer a venue

Active as a live music venue: 2014 – 2017

Bar Manager: Henry Nicol

Bookings:

Website: http://hahalogrecording.org/

Capacity: –

All-Ages: House-Parties

Warehouse and studio space occupied by ‘The Henrys’ – i.e. Henry Nicol and Henri Kerr of local industrial / punk / noise group Log Horn Breed (hence the name), plus local punk figurehead Lance Downing, post-earthquakes. Together the trio formed Pavement Saw, who became a regular site at Log Recording shows.

The Henry’s had previously been regulars at All Plastic Recordings, prior to moving in to the Log Recording warehouse (and eventually building the studio) in 2014.

Along with Pagan House in Richmond, Log Recording was a prominent house party venue till finally closing in early 2017. The downstairs warehouse space was very large and open plan, with huge rolling doors, often opened up so performances could expand out into the car park area that surrounded the venue.

All Seeing Hand at Log Recording

Due to the occupants musical connections, shows there erred towards punk or underground sounds – even hosting the annual ‘Nevermind the PunkFest‘ event on a couple of occasions. Shows at Log had a communal vibe to them, with kids and the occasional dog attending the odd day-time show, punters bringing their own food and  alcohol, and laying back on the communal couches.

Eventually Log Recording did manage to acquire some community funding through the Rata Foundation, however within a few months the occupants had their lease ended and had to shut up shop. Since the venue closed, Log have gone on to promote shows at other venues, primarily New City Hotel.

Aside from hosting house parties, Log was used for a handful of Art installations, plus the studio space was used for several band recordings – primarily those of Log Horn Breed, Les Baxters and Leather Image.

History

  • 2014: Henry Nicol and Henri Kerr rent 48 Lismore Street, start converting downstairs area into a performance space and an adjacent studio.
  • 2016: Community funding acquired through the Rata Foundation. Space transforms into an All Arts space.
  • 2017: Lismore Street lease ends, Log Recording starts promoting events at New City Hotel.

Contact Details

  • https://www.facebook.com/logrecording/

Links

  • http://hahalogrecording.org/
  • https://www.facebook.com/logrecording/

All Plastics

Also known as:

Location: 430 Tuam Street, Philipstown

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Current Status: No longer a venue/studio

Active as a live music venue: 2004 – 2012

Bar Manager: –

Bookings:

Website:

All-Ages: House-Parties

A former plastic manufacturing business located in industrial Philipstown, All Plastics was originally leased by Nick O’Keefe of the Undercurrents some time in the 2000’s. O’Keefe, along with his band members (which included local sound-men Marcus Winstanley and Mikey Summerfield, plus Phantom Billstickers’ Jamey Holloway) began using the site as a recording studio and practice space.

Anthony Drenthe playing inside All Palstics in 2012

O’Keefe eventually moved out of the premise, with Summerfield the prime occupant for a period – during this time more and more groups started using both the recording and practice facilities.

John Harris and Ben Dodd performing outside All Plastics in 2012

 

 

Several house-party type shows were put on both inside and outside the studio space, before the last occupant (Rhett Copland of Doctors etc) left around 2013.

History

2004: Nick O’Keefe of the Undercurrents rents the former plastics factory at 430 Tuam Street, starting construction of a home studio to record his groups material.

2007: Mikey Summerfield (also of the Undercurrents) moves in, becoming the main occupant. More bands begin using the practice and recording space, and subsequently house parties with live music are held at the site.

2012: Rhett Copland (the last occupant) moves out.

Contact Details

Links

Thrill Collins, Log Horn Breed and Brian Luv at Darkroom

Hilarious, brilliant show at Darkroom last night.

Thrill Collins
Thrill Collins
Headliners Thrill Collins are comprised of Ex-Christchurch folk Jos Van Beek (vocals and discordant, not-really-guitar-at-all guitar) and Nick Robinson (rhythmic, gnarly bass), plus slinky local drummer Ben Dodd. The trio have existed in name-only fashion for quite some time, though eventually the single ‘I eat pretty well for a poor person’ established their sound back in 2010. With Jos and Nick both moving about the North Island, last nights show was essentially a reunion.

Log Horn Breed
Log Horn Breed
The always terrific Log Horn Breed opened the show, toning down the frantic feeling of previous performances to a tight, explosive set of songs. Recalling the grooves and guitar of the Birthday Party with shout-spoken storylike vocals and a bunch of interesting noise thrown in for good measure. Love these guys.

Brian Luv
Brian Luv
Speaking of Love – local singer-songwriter Brian Feary debuted his new stage persona ‘Brian Luv’, dressed to the nines and performing covers in a swarthy showman type way, even ending the night with a swag of Karaoke favourites, climbing the bar and wooing the ladies. Nice!

For the rest of the photos click here.