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’
Early Christchurch punk band, evolving out of the standard Rock’n’Roll / R’n’B covers formula in 1975 to eventually cross over as the scene took hold in the late 70’s.
Soon after his arrival (from England) Oliver Scott formed with multi-instrumentalist Nicky Carter the nucleus of what would eventually play live as the Detroit Hemorrhoids. Stablised by late 1975 as Scott, Carter, Paul Kean (bass), Jane Walker (drums) and Mark Wilson (lead guitar), the band began by playing parties and a golden bay commune.
What made the Hemorrhoids different from all the other long-haired rock bands (apart from their female drummer) was their choice of material.
Whilst there were no originals, Scott taught the band songs which no other hotel act were doing; material by acknowledged punk antecedents the Velvet Underground (5 songs), Pretty Things (“Roadrunner”, “Hey mama, keep your big mouth shout”) and Iggy Pop (“I need somebody”, “Search and destroy”).
Also, there were ‘old’ pop hits like “You keep me hangin’ on” (Vanilla Fudge version), the Crystals “Da do ron ron”, Roxy Music’s “Virginia plain” and others in an eclectic, but generally hard rock / r’n’b set.
– From Wade Churton in his triple essay book ‘Glam, Punk, and Scorched Earth Policy’:
The Hemorrhoids would go on to become one of Christchurch’s formulative punk bands, centered around the Mollett Street Market space which survived through the late 70’s. Kean and Walker would later leave for Auckland as The Enemy transitioned from Punk to New Wave to become Toy Love.
Perhaps the closest to true English punk of the original Christchurch Mollett Street scene.
The Doomed formed in June  around the guitar / bass duo of Ian Costello and Pete McKelvie, who were joined a few weeks later by vocalist Richard Driver and drummer Tony Millar, for subsequent band practices at Rolleston Hall.
The Doomed were the Christchurch punk band who proved most firmly based in the provocative tradition of the Sex Pistols and English punk. Driver and Millar took on ‘punk’ names, becoming Johnny Abort and Les Percussions. In their haste to work up a set of ‘authentic’ punk rock, the band infamously made a meal of one of the few actual punk rock records to gain local release in 1977, “The Roxy London WC2” album, which formed the bulk of their live set for almost their entire career.
The band learned almost all of “The Roxy..” and the band’s live debut at Mollet St in November Driver was also wont to include many of the exaggeratedly ‘punk’ (i.e. deliberately grating, thuggish ‘working-class’ English accents) announcements and monologues in between the songs.
– From Wade Churton (in his triple essay book ‘Glam, Punk and Scorched Earth Policy’
In September , the nucleus of another band formed at Burnside High School.
Brothers Mark and Scott Brooks were guitarist and bassist and Findlay Calderwood became drummer. From Boys’ High came vocalist Michael Williams.
Initially the band were known as ‘Uncle Meat’, but after they became a quartet they gave themselves a decisively punk identity. The new name managed to lampoon ‘Hoon’ culture and snipe at both middle-class and freak sensibilities.
Johnny Velox and Vauxhalls was again a four-piece band built firmly on the Pistols/Ramones model. Williams became the titular character, Mark and Scott Brooks became Kid Buick and Eugene Dipstick, and Calderwood became Dick Distant.
Though very young (all were in their mid-teens), the band’s instrumentalists had the funky long hair and flares of freakdom but like The Doomed crossed over with the slightly-ripped safety-pinned-opportunity-shop jacket aesthetic of punk.
Williams indulged his character’s glam-rock star roots and wore bright red dyed hair with his wraparound shades, slashed t-shirt and dog-collar choker.
In contrast to The Doomed’s slightly one-dimensional Pistols/English punk outrage, the Vauxhalls had a decidedly more ‘musical’ slant to their version of punk. In the absence of specifically ‘punk’ records for initial set-building material, the Vauxhalls utilized currently available music by acknowledged antecedents.
The early Vauxhalls quickly mashed together and eclectic glam / 1960’s set [covering Bowie, Eno, The Stooges, Roxy Music, Slade, The Who, Velvet Underground etc]… as well as joking covers of television advertisement jingles…
– From Wade Churtons’ Glam, Punk and Scorched Earth Policy