Located upstairs on the corner of Lichfield and Colombo Streets (though the address is Colombo Street, the entrance was actually on Lichfield) and ran by the Yee family for a few years in the mid 90’s.
..Open around mid ’93. Owned by the Yee Family. Had bands and then even had happy hardcore/trance parties! Daega Bar was downstairs to the left of the main entrance. Got demoed and replaced with the Contemporary Lounge part of Ballantynes.
-Tim Baird (Pinacolada Records)
Posters from the era show that it was a very regular venue with shows 4 nights a week and close ties to both then-student radio station RDU and local skate and clothing outlet Cheap Skates.
Particularly notable are posters from Ape Management‘s Rock Hardman, showing a very dynamic comic style which would also feature on Ape Management (and other Homebacon groups) art work over the coming years, along with further posters at the likes of Warners and His Lordships.
1993?: Quadrophenia opens as a venue hosting bands up to 4 nights a week
1996?: Quadrophenia closes, replaced by Daegar Bar?
2011: Building is heavily damaged and eventually demolished after the Canterbury Earthquakes, replaced by what is now part of Ballantynes.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Old and dilapidated wooden villa on Madras Street that functioned as a rather excellent venue for house parties and all-age events for a few years prior to the Canterbury Earthquakes in 2010 / 2011.
Occupied by a variety of individuals connected to Christchurch live music, student radio (RDU) and all-ages (Red Panda) scenes, the house was opened up for day time shows on the front-lawn or in the living room.
The occupants lived through the 2010 / 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes, but eventually moved out – the owners then discovering how extensively damaged the building was – though the original building still stands as of 2017.
Former tenant, Red Panda member and RDU Sheep Technique DJ Eamonn Marra provided a (presumed) complete list of the acts that played the Log Cabin over the years:
Ok, a couple of big shows at Dux Live this weekend; firstly Goodshirt returned after what seems like a decade, playing material from their to-be-released comeback EP plus a string of their catchy earlier singles.
Sleepy Age we’re just phenomenal in support, playing in a new line-up with three (sassy) backup singers. Check out the photos here.
The 2nd show was saturdays final of the RDU 2012 Round-Up band competition, won by the talented up-n-coming lads Ipswich.
Only got the chance to see Ipswich, but they were a lot of fun, with the crowd moshing around to ‘Alien vs. Sexual Predator’. Choice. Photos here.
My good friend Eamonn Marra is part of the crew who tookover from me as RDU’s Sheep Technique Host – the kiwi music show on Christchurch’s student radio station. anyway he’s recently put out a mixtape of a few kiwi songs, to complement the excellent radio shows he performs just about every wednesday (at 7pm – 98.5FM).
Canterbury University’s student radio station has been sold for $1 without the knowledge of its student body.
According to confidential documents and emails given to The Press, the University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) decided to sell the student station’s RDU brand to newly formed private company RDU 98.5FM Ltd for $1 earlier this month. Its office and equipment have also been sold to the company for $1, while its frequency will be sub-licensed.
The decision has not yet been made public and was made behind closed doors in a secret ballot.
The new operators, who The Press understands include people involved with the current station, will take over the day-to-day running, from February 1 next year.
Confidential documents on the sale have been circulated around the university campus and many students are angry they were left out of the decision-making process.
UCSA executive board member Dan Bason resigned from the board two days after the decision because he felt students should have been consulted on the sale. “It’s a student-owned radio station and the students are getting no say in its future. Everything’s been done behind closed doors,” Bason said.
“Most of the people I’ve talked to sort of are quite disappointed with it. They see RDU as part of the student culture and part of the student persona and the fact that its fate’s been decided without their consultation
The Klap take it out! Excellent result and a tight fought contest with pre-show favorites the Klap victories in RDU’s annual (10th anniversary) band competition at the Dux de Lux. Tiny Paper Daggers were a close 2nd I reckon – the strength of their song ‘Unicorn’ just about taking it, but I think the Klap were a great choice. Runners up were blues showman’s Denmark Street, The Bizarre new Dave Mulcahy project Sexy Animals, and thebigcity favorites Jimmy Zoom and the Beytown Grifters.