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

Barnard’s Star

Biography

Wonderful now-defunct 4-piece shoe-gazers out of the garden city that put out 2 7″ Lathe Cut EPs, and a stunning 6-track album that turned out to be their parting recording some 2 years later.

Barnard’s Star live shot, from http://flamingrednz.blogspot.co.nz/

Comparisons could be drawn to My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and “Nowhere era Ride – but Barnard’s Star took a decidedly more ethereal approach – distilling the shoe-gazer sound to a fine pulsing tone, which was quite a spectacle live.

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

Playing coffee houses and small gigs in sporadic fashion, they became quite the cult act – especially due to their apparent lack of recorded material, so when they broke up in 2002 – their recordings became as scarce as the musicians themselves.

First EP, image from http://flamingrednz.blogspot.co.nz/

Winstanley has gone on to form the Undercurrents and now has involvement with the Creation venue and art-space, whilst bass player Helen Greenfield and guitarist Nick Guy went into seclusion, eventually performing (so far a single gig!) material as Helen and Nick with a synth-drone focus.

2nd EP, image from http://flamingrednz.blogspot.co.nz/

Finally their drummer Tyrone Thorn (who replaced original drummer Fraser and also handled some drum programming and sampling duties on the EP) moved to Sydney, forming electro outfit Swingingtastybag.

Barnard’s Star [1999]

Members

  • Marcus Winstanley (Guitar, 1996 – 2002)
  • Helen Greenfield (Bass, 1996 – 2002)
  • Nick Guy (Guitar, 1996 – 2002)
  • Tyrone Thorn (Drums and Programming, 199? – 2002)
  • Frazer Talbot (Drums, 1996 – 199?)

Discography

  • ‘Miasma’/’Object #6’ 7″ lathe-cut [1998 Beat Atlas]
  • ‘Miasma (Helena)’/’nebula’ 7″ lathe-cut [1998 Beat Atlas]
  • Barnard’s Star [1999 Beat Atlas BEAT009]

Links

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

The Palace Of Wisdom

Biography

The Palace of Wisdom originated in 1999 when well established Christchurch rock’n’roller Ben Johnstone (Guitar/Backing Vocals – Hi-Tone Destroyers, The Incisions) got together with intimidating vocalist Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell, adding hooky guitar riffs to O’Connell’s hurricane force vocals. The resulting recording was released as part of the No Thanks To New Zealand On Air compilation in 2000. Matt Alien (Hi-Tone Destroyers, Black Panthers, Space Dust, Slavetrader) joined on drums, with the line-up complete by English bassist Ian Lloyd.

With Lloyd’s departure in late 2000, ALC5 (yet another Hi-Tone Destroyers member) joined the group on Bass, however after a year with the group he was also replaced, this time by the legendary Mick Elborado (Scorched Earth Policy, The Terminals, Gas, The Axemen, Drowning Is Easy etc), who became a mainstay in the group and is responsible for the bands huge, over-driven bass sound on the excellent Pills EP.

The group then started to rotated through a number of drummers with Nick Harte (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks, Black Albino, CM Ensemble, The Urinators) in February 2002, Tim MacDonald (The Incisions, Shocking Pinks) in March 2003, Simon Nunn (Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine, The Undercurrents, Kate in the Lemon Tree, Weaponized, Hi-Tone Destroyers etc) in December 2003, and then Chris Andrews (a million lights, Mysterioball, Idols of Eve, Pop Hits City, O’Lovely) in November 2004.

This line-up was the longest of the group, though recordings from this era (which lasted almost 4 years) are limited to Stuck In The Suck. After a disastrous recording session at Christchurch’s MAINZ, and other internal issues – Mick Elborado left the group. Jared Kelly (The Pickups, Blue Moon) then joined in May 2008, with Andrews and Kelly switching instruments after their first practice.

2008 was a particularly important year for the group, recording the Common Threads EP with the lineup of O’Connell (Vocals), Johnstone (Guitar), Andrews (Bass) And Kelly (Drums) Before Stink Magnetic‘s Aiden Moody (Bad Evil, Grand Chancellors) joined as a 2nd guitarist, moving down from Palmerston North. This was an important change for the group as in late 2009 founding guitarist Ben Johnstone left to raise a family in Canada, and Moody took over his lead guitar duties.

Both Kelly and Andrews left for other towns in 2010, however Ox enlisted the help of drummer Michael Summerfield (The Undercurrents, Cowboy Machine), before Andrews rejoined in early 2011 on bass guitar. The group played the very last show at historic Lyttelton venue El Santo Porteno, just 2 days before the February 2011 earthquake. This disrupted the progress the group had been making, with guitarist Moody moving on to form surf group The Grand Chancellors.

The group resurfaced in early 2012 with Jared Kelly once again playing drums (replacing a departing Summerfield), with John Harris (Lonely Harris Club, Doctors, BnP) quickly establishing himself as their latest guitarist. Summerfield would eventually find himself back in the group after a hilarious stage moment at the (now bull-dozed) New Brighton Tavern which saw Kelly replaced mid-set by multi-instrumentalist Rhett Copland, and this line-up played quite a few shows over the next couple years.

Which Palace’s recorded output completely stagnant Ox formed a new group with guitarist Dave Branton named The Ruling Elite, which eventually picked up Andrews (switching to 2nd guitar). Eventually both groups began utilizing talented free-form drummer Rory ‘IRD’ Dalley – with the new group quickly writing and recording a whole swag of new recorded output, whilst Palace remains a tight live-act-only type of group.

Over the course of the last 15 years the group has played a string of high-profile support slots, including The Chills, The Datsuns and of particular note – US group Dead Moon, who the group cover (‘Unknown Passage’) and are of particular importance to vocalist O’Connell with their never-say-die attitude to Rock’n’Roll. The Palace of Wisdom’s set is augmented by a number of re-interpreted covers, often quite removed from the originals, or obscure in their origin – this includes The Great Unwashed‘s ‘Born in the Wrong Time’ (as ‘Sending Him Away’), and Joy Division’s ‘Sound of Music’.

 

Members

  • Andrew ‘Ox’ O’Connell (Vocals, 1999-)
  • Ben Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2009)
  • Matt ‘Alien’ Johnstone (Guitar, 1999-2002)
  • Ian Lloyd (Bass, 1999)
  • Alan ‘ALC5’ Cameron (Bass, 2000-2001)
  • Mick Elborado (Bass, 2001-2007)
  • Nick ‘Harte’ Hodgson (Drums, 2002-2003)
  • Tim MacDonald (Drums, 2003)
  • Simon Nunn (Drums, 2003-2004)
  • Chris Andrews (Drums/Bass, 2004-2010, 2011-)
  • Jared Kelly (Bass/Drums, 2008-2010, 2012)
  • Rhett Copland (Drums, 2012)
  • Aiden Moody (Guitar, 2008-2010)
  • Michael Summerfield (Drums, 2010-2012)
  • John Harris (Guitar, 2010-)
  • Rory Dalley (Drums, 2015-)

Discography

  • The ‘P’ EP [2001 Self-Released]
  • Candy Pants [2002 Self-Released]
  • Pills EP [2003 Self-Released]
  • Stuck In The Suck [2006 Self-Released]
  • Burnside EP [2008 Self-Released]
  • Common Threads EP [2009 Self-Released]

    Links

  • MySpace
  • BandCamp
  • Facebook
  • LastFM
  • Photo’s on Flickr

Squirm

Biography

Brilliant 90’s Christchurch sludge-rock outfit comprised of Brett Lupton, Daryl Kirk and Mike Brassell (Hiss Explosion).

Released a series of warped, discordant guitar albums, based around Brassell’s excellent guitar-work and an inventive, lo-fi and somewhat sloppy (in a good way) approach to recording songs.

The group was formed by Brassell, Lupton and Original Drummer Andrew Meier (aka ‘Hat’ – who would go on to have an involvement with Flying Nun and as station manager for Christchurch’s RDU radio station), with the original line-up recording and releasing a cassette on Peter Mitchell’s Flat City label.

After Hat’s departure in 1993, Darryl Kirk joined the line-up – the line-up that would record the bulk of the bands output. In their last line-up Pete Mitchell became the new drummer, whilst Vaughen Watson (The Undercurrents, Pumpkinhead) joined as bassist.

Members

  • Michael Brassell (Guitar/Vocals/Bass, 1992 -1996)
  • Brett Lupton (Guitar/Vocals/Sampler, 1992 – 1996)
  • Andrew Meier (Drums, 1992)
  • Darryl Kirk (Drums/Keyboards, 1993)
  • Peter Mitchell (Drums, 1993 – 1996)
  • Vaughen Watson (Bass, 1993 – 1996)

Discography

  • Feeding The Cround Cassette (1992, Flat City)
  • Whip Me Honey EP [1994, Failsafe Records, SAFE027)
  • Mastermistakemaker [1995, Failsafe Records, SAFE028)
  • Spastic Sarcastic [1996, Noseflute)

Links

 

 

Voom, the Sneaks and The Undercurrents @ the Dux de Lux [21/03/07]


At the Dux de Lux [21/03/07]
So after catching Hot Fuzz (a cop film from the makers of Shaun of the Dead – Fantastically funny) we made it down to the dux in time on a lazy wednesday night to fill out the crowd a little; i guess $15 is probably a little steep on a wednesday…

Anyway we caught most of the Undercurrents, and there set was excellent; i love it when they’re restrained and mellow, all those lovely textures come rolling out, showing off their quality tunes.
speaking of which, its no secret the Sneaks are one of my fav NZ bands due to their knack with quality, catchy pop songs. They rocked through a class set of tracks like ‘Godzilla’, ‘Kuzai Heart U Girl’, ‘You Suck!’ and ‘Hot Amyl Nitrate’ as a bunch of us fools jumped around in front of them; so much fun and apparantly the albums out soon! choice!
Voom were Voom. A couple real good crowd-favs, but im always left feeling a little passive with those guys. Still ‘Be Your Boy’ is a great track and with the new lineup they;re certainly tighter than a ducks bum.
see more photos from this show at flickr

Black Market Art

Biography

Fantastic youthful Christchurch pop-rock trio from the mid 2000’s.

Darian Woods channeling his inner Edgar Winter

Forming at Cashmere High School, Darian Woods, Joseph Harper and Matt Scobie were a popular band within the All-Ages and eventually the indie-rock scene within Christchurch, releasing a terrific debut album (which subsequently became their swan-song) in 2007.

Matt Scobie

Woods would go on to form Wet Wings before relocating overseas to study, Joseph Harper is a stand-up comedian and writer now living in Auckland, whilst Matt Scobie has become a big part of the Christchurch live music scene, playing in a handful of popular local bands (The Undercurrents, T54, Planet of the Tapes etc).

Joseph Harper

Members

  • Darian Woods (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Joseph Harper (Bass)
  • Matthew Scobie (Drums)

Discography

  • Kids (2007, Self-Released)

Links

 

The Centre Will Hold

Biography

Melodic mid 90’s (1996-8) Christchurch popsters (Nathan Bycroft, Jamey Holloway and Tom Mountfort).

Released 3 songs to student radio only – ‘Splint’, ‘At the Centre’ and ‘We Go Down’, and then a 5 track, 6 minute EP called the ‘A Flat Pop Songs’ (‘A Flat Pop Songs One’, ‘..Two’ ‘..Three’ and ‘..Four’ and ‘The Key’) which we made in Nathan’s lounge on the little four track and Mike Brassel (aka Mike Hex) sent it out on Noseflute for us.
– The Centre Will Hold
Halloway and Bycroft would later form the long-running Christchurch group The Undercurrents.

Members

  • Nathan Bycroft
  • Jamey Holloway
  • Tom Mountfort

Discography

  • The A Flat Pop Songs EP (1998?, Noseflute)

Links

 

Mixtape Connection + Onanon [01/12/06]

The very last Mixtape Connection @ Capitol bar + Onanon @ the Wunderbar [01/12/06]

So the night i got back from Auckland was a hugely busy night in Christchurch. After picking up a PA from the Jetset and dropping off some posters at the Bats show at Al’s bar, the Mixtape Connection was the destination, a couple hours spent sipping back drinks on RDU’s tab as the Mixtape finished up in a super-fun way.

However the good folk from Dunedin known as Onanon were playing a late show all the way over in Lyttelton at the Wunderbar (missed the Undercurrents), so we had to make the trip. good idea too, great poppy rock with cool songs like ‘Uri Geller’ and some cool stuff from the new EP.

See more photos from this show at flickr

Minisnap

3/4 quarters of the Bats (minus Rob Scott), all under Kaye Woodward’s lead. Creating great pop tunes in the garden city, they’re thoroughly under-appreciated by Christchurch’s notoriously apathetic gig-going crowd. Its a pity as Kaye’s become quite the song-writer in Rob Scott’s absence.
Lately Marcus Winstanley (Barnard’s Star and the Undercurrents) has been joining in as an additional guitarist on some tracks along with helping out on the mixing board. Their follow-up ep March Hare was released mid 2004.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • In My Pocket Ep Ep [2002 Self-Released] Rn

  • March Hare Ep [2004 Self-Released]

See-Also