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 (proper) venue of his own, after running the 2nd hand store of Echo Records for a number of years.
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 live photos.
Location: 31 Dundas Street, Central Christchurch
Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, replaced by commercial buildings
Active as a live music venue: 2004 – 2011
Bar Manager: Al Park
- 2004: Opened as a live music venue’
- 2010: Damaged in 2010 Earthquakes, but re-opens soon after’
- 2011: Earthquakes permanently close the venue.