Lansdowne In Memoriam: Another One Bites the Dust

Kate Young
12th Aug 2015

Before Triple J Unearthed, Spotify and even Pandora, if you wanted to find new bands to listen to you had to seek them out yourself. I remember being in my late teens and every Wednesday I would make my way to the local record store; For me that was Red Back Records in The Gong. Here I would collect myself a copy of Drum Media - the holy bible of gig listings. I would carefully go through and mark off every band I planned to see that coming weekend. Back then it seemed like there just wasn’t enough time to catch every gig.

Now 15 years later it seems more and more places are becoming extinct. First it was the Annandale Hotel being bought by the Oscar group and even though it has reopened it will never be the same, to more recently Q Bar which after 22 years closed its doors in July.

Now it seems another iconic music venue will be shutting its doors for the final time in late September. The Landsdowne first opened its doors 82 years ago. For many young bands, playing at The Lansdowne was their first step into the world of live performance and in the 80's and 90's was the home for every punk, goth and alternative rocker out there.

My fondest memory would have to be my first trip to the Landsdowne. I had caught the train up from the Gong and was about to experience a pub in the “big smoke”. I remember standing outside the venue, neon sign shining in my eyes, as this three-story monstrosity towered over me. People were spilling out onto the sidewalk to catch a breath of fresh air and second hand smoke. As I made my way into the bar you could smell the beer, the sweat and God knows what that stickiness was that held onto every second footstep I made towards the stage. The bands were loud, the music was fast, people's fists were raised to the sky in unison at they chanted along to the lyrics and I knew that I had found my people and that this would be my Friday night home.

As I got older, so to did my relationship with the Landsdowne, after Fairday it was the place to meet with friends and re-hydrate after hours in the sun. Even as I left the Uni life behind and started working for the man, this was a place to get a cheap and cheerful meal - a $7 chicken schnitzel. You just couldn’t beat it.

So what are the plans for the future of this iconic and historical building? The Landsdowne is scheduled to become the new home for many budding musicians as it gets transformed into the Academy of Music and Performing Arts. It will host around 200 students and have study, performance and recording spaces. There is even talk of having public space available for bands to perform and many are very skeptical about how this will work. It seems that all this study could be in vain for if the music scene continues down the path in which it's currently heading there will be nowhere for them to play.

Many have blamed the much-discussed lockout laws as one of the highest contributing factors for the demise of many of Sydney’s much loved venues closing their doors, but I also wonder if us as patrons are to blame as well. Do we need to be back out there listening to the music and giving these venues a need to stay open?


Photo of BraCode performing at the Lansdowne by Carolyn Nowaczyk