Now that I’ve got your attention with this photo of Matt Pike, please take two minutes to find out how you can help yet another music venue from shutting down, depriving people from potentially being able to see High on Fire there late September.
It seems to be really in the wind at the moment to shut down music venues, kill culture, and deprive the future generation of a platform to both play, perform and enjoy music. Who needs music, entertainment and a sense of community when some rich stranger can, lets say, build a bunch of luxury flats or offices instead?
This time around, it’s my all time favourite bar and music venue Garage in Bergen, Norway (The land of ice and snow, and the birthplace and home of black metal, with playing a vital part of it), under risk of being shut down by – you guessed it, some capitalistic and greedy landlord. Long story short – the venue’s been open for 28 years, providing the city with amazing music from local bands and artists, as well as touring bands from across the world. A few years back, the landlord decided to open up a hotel above the venue, and stated that the venue would have to run the hotel as part of their agreement to let. Surely running a haggard ol’ hotel is the same as running a bar…? Hm, okay then… After a while, the landlord also decided part of the deal should also be for the venue to renovate the hotel, which they again agreed to, to keep peace and for the venue to run smoothly – the building work begun. Mid renovation, the venue learns from the fire department that the premises aren’t up to fire safety regulations at all, and that the landlord’s should never have opened a hotel there in the first place. Sneaky you say, hey? The things some people do for money…
Learning this, the venue put their foot down and refused to be part of running the hotel, and this is where it got nasty. The landlord threatened to evict the pub, and put the premises on the market without notifying them, as well as reaching out to the venue’s business partners and sponsors telling them that the venue’s closing down shortly. And this is where we are today, it’s still unclear what will happen – while the owners of the venue are working to keep the it open and their 20 or so employees employed and afloat, the landlord is laying low with their shark like lawyers on the case. Worst case scenario, the venue can be shut down by September 1st. Now, despite being the second biggest city in Norway, Bergen ain’t big, and Garage is the only venue of it’s kind and size (with the exception of student run ‘Hulen’ which closes over Christmas and summer, peak drinking times some might say), and has become a meeting place for musicians and music lovers from all around town, whether it’s grabbing a beer after work or attending one of their weekly gigs – as well as being the perfect 300 or so capacity venue, big enough for bigger acts, small enough to still be intimate.
I’ve seen bands such as Turbonegro, Triggerfinger and Radio Moscow there, and sadly enough, missed out on Kvelertak who played what I only imagine was two spectacular shows there earlier this year. For Bergen to lose Garage, hell, it would be devastating. I have lived London nearly seven years now, but keep an eye out for Garage gigs at a regular basis as I’d fly home in a heartbeat. I also make a point of stopping by every single time I go home, last time arriving to Hendrix in Stockholm played on a projector. The day after Lemmy died, they played Motörhead and Hawkind for nine hours – nine. We cheersed in whiskey and cried to Overkill. It was beautiful, a bunch of strangers coming together to celebrate his life and music at Garage, that sorta thing could only happen at Garage, there’s no other place like it, so please don’t take it away from us.
I’ve started a petition where you can raise your voice and stick it to the man. By signing it, you state that Garage should remain open, and keep adding cultural value to the community as it’s done for nearly three decades.