Static Gallery becomes the latest Liverpool music venue to cease hosting gigs – but this time through force by Liverpool City Council. Getintothis’ Jon Davies and Peter Guy report on the latest blow to the city’s gig scene.
Despite the noise debate and the rallying in support of the art space, Static Gallery has been given more restrictive orders from Liverpool City Council following a noise abatement notice and there has had to force its hand in canceling all forthcoming gigs.
Obviously this is a sad day for musicians, promoters and gig-goers in Liverpool, and particularly for Getintothis after hosting our very own curated Liars gig during Liverpool Music Week in 2010.
These pages have championed Static Gallery since it’s beginnings – when it emerged not just as a space for performance – but a hub for creativity.
Static has regularly been in Getintothis‘ top three venues in Liverpool since it emerged in 2007, hosting the likes of Spectrum, Wild Swans, John Foxx, Wave Machines, Mi Ami and Sun Drums, Lanterns on the Lake and The Big House, Crystal Stilts and Spectrals, Jeffrey Lewis and Dead Cities, Ólöf Arnalds, John Grant, Forest Swords, The Vaselines, Hot Club de Paris, Mazes and Yuck, Colourmusic, The Publicist and Chain & The Gang, Maps and Fly With Vampires and Chrome Hoof.
And that’s just scraping the surface when you factor in Liverpool Music Week and Liverpool Sound City‘s close relationship with the space.
This is yet another great venue lost in the city centre, however, whereas the others had been starved by lack of financial balance, Static‘s music program had been ostensibly murdered by nearby residents.
Of course it will still continue as a place for great art installations and artist studios, but gigs really put the venue on the map for the majority of those who frequented Static.
Rewind a month or so and Static hosted a noise debate that included Daniel Hunt from Ladytron and Councilor Steve Munby.
By the end of the evening chair Doug Clelland concluded that Static should have its noise abatement notice revoked in order to open up fairer discussions between venue and residents.
This did not happen, and as is inevitable with resident power and councilors a small minority has managed to affect not only the musical landscape of the city, but also the economic make up of Liverpool.
Are we not, after all, the last English Capital of Culture? Has Liverpool not been trading its musical heritage for the past 50 years? It seems like as soon as we hit on hard times financially we’re happy to simply let everything that made Liverpool great go.
Maybe we’re being over the top, but the number of venues, although still fairly plentiful has severely depleted since the end of Korova. And it doesn’t help that the people of Liverpool, albeit we must stress only a few, are willing to reduce it even further.
Perhaps the most worrying thing is that in comparison to Concert Square and other clubs along Hardman Street, Static rarely puts on loud events, although there have been a few which have all rocked the venue to its foundations.
In contrast every Thursday and Friday from the top of the hill by the University right to the docks we play host to recreation, easy as you like club nights, pound-a pint-offerings, and various holdings of pop and cheese. If we’re not careful Liverpool will be stuck in the past forever, under the cloud of the Beatles and its own monumental history.
So what to do? In the most immediate term we hope there to be a galvanisation of the music scene around Static Gallery to get its orders revoked, but in the long run we must keep attending shows, supporting every form of music available, from folk and rock to noise and experimental. It’s the only way to stop the rot.
Thoughts on Static…
Liverpool Sound City and Wingwalker promoter Darren Roper: ‘It is a real shame to see another venue in the city close its musical doors. Emerging music will always find a new home regardless. The next wave our fine city produces will be playing in un-licensed, un-insured and un-traceable locations. Should we now be thanking the council for making our gigs illegal, dangerous and thus that bit cooler?‘
Mike Deane, Liverpool Music Week Director: ‘There’s been several recent announcements of various venue closures for different reasons recently, but none that have hit harder than this. Static has been integral to our arts scene for many years as a superb multi-discipline venue, working with and supporting an incredible range of quality local & international artists, promoters, exhibitors, and creatives. This really is one of the city’s true independent gems, run by an individual who lives, breathes and promotes the city & its culture. This decision is very upsetting, and quite frankly, baffling.‘
Musician and Getintothis contributor Alan O’Hare said: ‘This is one we can’t dress up as anything but bad news. Bad news for music lovers, bad news for grass roots arts in Liverpool and really bad news for the people whose livelihoods this short-sighted city council decision affects.
But it is just that: bad news. Not a disaster. It’s like in football these days, every tackle warrants a yellow card. What happened to just giving a foul? Social media has made bad news go the same way: it’s got to be a disaster. This isn’t. Static Gallery is a tangible, living and breathing organisation.
The Liverpool music scene isn’t. Lots of venues have closed for both right and wrong reasons over the years and still bands and scenes have found a way – Threshold 2012 and The Kazamier being the latest, fantastic examples – to survive and thrive.
Static’s live music programme may be gone – but we can fight to bring it back. And while we’re doing that, we’ll all still be able to enjoy great gigs around the city. My point? One swallow doesn’t make a summer.
Static Gallery may have been one of the main arteries of the scene, but it wasn’t at its heart. We are. So let’s get some blood pumping around the rest of our hallowed halls and keep the life in our town…‘
Getintothis contributor Will Fitzpatrick said: ‘Liverpool has finally started to attract the sort of touring artists who would previously have bypassed this end of the M62 in favour of Manchester. This is in no small part down to the efforts of promoters such as Harvest Sun, Wingwalker and Liverpool Sound City – they recognise the importance of venues like Static Gallery in bringing these bands to our city. The decision reflects the apparent fact that while Liverpool is more than willing to trade on a perceived reputation as a musical city, it is disappointingly unprepared to facilitate the spaces needed to keep this aspect of its local culture alive.‘
For now, here’s a moment from Fanfarlo‘s gig on February 25 – what may turn out to be the last gig at Static Gallery.
If you wish to express your disappointment in the decision to withdraw the ability for Static Gallery to host live music events email firstname.lastname@example.org