Rosies - An Obituary
By James Geekie
It was a sad time for the Brisbane metal scene this week with the closure of another venue willing to do live music, Rosies Live. Whilst many genres are affected, I believe the metal scene is the one feeling the hardest done by. Goddammit, we made that venue. Together. Sure the honeymoon was short and fractures quick to appear, but I know many people who look back on those eight months of Club Phoenix mayhem with a smile and shake of the head...wondering where hundreds of dollars from our bank accounts and tens of hours disappeared every week. Whatever the hell happened, it had to be fun right?
Anyways, the old girl struggled valiantly onwards and I think it was fitting her final night be with us. Sure she wasn't what she used to be... the floor sticky, the beer taps not as plentiful, the decor a little tired... but it's always been our dank hole in some way or another. So forgive me this rather indulgent feat but I really felt like someone should say something, an obituary of sorts, and since I've been with Rosies Live from day one (with only one other, Ean "Ever Suffering" Redman behind the sound desk able to claim the same fame!) I figured I had some kind of responsibility to do it.
Firstly, the History.
The Basement Ending.
Again, such a sad time. There are a few different stories as to why it closed and people often talk about what it is now. To be honest, I don't know anything so I'm not going to comment. But I do know that as a scene, we were pretty screwed. The venues we did have were either inadequate or unfriendly to anything with a distortion pedal. At the time I was working a bit with Minus Life frontman Scott Moss on shows (I remember being able to help him run a tour with Mortal Sin, legend) and he was showing me the inner workings of shows and tourings so we decided to start taking action. We wrote up a brief business proposal and literally door knocked bars and pubs in the Brisbane CBD like a metal version of Jehovah's Witnesses, but instead of selling eternal salvation, we were selling a steady crowd with a penchant to drink beer. Heaps'o'farkin'beer mate. As you could imagine, it was pretty hard going. Some places literally laughed. Some places feigned interest, but I think they were being polite to the cute widdle weddleheads. But then we walked past The Underground on Edward St (you know the one, right down the road from the Commonwealth Bank?), a nightclub my then girlfriend had occasionally danced at and had mentioned no one was ever inside this massive venue... so we slipped the business proposal under the locked doors and shuffled off.
Later that night we got a call from the very new owner of the venue. Turns out he had been sitting inside The Underground having a meeting with the (then) entertainment manager, wondering how they could turn a fledgling dance club into a live venue when they heard Scott and I rattling at the doors. They went upstairs to find our proposal sitting there. How is that for some fucking movie magic? I hope someone makes a movie or documentary about my minuscule-ass life one day, just to see that bit done with really bad actors in a re-enactment. We had a brief meeting right there on a Tuesday evening and were told to write up something more substantial. Holy. Shit.
That night Scott and I conversed for a while and eventually I wrote up a more fleshed out proposal to start the club out. We got Mr Kent Haines involved, who at the time was doing his best to keep things going along with Wednesday Metal but also needed a weekend venue for shows. We also hit up the young punk core kid Lochlan Watt to do what he could with Thursday night shows. We got Salty of Ozprog planning some big shows (goddamn those Ozprog shows were good). The next day a meeting was had with the owner and he gave us the go ahead to start contacting carpenters and sound engineers. You have to remember this is in late November of 2006. The owner wanted a fully operating club opening in the New Year, meaning we had to build a stage, install a PA, book two months of shows, promote at least one month of them and then tell everyone about it... all in just 6 weeks. So we crossed our hearts, held onto our balls and said we could open as Club Phoenix on Saturday January 6th. Then we got to work. Scott and Kent started contacting bands from all around the country about shows, Ean was installing PAs whilst I helped Tone of Duke Noir (an ex-carpenter) build the stage... which included bribing my pal Doug Bjur on Christmas Eve with bottles of Scotch and whiskey to deliver wood in his work truck so that we could build the stage over some grueling nineteen hour days in a Brisbane summer. It's important to note that everyone put in on that stage. Many hands helped put that baby together!
Anyways, we got there in the end.
Club Phoenix (Jan 6th, 2007 - 31st Aug 2007)
And thus we had it. Our very own venue. Opening night was over 800 payers. Something in the vicinity of $23,000 drank over the bar, and that's at 2007 prices. And I think about ten people were asked to leave. Not a single serious fight, even with all those people.
Wednesdays continued the Brisbane tradition, a place for newbies to nervously show off the wares to a looming crowd. Thursday a night for those strange new kids in the full sleeve colour skivvies to flail around. Friday and Saturday... the big ones. The main events. The biggest and best in metal, rock and punk. Just when the defenseless punters thought, "That's it, no more, there are no more good line-ups or bands I want to see" POW! A four band line-up that simply had to be seen. Of course it didn't, we'd probably book them again in a month. But we all were having a hell of a party and I think that's the main thing to remember. We saw some simply amazing bands, met some great people and formed memories that we think we remember through that beery haze for most likely the rest of our lives.
As always, more venues also have the same idea as the former Underground, and it's a good thing. 299 and Step Inn started putting on shows and promoters went each and every other way, but no one should have a monopoly on any market anywhere as it keeps things honest. Scott bowed out of running Club Phoenix full time after a couple of months to focus on part time work and running other shows and tours. Kent then ran the club fulltime until August 2007 when Club Phoenix closed its doors and Inferno at the Step was born. Club Phoenix was managed by a very, very bitter old man who simply could not stand "that messy, black-shirted mess of a crowd". When the owner was away on a long holiday he took matters into his own hands and installed a new promoter who renamed the venue Rosies Live (its original and old name) and started booking with a tendency towards a softer indie crowd. The final night of Club Phoenix was a Friday in August and was attended by over 550 people. The next night it opened as Rosies Live to 26 payers.
1st Sept 2007 - Sept 2008 (Rosies Live)
This period was pretty dull for metal at Rosies Live. The new bookers honoured a couple of my shows but most were moved to Step/299. The owner returned from holidays and wasn't exactly stoked. Especially when we had a LORD-headlined Brismetal.com Metal Convention that got more punters in one night than the new bookers had got in two months. Hence a drunken call at 2am in which I was asked who to hire to put the venue back on the right track. Anthony "Antz" Palmer of Overcranked/PLD fame stepped up and took over bookings, finally allowing for some decent numbers to return to the venue. I believe it was Antz who also introduced Destroy All Lines to Rosies, and though dislike that scene most of us might, there were more of them then and they put much needed capital in the venue. Antz moved on to other projects and the venue, sick of putting all its eggs in one basket, allowed DAL to run Thursdays and Saturdays... with Monstrothic sandwiched in the middle on Fridays. A date was set for October and that was that.
Monstrothic (3rd Oct 2008 - May 27th 2011)
Nervously... timidly... like twice crossed lovers who need to believe they're still wanted, we settled as a community into a Friday night routine. And I think as a group we got it right. I may have co-ordinated, but it would have been nothing without guys like Kent, Scott, Antz, Salty, Lochlan, Mousey and other less frequent promoters still bringing great line-ups and bands to the stage and telling everyone about it. Ean provided his stellar sound night after night and the venue continued to support with what I still think were great drink prices and promotions.
I think a lot of people reading this might come from around my age group and might be reading all this with a knowledge that Rosies can never replace the prodigal Basement for them, and that's fine. I can fully and completely appreciate that. We have to think of the young'uns who have come through in the last 4.5 years and still remember that first time they finished a song and heard the crowd yell in enthusiasm. The first time they woke up and had to ask a friend 'what happened at Rosies last night?'. The first time they stood in front of those towering stacks, with those lights flashing hypnotically thinking "Holy fuck, I have to find out what this band is called and when they're playing next." The first time they were a dude in that band! The first time a member of the opposite sex walks past all metal'd up and the whipcrack of your neck is so loud the soundguy starts checking his snare microphone... For those guys I'm thankful we had Rosies Live.