Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The day the music died

Friday 27th February 2009 was an unremarkable day in most respects - but it saw the sounding of the death knell for two of my most prized musical institutions.

Firstly, the news broke that Nottingham's Selectadisc is to close at the end of the month. From owner Phil Barton's comments, it seems as though this day has been coming for some time: "The shop has been basically uneconomic for the last two years. We've been trying to keep it going more as a social service than as a normally functioning business. There comes a point where you just say 'I cannot do this any more.'"

That essentially nails it. The bottom line is that the store couldn't keep haemorrhaging cash, but - as I've said before elsewhere - it's always been so much more than just somewhere to buy a CD, much like Spillers Records in Cardiff. Only a couple of years ago both were named among the top twenty best independent record shops by the Guardian. That it should come to this.

While the Evening Post's Mhairi McFarlane doesn't go so far as to dance on the store's grave, she's not exactly in the mood for eulogising, rather dismissively writing it off as "one of many victims of the painful process of evolution", though I think she does have a valid central point: "The brutal truth is that not enough people – including some of those getting misty-eyed about Selecta – prized [the shop's] advantages highly enough to keep the business going." A sorry, sorry state of affairs.

And, as if that wasn't bad enough, Friday also saw the announcement that the best gig venue in Cardiff, The Point, has shut its doors for good and gone into liquidation. The statement on their website, similar in tone to Barton's comments (i.e. frustrated, despairing and bitterly disappointed), is unequivocal in attributing the root cause of the venue's demise directly to an outbreak of nimbyism last year: "we began receiving noise complaints from one or two neighbours that had moved into the new apartments that have been built next to the venue. After some difficult negotiations with the Cardiff City Council we undertook a huge amount of work to soundproof the venue in an attempt to secure its future. While that has largely been successful, the burden of the debt that we took on, together with greater restrictions in our banking facilities and more difficult trading conditions in the last few months, as well as the loss of revenue whilst the refurbishment works were undertaken, has meant we are unable to meet our current liabilities and have been left with no option but to seek voluntary liquidation."

When The Point's future was first rumoured to be under threat, I was incredulous that newcomers to the Bay could have the gall to try and shut down a venue that pre-existed their yuppie flats. Now that they've succeeded, my original sentiments still hold: "There's only one word for people like that, and it begins with a 'c'".

Cardiff's music scene will be immeasurably poorer without The Point, as Nottingham's will be without Selectadisc.

1 comment:

Del said...

Desperately sad on both points. I'll do my own obituary for Selectadisc soon. But needless to say, during my 3 years in Nottingham, it shaped my listening. Immediately, I think of a KLF rarity, Boards of Canada's debut album, Kid A, Mastercuts House compilations, and bundles of wonderful 7 and 12 inches bought from there.

As for the c's you mentioned, it's an increasing problem. In the 5 years I've been in London, the sound regulations have become ever more draconian. I've lost count of the number of times as a DJ I've been told to turn down the volume of late. Licensees are despairing, as the music is just too quiet, but the penalties are so severe they've no option but to silence the DJs and bands.

These new yuppies move into an area because it's cool and trendy and has exciting vibrant places to go out, but then strangle the life out of the place.

If you don't like noise then don't move next door to a fucking club!