THE MARQUEE – Camperdown Sydney
No 3 in the hard right hand turn of life and venues off we go!
“The Marquee Rocks! Was actually the website address.
The club itself pre us. A Latin cabaret club ( now empty) with an unusual liquor licence.
It had a night club license with a 3am close.
Simply awesome. Rare as hens teeth then.
Previous to that.
The Marquee. A legendary rock band venue from the 80’s and very early 90s.
Leaving Bar Broadway behind me to die a miserable death in the hands of its miserable new owners and music killers
I along with a fellow band manager built and operated a rehearsal studio for bands. It was an interesting business exercise. My management business was rocking along .
Had some consultancy work coming in. The studio kept my network hat in the ring and was generally a good place to have an office again.
Sometime in after starting that.
The licensee/ General Manager from Bar Broadway Id mentioned was a driving force?
He called me out of the blue.
With a rather an intriguing offer. He had a site we could take on.
No money down.
A very informal deal with the owners.
We pay them rent and do our thing. Run a live band venue. Sell alcohol, Make money. What could go wrong? I mean really? What could possibly go wrong right?
So, we did the deal.
Jumped in boots and all. We didn’t really have any money so everything we did was on a budget. We called in every favour we had to get the place going.
It was a 400 sqm rock in roll beast of a club that after we rejigged the inside.
Had a stage area . Loud as fuck PA and concert light can system at one end of the room.
A bar down one side. A couple of pool tables and an area to sell merch at the opposite end of the space.
It was burgundy red on the inside with concert cans lighting walls in the downlight position and best of all cages for the dancers. And a carpark.
When I say we did this on a budget? It was tight. The first performing stage was a temporary loner and the carpet that covered the stage we collected for free from a closing down swingers club in paramatta.
(Incidentally, The closing swingers club?. It had the biggest spa Id ever seen and an open flame barbeque to cook food on while the patrons were swinging I assume. I shudder to think?)
However, the carpet was perfect for our stage. The bands that chose to perform bare footed on there I never had the heart to tell them where the carpet had been?!
We painted the inside. Re built the bar all in a couple of weeks.
Now? I’d thought myself an on to it business operator. Always perused due diligence pre anything.
However? what I hadn’t done here was put 2 and 2 together.
The hook up for the venue came as mentioned from the GM from Bar Broadway and my new joint venture partner , whom I was totally fine with.
I mean I knew he was Italian. He yelled a lot when he talked .
I knew, he knew the venue owners and Id meet them on several occasions.
I knew they were Italians. What I didn’t know was they were Sicilians. !
Our deal was loose Yes. But?
Ill come back to how loose later on somewhere along the way.
By this point in the journey we had a lot of musical friends. We had been a positive force in the rise of many local acts via our past venue escapades. But this venue was ours lock stock and barrel and everyones to enjoy.
Opening night was rushing at us. We had mostly everything sorted other than the stage light rig wasn’t competed. Nor did we have a band for the night.
We needed to open with a bang!
So I phoned a friend. ?
Maybe 12 months earlier when I was still in Bar Broadway.
A promoter I’d worked with a lot in the punk band scene.
Not the Sex pistols punk band scene where id grown up.
But the new current one. He called me.
Arranged a Sunday night gig for a band he wanted to bring in from Adelaide. A Hip-Hop band none the less.
He called me as he knew I was one of the few venue guys actively promoting Australian Hip Hop in our Venues.
I mean it was aussie kids emulating american rap with aussie lyrics and beat boy crews. But it was cool!
I really liked it. So, we programmed a show with a couple of local crews and the Adelaide guys in the middle slot.
I stood in the room that night with the guy that brought them to Sydney for their first ever show.
My thoughts Immediately. I just saw Australian Hip Hop ramp up a lot of gears. These guys were great. Totally fresh. We hung out that night afterwards. Had a few drinks. Made friends.
Never saw them again until I needed a favour, they’d offered on the first night I met them over drinks.
I called them direct. Asked them if they’d motor up to Sydney and open The Marquee for us?
I knew they had gotten bigger in a short space of time.
Id been watching and listening. I simply hadn’t realized how big.? The cool thing when I asked. No hesitation.
” It was yep! we’ll be there.” And boy were they in full flight?! And hell! Had they crafted their chops.
And the audience that night. Up for it! From doors open 7pm . We had a line snaking round the carpark 3 times extending out the drive and down the main drag for 500 metres.
We squeezed the venue tight as a nuns – – – – that night with people.
I’d say. The venue hadn’t had that many people in it since its original inception as The Marquee when Faith No More played there.
Anyways. It was a massive opening for us We got to meet all our Neighbours – The Local Police – The city police- The Service station owners over the road realized they needed to stock a lot more ciggies and bags of ice in their cooler now we’d arrived.
The venue up the road instead of viewing us as a good thing. Immediately went on the defensive
The council was up our arse on the Monday following the opening with a huge WTF?
Your supposed to tell us your opening!
“Are We?’ ooops Sorry. I never will ever follow the rules if I can help it and I love controled mayhem.
The taggers in the audience that night had hit a few walls on the way home with a couple of lovely Tags and on the sides of a metal back truck. I did feel a little sorry for that one. They’d literally re coloured the whole truck
The owners of the building thought they’d hit a gold mine with us.
But above all. We’d wreaked havoc in true rock in roll style and everyone knew we were back!
We’d chucked a lot of TVS out the hotel window that night
And The Hill Top Hoods that night took us, the audience we managed to squeeze in , and the whole of Hip Hop Sydney totally by surprise!
And firmly stamped their claim just how good a band they were and would be to this day.
More to come!!!!