The Melbourne music scene has suddenly lost another live music venue, with news that The Empress Hotel has abruptly closed its doors and cancelled all forthcoming gigs booked at the inner-city venue.
The pub, located at the corner of Nicholson Street and Pigdon Street in Fitzroy North, is a regular host of live music and local bands but failed to open for business on Tuesday (17th December) afternoon with patrons arriving to find the venue was closed and its doors locked as late as 5pm, as TheMusic reports.
The only explanation for the abrupt closure comes from venue booker Zen Mejglo, who cited the closure was due to “family” and “personal reasons” of the owner, Sandra Eunson, adding that The Empress will remain shut for the indefinite future.
A post written on the venue booker’s own Facebook page also confirmed the cancellation of all upcoming gigs at the venue.
“Bad News I’m afraid folks. All gigs at The Empress Hotel have been cancelled. The pub has shut! I don’t have anymore information at the moment and I don’t as if yet know what has happened. Sadly, we won’t get to hear any of the great musicians and bands we had planned for the week. Sorry Folks!” reads the post.
Performances booked at The Empress for this week included gigs from The Dark Ales, The Ears, The Hondas, and a show tonight from Claire Birchall (with Matt Gleeson and Don Rogers), but all shows have been cancelled, excluding the possibility of new venues.
The Empress, which has long been a stalwart of Melbourne’s live music scene, was one of the first venues to face issues over noise complaints from neighbouring residents over half a decade ago, ahead of it becoming a major sticking point in recent years.
Despite the sudden closure, The Empress’ owner, Sandra Eunson, says that noise complaints are not to blame for the venue’s imminent shutdown.
The Empress also played a part in this year’s Leaps And Bounds festival, celebrating Melbourne’s Northside live music culture through a series of curated events and gigs.
Following its inaugural success City of Yarra Council have approved the return of Leaps And Bounds for 2014, pumping in nearly double the budget – approximately $80,000 – towards the festival. Council have also approved an “in-principle support” for the push to establish a fund to help pay for costly soundproofing of live music venues, to help prevent noise complaints and legal tussles between licensees and residents.
The proposal comes from Labor councillor Simon Huggins as a result of the recent battle over Collingwood’s Bendigo Hotel. In light of the threat to the venue, Cr Huggins says that council should be supporting Yarra’s live music scene; “I want to set up a program for established venues to assist them make necessary modifications.”
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