So I’ve been to a few gigs at Oxford Street’s The Standard in my time and I’ve always thought it seemed a little off among other venues that focus on local bands and small internationals (think Parquet Courts or Wavves). The black walled, beer stained main room is especially strange in contrast to the cocktail / balcony bar directly below it, and it’s far too big a space for local bands to sell out. It’s open upstairs plan makes it seem empty and awkward, even when the venue is at 50% capacity. It’s a venue that isn’t sure what it wants to be, but heck, in Sydney we take what we can get when it comes to creative spaces.
Last month, the venue announced that it would be renovating the upstairs section to create The Standard Bowl. The press release states that as of this month the venue will be evolving from a ticketed live music venue to, and I quote… “Grungy hybrid of ten pins and free live music”. The CEO Paddy Coughlan goes on to say “We have an unwavering commitment to live music and unique spaces, and preferably live music in unique spaces. It seems only natural to create a grungy, industrial-looking bowling alley with a cool bar that offers free live music.” Make of that what you will.
This decision could make The Standard the Vegemite of Sydney venues – you’ll either love it or hate it. I mean, it’s a pretty cool gimmick as far as gimmicks go, and if it supports a venue that is struggling to make cash purely on ticket sales – good on ’em. The flip side seems more worrisome – bowling alleys are noisy places, surely in conflict with the live sonic aesthetic, especially if you’re like me and you go to a gig to see the band rather than to be seen. I’m also afraid that the decision to renovate in such a way might further gentrify music spaces in the CBD – look at places like Frankies Pizza, The Soda Factory and to a lesser extent Goodgod Small Club. Will this place be a live venue with a bar and a bowling alley or will it become like the aforementioned restaurant/bar/cocaine hangouts and put live music on the backburner?
Whether or not my worst fears eventuate, the venue will certainly be one to check out, especially if you have warm memories of your parents buying you a birthday package at AMF bowling to passively compete with the other parents at your primary school. For those of you who are non-bowlers, now might be the time to pick up a new hobby…
We don’t yet have an opening date, but Happy will keep you updated on all the latest from the venue. If you don’t trust us (and why would you, this news is like 2 weeks old!) then check out the Standard’s Facebook for all upcoming news, gigs and whatnot.
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