Boomgates + Super Wild Horses + Per Purpose @ Woodland, 07.05.2011

My first trip to Woodland last year (to see sixfthick) was really enjoyable and I had high hopes for the new venue.  However, in the last 6 or so months I’ve found myself disliking the place more and more.  It’s no big issue really, I mean I don’t like loads of the venues in Brisbane for one reason or another, but here is my Six Step Guide to Improving Woodland.

1.  Tell the truth about set times

Woodland has a Facebook Fan page and always puts up the set times for the bands.  it might not be until the day of the gig but they’re always publicised.  The problem is that they’re never correct.  For tonight’s gig the set times have been listed as starting at 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30.  Rushing to get there on time for Per Purpose, there’s an A4 sheet stuck on the door to the venue that has everyone playing 15 minutes later than had been advertised on Facebook earlier in the day.  It’s annoying but it’s only 15 minutes really isn’t it?

2. Make the bands at least try to stick to set times

Per Purpose start and end just about on time.  Super Wild Horses don’t start setting up until almost the time that they’re about to start and by the time they’ve done that and sound-checked they don’t start their set until almost 11:05pm.  Now we’re another 20 minutes behind the revised set times, 35 minutes behind the original times published on Facebook. As a result, Boomgates don’t start until almost 12:05am and by the time they finish it’s after 12:35am.

This just isn’t a one off at Woodland though, it happens every time.  There’s so sense of urgency, no one seems to be enforcing set times, the bands seem to be left to their own devices and it’s all very laissez-faire.   Much like the Deadshits #2 night, when there was a huge gap between Assassins88 and Holy Balm, despite all their equipment being set up on stage, it’s annoying as there seems to be no reason for it.  It’s not like the delays are because of sound or technical issues.  It seems to be just a general slackness on behalf of the bands and no one pointing at their watch and cracking the whip to hurry them along.

3.  If people don’t respect your venue you should make them

At some point between Per Purp0se finishing and Super Wild Horses starting, an obviously really drunk guy staggers to the table next to where I’m sat and vomits on the floor right in front of me.  Although it’s very watery and there’s still a load of bile hanging off his chin, it’s one of the most vile things I’ve seen in a live music venue ever.  The girl in the couple sat next me is so amazed she even has to ask me if she just saw what she thought she had.  Drunk guy then proceeds to boast to his mates how he did shots at the bar and has vomited three times between the bar and the table.  Then he starts play fighting by punching his mates really hard in the shoulders and punching himself in the face.  It’s hard to tell if it’s going to spill over into something more serious.  A few minutes later a security guard comes over and sits at the opposite end of the bench from where I’m sat and looks like he’s talking to drunk guy; I can’t really see properly from where I’m sat.  After a couple of minutes he gets up and walks off; I can’t be sure but there’s doesn’t seem to be anyone being escorted from the premises.  I don’t think it’s behavior that would be tolerated at The Zoo or would have been at The Troubadour.  When getting a drink at the bar a bit later, the whole area just stinks of vomit.

Woodland is also the venue where the most drinks seem to be dropped and smashed on the floor.  There always seems to be one of the bar staff wandering around the venue with a mop and a torch to check the floor for spillages and glass.

4.  Hang the DJ

One of the most annoying aspects about a night out at Woodland is the DJ.  It’s nothing personal; it’s not the DJs themselves or their playlists.  It’s just that I wake up the morning after every night I spend at Woodland and my ears are still ringing.  When you combine the bands and the DJ you’re getting over 3 hours of extreme and relentless volume every time you go to a gig there.  Sure, I could go and stand outside (so long as I don’t take my drink) but I don’t really want to stand in a tiny and grimy back alley courtyard with all the smokers.

It’s noticeable that between bands everyone goes and stands at the back of the room.  It’s not just because it’s next to the bar, it’s because it’s the place furthest away from the speakers and the only place in the room where you can even try to talk to someone and be able to hear what they say.

I’ve never been able to fathom why more venues don’t put on bands earlier and then turn into a club night later on.  It’s really common in UK venues but doesn’t seem to happen much in Australia as far as I can see.  But DJs after the bands not between them.

5.  Have the bands on earlier

Yes, that personal favourite of mine once again.  Woodland is far and way the worst culprit when it comes to Brisbane’s venues.

Tonight’s gig was one of the last before I move from a 20 minute walk from the Valley out into the suburbs.  My options from next week will be to either get the train in and back or drive.  If I drive I won’t be drinking so you’ll not be getting any money over the bar from me.  If I get the train, the last train back to Salisbury on a Saturday night is at 12:25am.  If the headline band doesn’t start playing until after midnight I will get to see maybe a maximum of 15 minutes of them before I need to leave and get the train home.  And that’s if the bands actually play on time (see #2).  Am I going to bother coming out for 15 minutes of the headline band?

Brisbane needs to get over itself when it comes to this stupid notion that everything needs to be open 24 hours in order for it to be a major city rather than a small country town and no one will take it seriously unless you can get a drink at 5am.  It also needs to realise that there is a huge difference between a music scene and drinking culture.  Before Brisbane can even start to think about having a nightlife that goes on all night it needs to address its public transport infrastructure.  When I was at university and I would go to gigs in Newcastle (the UK version, nor the NSW city), gigs were all over by 10:30pm.  It wasn’t a lot different when I lived in Birmingham or London.  When I was in Paris in December I went and saw Sarah Blasko play on a Saturday night and the gig was over by 10:15pm.  London and Paris have transport networks cities in Australia can only dream about and yet they don’t need to put bands on at stupidly late times that mean anyone who doesn’t live in the inner city either has to make the decision whether to miss part of the headline act they’ve presumably paid to see or queue up and pay an exorbitant amount for a taxi home.  Or they could just not bother going to the gig in the first place.

Gigs in some of the world’s major cities take account of the fact that people need to get home afterwards and Brisbane really needs to do this.

6.  Have less overzealous security guards on the front gate

Every time I go to Woodland I come out the venue and briefly pause to make sure my camera bag is closed properly and to get my iPod out for the walk home.  Every time, without fail, the security guard on the gate starts shouting at me that I can’t stop and need to move.  I would have done it inside the venue but putting my bag on the floor to do this risks putting it in split drinks or vomit (see #3).  I don’t really want to do this in the middle of the pavement in full view of everyone on Ivory Street.  I may be completely wrong about this (and am happy to be corrected) but Coniston Lane has a Brisbane City Council road sign, complete with a BCC logo on it, it’s not sign-posted as a private road.  As far as I know it’s a public road and Woodland’s staff don’t have the same powers as the police do to move me on.  Vomiting several times on the floor inside the venue seems to be ok, pausing momentarily in the lane outside the venue gets you yelled at.

When the bands got around to playing they were all pretty good.  And I really love this photo set.  It’s the best set I’ve taken in a while and it was hard to even cut it down to the 21 photos on show.

3 Responses to “Boomgates + Super Wild Horses + Per Purpose @ Woodland, 07.05.2011”

  1. Darragh says:

    On the money for the most part. Even at Skuzz, I noted the vomit smell at the bar.

  2. Luke says:

    Great post! I’ve never been to Woodland, but this guide would help improve a lot of music venues in Brisbane. Especially having the bands on earlier.

    Good point about volume levels as well. And security guards—not a good start to be interrogated instead of welcomed.

  3. Charles says:

    Totally agree with #1 and #2, and would also like to add that they never open when they say they do! Perhaps I am overzealous in my gig goin’, but I got there once at 8:30 (perfectly reasonable time to expect a joint to be open, so I can go in and have a beer and get comfortable with the surroundings), but didn’t open for at least another 20 or so minutes. Not that much, but kinda annoying. At least they’ve angled the speakers down toward the crowd now, which has improved the sound by a HUGE margin. Thankfully I didn’t see that spew. Man, that is fucked up. Brisbane’s drinking culture frustrates me…

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