The Lansdowne Hotel has always been synonymous with Sydney’s live music scene but after a fire ripped through the premises back in January the owners were forced to temporarily close their doors.
Now, though, the venue is rising from the ashes with some impressive renovations, a space for live music, a funky diner and a new weekly program. Clayton Ries is back onboard to help propel the venue’s live music back to its former glory. He dropped us a line to let us know all about what’s going on at the new Lansdowne.
Music Feeds: Hey, Clayton, thanks for taking the time to chat. We’re stoked to hear that The Lansdowne Hotel is returning its sorely missed presence to Sydney’s live music scene! Can you tell us how you and Moonshine Productions came to be involved?
Clayton Ries: I had been the booker of entertainment for the past two years but stopped in December 2012. In the time that I was there we had turned around the Lansdowne – bringing in some amazing artists, beginning to make waves in the Australian music scene, having Rufus and The Laurels play a number of times to help grow their fan base.
When The Lansdowne came back after the fire, they didn’t have live music for a number of reasons, even though they had always planned to bring it back. Once it was time to hit the green light, they contacted myself to curate the entertainment program for the venue and work on the marketing of all events, as the general Manager understands live music breaths deep in the history of the venue.
MF: What kind of events and venues have you been involved with in the past, and what insights have you taken from these experiences and injected into the Lansdowne?
CR: I have been involved in The Gaelic Club. I helped bring back live music including Primal Scream to Selina’s at Coogee Bay Hotel, worked on FBi Social and a number of other venues while I worked at Select Music. I have a varied history with events as I worked with the Festival Of The Sun crew in establishing that event, as well as experiential events around different venues and products.
MF: The Lansdowne had a rep for being a pretty grungy kind of venue. Has the vibe changed?
CR: The renovations after the fire have taken a different path of the grungy venue it has been since opening its doors many decades ago. The renovations have given it life, with a warehouse feeling on the ground floor allowing people to come in and socialise like it is a common area in a shared house. This will continue to build as we will have free WiFi available very soon, allowing people to come in to study or just do some work in a different space.
MF: We understand you’re having one hell of a relaunch celebration this Friday night. Do you have any surprises in store?
CR: Lansdowne Live launch is a night that has been put together to show all the different capabilities of the venue. Being able to do an open mic showcase through different areas of the room, utilising the stage for bands or a DJ set up, and now we have added the swing crew Jump Jive to take over level 1. Added to the entertainment is the fact we will be doing $9 jugs of beers and $12 jugs of cocktails, plus you can grab a cheap eat from the Phoenix Diner.
The night has all forms of entertainment and all different types of genres. This will showcase the weekly program of The Lansdowne in one night. Lansdowne Live will then become the regular Friday night at The Lansdowne.
MF: You’ve had quite a few bands come through since the start of October. What can we expect on the music program in the coming weeks?
CR: Its a slow, hard process to get things going again from scratch, but with the help from other people and businesses, The Lansdowne is gaining momentum again with strong acts. Already we have had Step-Panther and The Beards. Now just announced is the fact that we have Set Sail doing a residency in November, monthly reggae sessions, All The Colours, APES, plus an exciting residency for December that will be announced next week.
MF: Let’s not forget the pub grub, which seems to be a big feature at the new Lansdowne. Can you tell us a bit about the Phoenix Diner?
CR: The Phoenix Diner is a major drawcard to the venue, with $9 lunch special from 12:00pm – 4:00pm every day. The food itself is based on an American diner menu – tasty and interesting, all the meals having a little bit of flair. There are some plates to share and pizzas to devour… And each night we have $10 specials you can come and check out as well.
MF: Sydney’s live music scene has been through some turbulent times in recent years. Do you think The Lansdowne reopening as a live music venue can inject some life into the party, maybe even have a long-term impact?
CR: The Lansdowne has its own place in the music scene, being a venue that can run free events or ticketed events. It is now not only a space for grassroots artist, but also for artists that want to come back and sell out a 350 capacity room. This will no doubt give bands and artist the ability to bring out their fans and followers and watch them perform.
The Lansdowne and its entertainment program is a long-term project, but looking for some short-term successes to establish a strong culture of music from the start.
MF: Lastly, what’s your future vision for The Lansdowne?
CR: The vision for The Lansdowne is to create a social hub for live music fans and artists, as well as uni students – a place where people can come for a chat or study during the day, a place to watch live music before going out and a place for people to stay and call it their own.
We want it to be an easy choice for artists to come and play at and for punters to come eat and drink.
Lansdowne Live officially launches TONIGHT, kicking off at 6pm, featuring Gay Paris, Fox Company and more!
Friday, October 18th
Lansdowne Hotel, 2-6 City Road, Chippendale
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