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Bar Blu, Rhyl


(review n pix by neil crud)

From being one of the first to play at Bar Blu, to being possibly the last, Jives Room walked off, or were kicked off the stage 4 songs into their set after being continually told to turn the sound down by the management. This meant Gintis also made a stand and refused to play and could quite well deal a hammer blow to the venue who received complaints from neighbouring residents a few weeks ago over the volume.
This is a statement made by Steve Rastin of Blood & Lipstick promotions on my Message Board last night:

It was inevitable that what happened at Blu tonight was going to happen sooner or later.
Unfortunately the initial fallout has seen blame being thrown around, when the bottom line is that the needs of the bands and the requirements of the venue are fundamentally at odds with each other at this moment in time.
The venue has been hit with complaints about sound levels and has had to comply with the recommendations made by acoustic engineers who monitored the venue several weeks ago.
This has basically meant pegging noise volume in compliance with the recommendations - failure to do so would have risked the closure of Blu, not just on a Wednesday but completely.
The vocals were going through the PA and were controlled by the sound engineer and without exception the guitarists and bass players were setting their levels in accordance with the vocal levels and so there was no problem there.
The trouble was inevitably coming from the drumkits and as far as I can tell it is going to be an ongoing problem - it's occurred for the last three weeks which suggests to me that it is a percussive problem rather than the fault of individual drummers and seems to be compounded by the number of mics in use as they are picking up the drum sound - hence the fact that Jive's Room (3 mics) had the problems that they had while Sonic State (1 mic, handheld) were relatively untroubled.
Acoustically Blu is a wooden box with nothing to absorb sound and prevent it from bouncing around and I suspect that this is at the very heart of the matter.
There isn't a cat in hell's chance of the venue ignoring the complaints and hoping that they'll go away and I suspect that there's no real desire on the part of bands to be stuck with the choice of playing at a level that they are uncomfortable with or having the plugs pulled on them.
The obvious solution would be for Blu to be totally soundproofed but that would inevitably be a massive expense that in all probability the owners are not happily going to incur.
Unfortunately, failure to do so is going to lead inevitably to more friction between the bands and those of us trying to organise the gigs which, after years of nurturing good relations with bands, is certainly not something I am prepared to consider.
I don't know if there are any other solutions but the options I see are these:
i) Carry on making the best of a bad situation with a diminishing number of bands willing to play at Blu - Jive's Room, Gintis, Junebug and Modern Tradition have all already said that they won't play at Blu again - and hope that the owners invest in a long-term solution.
ii) Walk away from the situation completely and return to small scale pub gigs only.
iii) Take the operation to a new venue - I've been offered Metro on Monday nights and the venue has a 10k rig installed.
iv) Operate at Metro but continue to stage gigs at Blu perhaps as a "feeder" venue.
Obviously the third option would seem to be very attractive but Blu has established a regular crowd and the management gave us a venue at a time when no-one else wanted to know.
I'd appreciate the opinions of the bands and the audience because for all its faults Blu has provided that weekly platform for emerging talent and it is something that they should be given credit for and not something that should be given up lightly.

To have run for 18 months as it has on a Wednesday night is remarkable in itself. This is Rhyl we’re talking about; a traditionally non-scene town over the last 2 decades that suddenly became the place to play. Talk of The Metro has been through the rumour mill all year & this is perhaps the kick start it needs to get going, although you’re going to be pushed to fill an 800 capacity venue in Rhyl on any night! And without discrediting Steve Rastin or the bands he has jockeying to play there, they are not going to pull half that number.
Mansun’s ‘Wide Open Space’ would be the most fitting song in that place!
The room upstairs at The Metro is a better bet & use the larger one for those special nights when Placebo do a warm up for their next tour! This would be a far better option for those larger bands (Doves, Supergrass etc) who have played the acoustically dead Conference Centre in Llandudno.
And you could possibly get MASE involved who could hold their monthly band nights there, again instead of, or as well as Llandudno.

So poor Sonic State – venue problems seem to follow them around! This has gotta be the 5th, maybe 6th time they’ve trundled up to Rhyl to play & their spot on performance could well have been forgotten amid all the anger, disappointment & confusion that ensued. Fortunately for them they went on first; cos a couple of months ago they turned up to play in Offas Tavern in Prestatyn to find the venue double booked with a bleedin’ christening & had to go home & the last time they played in Blu it was awash with feedback.
So they got to play & we got to see them put out the best china and silverware to give us a top class performance. (Was that a new bassist?). Rastin commented he’d like to see them play thru a 10k rig & he’s right, as the PA here was in constant turmoil trying to battle along the threshold of feeding back and giving us a decent sound. Sonic State, after the opening song got a great sound & the front girl looks the part, does the part, is the part, giving us an entertaining performance like a less threatening Cici (Wishing Hour) in union jack doc martens!
I’d really like to do something in the studio with this band, so next time you’re due to put out a demo, please gimme a shout!

It seemed to be going well & we were pretty excited about seeing Jives Room & Gintis, the latter of whom were launching their debut EP ‘Supersoakers & Megadrives Broke These Li’l Hearts’ (on Slacyr Records). Gintis played in Manchester Uni last Monday & when I asked as to how the gig went, Carl Gintis replied;
’Err… we were slightly drunk.’ What he actually meant was they had a free bar provided by the venue, which had to be closed as the band had drunk £140’s worth of alcohol before they went on!!
Jives Room haven’t rehearsed for 4 months & played last week to 15 people with Carpet at The Morville, but tonight was buzzing with people & we were all in agreement that they’re probably the best live band in Rhyl at present.
We still agreed as they kicked into their set proper with that Welsh number, after Kyal had given us an acoustic version of Oasis’ Married With Children (I think). Tonight was unofficially dubbed as Gingerstock, with reference to Kyal’s remarkably thick red curly hair & he did ask us why we weren’t wearing our ginger mirkins.
Having been asked to turn down the sound a number of times the band stopped after 4 songs and tempers began to fray. The accusations that they were asked to stop playing or they stopped playing in protest will go on, but the fact remains that the bands & the scene have now outgrown a venue unwilling or unable due to the cost to invest in them. Wednesday nights in the future at Blu will possibly see one barmaid not 5 or 6, the doormen will be watching TV at home & the kids will stray elsewhere.
Very sad.

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