By Luke Buckler
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
The time has come to bid Black Wire Records a final goodbye.
Tonight, Thursday the 27th of April, Infinite Void, Idylls, Orion, Canine and Burlap will play the Red Rattler, Marrickville, in a fitting send off for a space that is already enmeshed with warm nostalgia.
Unbelievably Bad reached out to those performing for a word on what made Black Wire such a vital institution for a city with flippant disregard for cultural expression.
Why was Black Wire the best place to play in Sydney?
Tristan (Infinite Void): Tom is a legend. And I don’t say that in a facile or flippant way. He’ll also likely recoil at me making such a statement as he’s a pretty humble person who has tended to shy from any veneration. However, what he and others involved with Black Wire have given to a scene that has had to contend with unfavorable environs is hard to overstate. Where pubs and other commercial venues in Sydney even tolerate live music, often it is with no real passion or want of nurturing music scenes. Black Wire became very much an anomaly as one of the precious few spaces for independent bands in the city away from stifling regulation and an egregious music industry. Tom’s seemingly boundless enthusiasm for bands and maintaining of the space where many of us would have become jaded or embittered arseholes speaks of his character. If they ever create one of those music walks of fame in Sydney we should dig up the stars of Peter Andre or The Presets and include him instead.
What made Black Wire different to other venues?
Billie (Idylls): From the little I could pretend to know about Australian music and venues, Black Wire was unique in the sense that it and spaces like it are depressingly rare and short-lived. For the always-too-brief time that Black Wire and similar spaces run, though, those times are always defined by the existence of that space. I often connected that uniqueness and importance to being an all-ages space, or at least a place that isn’t mediated by bar sales, but actually there are any number of things that made Black Wire so idiomatic, and other people can describe those things better than I. For interstate bands, Black Wire was a space where you were given unconditional regard and acceptance, even if you weren’t very good. I can’t state how important and rare a feeling that is for DIY bands accustomed to losing money and playing to ambivalent crowds away from home. Plenty of times, though, Black Wire has felt better than playing at home for me too, and I guess that speaks to the community that formed around it. I’m fairly hesitant about most musicians claiming entitlement to any kind of positive regard or support from anyone ever, but as a person I can say that Black Wire and spaces of its ilk have been really formative for me, and I count myself as really lucky to have had the distant and intermittent relationship to it that I did.
What will you remember best about Black Wire, and miss most about it?
(Dizzy, Orion): What I might remember best is Sistema En Decadencia playing the most intense d-beat two nights in a row on one of the hottest weekends I’ve experienced in Sydney. They still had their jackets on even though the walls were dripping in the humidity. Inhuman. What I’ll miss most is that there was a venue that was willing to host pretty much any sort of show, and where everybody felt welcome. As corny as that might sound, it was palpable. It also demonstrated that a venue could get by with very few dramas despite a fairly mixed crowd and plenty of alcohol – without coercion from managers, security guards, or any of the other bullshit. It was the anti-Sydney.
What’s your best memory of Black Wire?
Sunny (Burlap): Watching Narrow Lands with two drummers for the first time, hearing Grant Hart say, “Ooh there’s a spa,” when he saw the blow up pool out the back, post show dance parties, anytime Canine played, giving Tom a hug when he comes out for a frazzled ciggie.
Max (Burlap): I loved the album launch show. It was nice playing to a packed house on a bill with some of our favourite bands and people that we got to pick. Also it was great having a nice dinner together at Surjits beforehand.
Tom (Burlap): There’s too many great memories to count! They all kind of blend into one giant memory. Seeing some of your best mates play some of the greatest sets and becoming your new favourite band, seeing international bands that you admire, the dancing, hearing a sick riff and seeing Dean’s arms fly up. The best Burlap related memory would have to be our album launch with Whitney Houston’s Crypt, Home Burial and Cat Heaven with a Surjits dinner before.