Read an Op-Ed on Sydney's Lockout laws from Deep Sea Arcade's Nic McKenzie

Read an Op-Ed on Sydney's Lockout laws from Deep Sea Arcade's Nic McKenzie

The group are gearing up for a big Australian tour early next year.

Deep Sea Arcade, under the guidance of founding members Nic McKenzie and Nick Weaver, have been a mainstay of the Australian music scene for a number of years now. First releasing their standout debut LP Outlands in 2012, a couple of weeks back they released its excellent follow-up, Blacklight, a "fusion of soul, electronic and disco," according to McKenzie.

They'll be celebrating its release with a huge Aussie tour early next year, and McKenzie sent us a small Op-Ed on the current state of play in regards to Sydney's archaic lockout law situation, offering that there are some positives to be found amidst a generally shitty situation. Take a read below and check that full run of dates down the bottom:

The lockouts have done extraordinary damage to the Kings Cross, Central Sydney live-music scene, but there have been some positive unintended consequences. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the losses have been dramatic: “Figures from Liquor & Gaming NSW show 418 licensed premises had closed in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross since 2014, while 242 small bar and on premises licenses were granted.”

This amounts to a net loss of 176 venues across the central region of Sydney. In Darlinghurst, The Midnight Shift, The Exchange Hotel, Backroom, the Bourbon and Trademark closed, while other venues have taken on new business models that steer away from late-night trade. This sudden blow of lockout laws gave emerging musicians and creatives little space to move when it came to performing and honing their craft in central Sydney, and they were forced to move further afield, hence a large migration from Surry Hills, Redfern and Darlinghurst to the more forgiving (read ‘No Lockout Laws’) streets of Enmore, Newtown, Marrickville, Dulwich Hill and Tempe, allowing a new local artistic community to flourish, and this has been a good thing.

With Keep Sydney Open very quickly taking a real stand and uniting live-music lovers against the lockout laws, the opportunity opened up for already established events such as Visions to grow, and new ones to emerge. Visions, showcasing known bands and emerging talent
such as Gum, Nicholas Allbrook, Kirin J Calinan, The Preatures, Julia Jacklin, Stella Donnelly and Polish Club. New events such as Volumes, The Ladies Network, YMO Projects and many others, have all managed to survive and thrive.

Venues such as The Landsdowne, The Lord Gladstone, The Botany View, The Lady Hampshire and Waywards have all embraced local creative workers with some owners such as Paddy (We are Bourke Street), allowing artists and musicians to live and work above the hotel premises. Deep Sea Arcade’s recent album Blacklight and DMA’s For Now, were in parts tracked in a studio above The Lady Hampshire. The Music and Booze Co. have created festivals such as Bad Friday and The King Street Crawl. The King Street Crawl has been held successfully for four years, and been a groundbreaking chance for live-music and a sense of community, revitalising artists and venues alike.

Despite the positive consequences there is still plenty to be done, and this has been recognised by Keep Sydney Open and the City of Sydney.

Unfortunately the NSW Government’s lockout laws were a huge blunt weapon to Sydney’s live music scene and Sydney’s night life and night time economy, when what was needed instead was something evidence-based and considered so as to retain interesting differences, as well as keeping people safe.

In the near future, together, we have to decide what kind of city we want to live in rather than having it arbitrarily imposed on us by state government.


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