Fortitude Valley has always been a hive for live music with community radio station 4ZZZ a definitive catalyst in Brisbane’s original live scene.
Many bands including The Saints, The Riptides and The Go-Betweens would establish a unique environment for independent alternative music to flourish. Artists from Custard, Powderfinger, Regurgitator, George, The Grates, Evil Eddie, Resin Dogs, Pete Murray, Screamfeeder and The Boat People have all left their mark on Brisbane as well as the rest of the world.
However, a fertile environment is nothing without the garden. Without live venues to display such talent, our bands would have nowhere to perform, to inspire and be inspired. Brisbane has been distinctly fortunate with a rich history of live venues including Festival Hall, The Roxy, The Tivoli and Cloudland notable spots across the years. And while time and urbanisation has managed to swallow most of these places, The Zoo, Ric’s, The Press Club, X&Y, The Joynt, Black Bear Lodge and The Hi-Fi still remain at the core of our live music scene. Though The Valley is the heart of nightclubs and DJs come Friday and Saturday night, it’s the soul to live bands for the rest of the week. And Boom Entertainment and The Fans Group will add a bit more sparkle to the scene by bringing back The Rev.
The old Fortitude Valley Presbyterian Church has seen many a change since its foundations were laid over 130 years ago. It was designed by Irish-born Richard Gailey, architect also to The Regatta, The Elephant & Wheelbarrow (now Elephant Arms), The Empire and The Orient. A distinctive love for finely detailed arches supported by masonry walls proved both agreeable and practical for Brisbane – not to mention also aesthetically thrilling on the ear in brilliantly carrying sound. During the 1990s, Warner Street became a hub of music, with jazz and blues site The Healer and The Rev bastions to Brisbane’s live music, forming a golden triangle of sound with The Zoo. When The Rev closed in 2006, live music appeared somewhat tenuous. But while the government and 3am lockout have done all they can to agitate the foundations of the music scene, original live music continues to flourish.
With The Rev now under the care of The Fans Group and Boom Entertainment, this will prove a major boost to the entertainment precinct, with Triple J darlings San Cisco helping to herald in a new era this Sunday, with a plethora of live gigs to follow over the coming months. While The Church will stay home to DJs on Friday and Saturday nights, the doors will open from Sunday to Thursday evenings regularly for live bands. After renovations to The Church, Boom Entertainment promises that “the sound system is state of the art and equipped with intelligent lighting, while still allowing for patrons to move freely through the venue without missing the action on stage”.
During its prime, The Rev was a host to star performers. Alice Russell wowed Brisbane with a voice full of sass for Quantic Soul Orchestra and backed by Melbourne’s The Bamboos. Infusion memorably released their 2004 album ‘Six Feet Above Yesterday’. Washington DC’s royalty in downtempo sounds The Thievery Corporation pummeled the walls. K-Oscillate bought their unique brand of live drum & bass to the stage. The Avalanches toured their Brains nightclub concept here and Grandmaster Roc Raida showed Brisbane what turntablism really meant. The Presidents Of The USA, Sunk Loto, Faker, Van She, The Valentinos and Bliss N Eso all left their mark with unforgettable performances, marking The Rev as a Brisbane icon.
For The Rev’s former venue manager Jason Kinniburgh, the memories of the Warner St venue still burn brightly with one particular highlight being Coco Rosie. “We had to winch a grand piano on stage and wrestle with harps!” Jason also recalls: “Everything from live sets with Regurgitator, Sage Francis, The Drones, Jeff Lang, Def Wish Cast, Lyrical Commission, to DJ sets from !uestlove [The Roots], Kid Koala, Calyx and Krust & Die. It was also home to many great local acts — from the who’s who of Brisbane hip hop with Katch, Resin Dogs and Miss Brown. Great jazz, funk, soul, roots, reggae acts like Afro Dizzi Act, Kaftka and Kooii, and rock acts like Intercooler and Giants of Science.
“The Rev was also the mid week HQ of the local hardcore scene, with seminal bands like The Amity Affliction honing their craft. I was aiming for total underground music variety with an emphasis on original live music, but also accepting of future thinking live electronica. The current live scene is thriving despite the current economic situation, and we could always use more venues.”
San Cisco christen the new era of The Rev this Sunday December 9 before THE Call The Cops XMAS PARTY WITH DZ DEATHRAYS, YACHT CLUB DJS AND BLEEDING KNEES CLUB ON Thursday December 13.