I’ve just read No More Live Music in Durban on Rollingstone.co.za by Roger Young and feel my irritation fuelled by a similar situation in Observatory. Being a resident of Lower Main, quite literally (I live on it), I can’t help but admit to a slanted pro-noise predisposition, and what’s more, it’s unfair. Cut off’s before 11 some evenings, because the residents within the aural catchment radius complain vociferously and consistently. The truth is that the Armchair hosts mostly unplugged live events. Bigger bands scale down and the sound is never blistering. It’s always at respectable levels. Given that the room itself isn’t very big and the audience stands an arm’s reach away from acts, it goes to reason that the expectation extended by these neighbours must be unreasonable.
The broader context, however, remains a more pressing facet to this argument. Considering Observatory’s cultural significance, it’s legacy in churning out creative excess and the potential I see blossoming still; suburban sentiment needs to back off with its bureaucratic white noise and give it room to breathe. Artists need exposure, full reign to express themselves and our circuit needs a room like the Armchair to flourish unhindered.
Like Young points out, the problem is with official representation; local municipalities, Improvement Districts and local counsellors need to represent freak power a little more adequately. What we need is a better class of villain wearing the Arts and Culture sheriff’s badge, otherwise, before long, we’ll just be another pussified entertainment hub of coffeeshops.
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