The last chord at the Astoria
London's iconic rock venue is closing next week. To mark its passing, Sam Duckworth of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly shares his memories before giving it the send-off it deserves
Friday 09 January 2009
There are loads of bands who love the Astoria; it's one of those great venues. I used to go two or three times a month. A group of us would get the train from Southend into London to see punk rock bands. Alkaline Trio were the first group I saw there, but I also saw Saves the Day, Hot Water Music, Hundred Reasons and A. As a 16-year-old, it was nice to look around and realise: "Oh, I'm not the only one who likes this kind of music." The dinginess of the walls, the stickiness of the floor – it all had that sweaty punk-rock feel to it.
We headlined the Astoria on my 21st birthday. Just playing the Astoria was bizarre. It was easily the most nervous I've ever been. We hadn't played a venue that size. It was one of the best shows we've ever done, but to be honest, my memories are not as good as they should be. I'd gone to see bands I absolutely loved there. To be playing there – even getting off the Tube and seeing "Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly" on the front – was surreal and really exciting. Everyone from Lily Allen to the Mystery Jets has taken that photo with their name on the Astoria; you see it on their MySpace pages.
There'll be a train station there in future. It's a shame to see it go. Time moves on, but where you've had a lot of memories and it's fed your musical development, it's sad. When the Hammersmith Palais closed, a lot of people of a slightly older generation than me had memories of seeing bands like The Clash there. When I have kids, I can say: "That was a venue where your dad played."
When I heard that [the club night] Manumission would be holding the closing party, it seemed strange that London's best, most-loved venue wouldn't have bands that night.
So, the previous evening, we're going to give it a send-off and people can have one last time enjoying the memories. It's a good way to get people together, raise money for charity and acknowledge this venue that's been around for so many years and played such a part in bands' development, and which hundreds of thousands of music fans have been to.
Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, The Automatic, My Vitriol, Frank Turner, The King Blues, VV Brown and more play the Astoria, London WC2 (0870 534 4444) on Wednesday 14 January. Tickets cost £6 in advance, £7 on the door; proceeds go to Love Music Hate Racism
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