As DiS reported on January 22nd, The Boat Race, Cambridge, is to close and the news has been greeted with a mixture of sadness and anger among the city's music community.
The Dawn Parade's Greg McDonald told DiS the closure was: "A disaster". He added "There is no equivalent in the city... The Portland Arms and The Man in the Moon put good gigs on but the Boat Race was very special. I'll miss it."
Steven Adams, frontman of The Broken Family Band, who will be the last band to play the Boat Race on January 31st, said: "It's a real shame... but mostly it sucks because little bands like us will have lost a home." Adams, whose first gig at the Boat Race was "Mike Heron from The Incredible String Band, and a local hippy band called Marmalade Panic" claimed that "Cambridge will end up with even less shows".
Richard Rose founder and editor of legendary, local fanzine R*E*P*E*A*T, warned the closure is likely to restrict the growth of new bands. Rose, who has also organized gigs at the Boat Race, said: "It means there's even less opportunity for local bands to take the next step and support slightly bigger signed bands with a slightly bigger audience (e.g. Kinesis, Jarcrew, The Applicators). There's less to aspire to."
One such local band who will be affected by the closure are The Hybrid Three, a fledgling four piece led by Tony Wood who said: "It might not be a big thing to most but a humble venue like the Boat Race is a goal for musicians starting out on the blessed road of live entertainment. It wasn't a venue for glory, riches or honor but for real music alone that none of us should ever take for granted. And yes it was the only place in Cambridge that would give us a gig!"
Maybe the Boat Race closure is a sign of the times. Tom O'Connor, of Reckless Management who represent Houston 500 and Wry, both of whom have played the Boat Race, wondered: "Is rock 'n' roll not 'cool' or 'in' enough? Cambridge is a student town. Beers were cheap at the Boat Race. Why then would those kids not pile in there to see bands, get wasted and get laid? The bands were good enough, believe me."
Many fear the Boat Race will be turned into some gentrified eatery or 'trendy' wine bar. Richard Rose claims "It's proof that profit is more important than anything else. I guess the powers that be think they can make more out of it by turning it into a brain dead theme pub for blow dried people with blow dried brains. For 10 years the Boat Race has been a place that those whose cultural interests are slightly out of kilter with the main stream have been able to feel valued and at home; no more."
So, on Saturday January 31st, the Boat Race will put on one last gig featuring The Broken Family Band, The Dawn Parade's Greg McDonald, and Right Turn Clyde among others. Boat Race manager Stan, who has remained diplomatically quite about the closure, will no doubt man the door one more time, and then the curtain will come down on a humble yet historic venue that has given hundreds of bands the chance to play, and given thousands of fans many treasured memories.