Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Farewell to Elevation Room
Ours is a city plagued with a shortage of venues, and we're about to lose another.
Elevation Room, a relatively new upstart in the city, found in the basement of Transcend's Jasper location, is shuttering. Rather, Transcend is leaving the location to focus on its other spaces, and with it goes the underground venue.
As a space, it seemed a rare overlap of perks: Elevation Room was both all-ages and licensed, didn't charge artists to use the space, only started taking a tiny cut of the door (to pay for the sound guy) recently and, Joe Gurba notes, it had the upstairs café to let people converse, while music played below.
"People come to shows for two reasons: they want to experience art, and they want to experience fellowship, I guess," Gurba, who'd been booking the room, offers. "And so the two usually conflict, because if you're trying to talk to someone and music's playing, or rather you're trying to listen to music and someone's talking ... that problem didn't exist at the Elevation Room. People could talk upstairs and get their drinks upstairs, and that whole part could happen up there. And downstairs people could watch shows."
Gurba notes the financial viability of the space wasn't an issue; after a booming debut and a somewhat shaky summer, it had settled into a comfortable rhythm of well-attended shows. He chalks the slow summer up to his own booking, relying on Wunderbar regulars more than crafting a new audience around the space.
"Elevation Room didn't have time to cultivate its own community that just came to shows because it was there," he says. "Whereas Wunderbar totally had that, and I was booking the kinds of bands that would play there. So if I was a person who had to choose between going to two shows, I'm going to go to the place I feel familar with, that's in my neighbourhood."
Once he started drawing in acts less frequently seen, Gurba saw his audiences grow in accordance.
Will another space spring up in the aftermath of Elevation Room? Possibly, though Gurba notes that even if it does, it'll likely be under a new name.
"I think the key to live music, and why it's important, is that it actually exists in time and space," he says. "I approach this very philosophically: I think we're alienated from one-another by capitalism. I think we have to access nature through our wages, and our wages are in the hands of other people, and things aren't obviously as bad as they were in Victorian England, but we do have to compete with one another. And I think that art is this really magical place, much like education or religion or anything else that can escape the relationship of money: if you can be in a place where you can connect with other humans, without that as a mediator, but just as two human beings experiencing art in the same place at the same time, then you are alleviating this alienation.
"What I think is that community is the only real morality, in my opinion," he continues. "In my opinion, all things that are conducive to community are morally good. And live music is very conducive to that. That's why, for me, it very much exists in space. So if you move the space, change the name, you make it a new space. "
To give the space that was Elevation Room a proper send off, Gurba's giving it a farewell hurrah: its final show will include sets by Ghost Cousin, Tyler Butler, Doug Hoyer and Gurba himself.
"It's all people who've worked to make that place possible," he says. "All those people have done something at some point to keep that place going in its downstairs capacity. If any of the baristas played, I'd get them too."
Wed, Feb 27 (8 pm)
With The Joe, Doug Hoyer,
Ghost Cousin, Tyler Butler
admission by donation
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