A hopeful message has appeared on the front signage of the beloved Lansdowne Hotel on the corner across from Victoria Park: "NEW MANAGEMENT, LIVE MUSIC IS HERE TO STAY."
There were fears for the future of the legendary pub, concert and club space when Mary's Group owners Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham announced that they would be ending their time at the famed gig venue. The cheeseburger lovin’ hospo duo reopened the Lansdowne in 2017, just two years after the doors were first shuttered in 2015. In February, they cited a disagreement with landlords for the end of their tenure at the venue, which was due to cease in April – however, gigs have continued through May, stoking the fires of speculation that the venue could still have a future as a live music haven.
In news that is music to our ears (pardon the pun), the team behind another Sydney live music institution, the Oxford Art Factory, have confirmed that they are taking over the Lansdowne. Renovations have commenced already, and the OAF crew revealed it has reached an agreement with the venue's owners, putting a halt to plans that would have seen the Lansdowne close down.
In a statement, Mark Gerber, the founder and CEO of the Oxford Art Factory said: "Sydney doesn't need to lose any more live music venues; it has suffered enough. The lockout laws and Covid-19 have severely impacted a once flourishing and vibrant nightlife, and I wasn't going to let yet another music venue fall by the wayside, not on my watch!”
"Lansdowne has played a hugely important role in the careers of many of our greatest music stars who have conquered the world. The Lansdowne is rejuvenated and continues to give voice to emerging and established artists and musicians."
Talk to anyone who grew up in Sydney during the ’80s and ’90s and they’ll have a tale about the Lansdowne. Friendships were forged, romances kindled and brain cells destroyed over nights of Bundy and Coke on tap, five-dollar steaks and scuzzy bands. While we’ll be surprised if you can ever get a counter feed for a fiver there again, we are stoked to know that the Lansdowne will live on.