Pure Pop Records Pulls the Plug

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By Alec Nejad

Iconic St Kilda music retailer and entertainment venue Pure Pop Records will be vacating its Barkly Street digs come August 17. After 9 years of brisk trade and many happy customers, untenable circumstances have made their stay in the lively beach side premises no longer feasible. A record shop closing its doors in this digital age might not seem like news, but Pure Pop’s true claim to fame was its championing the local music scene with its live gig nights. Hugely popular with gig goers across Melbourne, seemingly however not so popular with some of its neighbours who complained about what they deemed excessive noise and subsequently making some noise of their own to the authorities. This sparked an emotional and trying three year battle between Pure Pop, council, and the leaseholder of 221 Barkly Street.

Pure Pop claims to have tried everything, determined to appease its critics in the cause of keeping the fire of home-grown talent burning. Numerous attempts were made to negotiate a variety of noise dulling renovations such as a soundproofing permit through their leaseholder, who Pure Pop were not shy about calling uncooperative and unhelpful. This however, was to no avail. When the only remaining option to stay put was in abandoning live music altogether and thus destroying its core purpose. Pure Pop knew it was time to say goodbye to Barkly Street and maybe even St Kilda.

This is certainly not the first time local residents have poured cold water on St Kilda’s vibrant local music scene. Both Marina Parade’s “The Great Provider” and Acland Street’s “The Vineyard” have come under threat over the past several years and received substantial fines by the EPA. Other inner city entertainment hubs such as South Yarra, and Fitzroy weren’t immune, either. One wonders whether a resident moving into streets adjacent Airport Drive, Tullamarine would have their complaints about excessive jet noise and traffic taken seriously.

With chatter in the scene of Pure Pop throwing in the towel altogether, owner Dave Stevens and son of the AC/DC front man Bon Scott, was quick to dispel the unfounded gossip and inject hope: “Rumours and speculations have been flying thick and fast about the future of Pure Pop Records and I’m sorry it’s taken so long to set the record straight… The search is on for a new lease… No one has lost Pure Pop except the landlord of 221 Barkly Street”.

Despite assurances by council that they would help break the standoff and mediate a resolution, Pure Pop found their help inconsequential. Serge Thomann, who famously broke ranks with his colleagues at the peak of the battle to voice his support for the scene: “I think Pure Pop is a great venue. The locals love it. I don’t quite understand why people are complaining… St Kilda has always been a place with live music… I will do anything I can to protect that.”

If there’s any silver lining to this local music tragedy, it’s that bargain hunters and foreclosure scavengers, can pick up everything from CDs and vinyl to fridges and dishwashers over the next several weeks until closing. Why not, however, simply drop by and show your support. Enjoy the last of the gig nights playing right on schedule until doors close for good in mid-August. A final week that promises to be unforgettable. All the favourites will be back to show their support and gratitude, eager to return the favour to that humble record shop just down from the beach who gave the community great vibes, character, and joy.

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