A feature for Mess+Noise about a much-loved Brisbane venue.
ANDREW MCMILLEN laments the loss of short-lived Brisbane venue Lofly Hangar, which shut its doors in late 2010.
Nestled under a party goods store on Musgrave Road in Red Hill, the Lofly Hangar always seemed an unlikely meeting place for Brisbane’s independent music community. Located far from the dedicated entertainment precinct in Fortitude Valley – where the majority of the city’s live music venues are based – Red Hill is very much a residential area. Yet since it first opened its doors to the public in 2007, the Hangar built a reputation for delivering quality music to curious listeners in an intimate setting.
From the beginning, $10 got you inside – a cost which was maintained through until the final show in December 2010, except for the occasional special event – and since it was classed as a private residence, there was no liquor licensing regulations involved. You’d bring your own booze, and since the main area was adorned with couches, it didn’t feel dissimilar from your living room. Such was the charm of the Hangar: interesting people and new sounds, experienced in comfort. Upon entering, you’d be almost guaranteed to have a great – and cheap – night out.
The line-ups were curated by the Lofly brains trust – Phil Laidlaw, Andrew White, Greg Cooper, Chris Perren, and Joel Edmondson – and even if you’d never heard of the bands playing, the sounds emanating from the adjoining band room were almost always diverse and intriguing. The stage, however, was non-existent. The bands played on the floor, set up in front of a wall of old televisions. The venue’s PA wasn’t amazing, but it got the job done. An unspoken, Meredith-like “no dickheads” policy seemed to be in play throughout its existence. To visit the Hangar was to be among open-minded music fans. It was a beautiful thing.
The final Hangar was held on December 11, 2010; coincidentally, it was the 100th public show held at the venue. A few weeks beforehand, three Hangar co-organisers – Laidlaw, White, and Cooper, each musicians themselves with aheadphonehome, Restream, and Toy Balloon, respectively – reflected on their time at the forefront of the Brisbane independent music scene.
Andrew White: We got a warehouse and leased it to practise and record in, and have parties with our friends’ bands. Then we started having more people coming. The idea came about to have it as a regular thing, every month. We were interested in putting on music that we liked. Having the parties has been a way of paying the bills. It was never a profit thing; it was just something that we wanted to keep going.
Phil Laidlaw: At the time , there were around three or four venues [in Brisbane] – The Troubadour, Ric’s, The Zoo. So we’d approach people asking them to play, and they’d respond with, “What are you talking about?” The model of warehouse party shows wasn’t happening. There wasn’t a lot of faith in it. It was very difficult to get bands that we thought were good bands to play. But the culture of the space evolved from the parties we were having. There was no need for security, because we knew everyone here.
With this story, I tried something I’d never done before: I went for an ‘oral history’ angle. I chatted with Andrew, Phil and Greg for over an hour on the evening of the last Hangar nights, and shaped the best / most relevant bits of that conversation into a narrative structure. I think it turned out OK.