Lansdowne Street Superclub

by Beacon Staff • September 12, 2007

Two Lansdowne Street music staples-Axis and Avalon-are being torn down for a larger, higher end, corporate behemoth. This new club, which will be known as the Lansdowne Street Music Hall, was announced this April by club owner Patrick Lyons.,For anyone in Boston who loves live music, the changes about to occur on Lansdowne Street are sure to be troubling.

Two Lansdowne Street music staples-Axis and Avalon-are being torn down for a larger, higher end, corporate behemoth. This new club, which will be known as the Lansdowne Street Music Hall, was announced this April by club owner Patrick Lyons.

This isn't a "mom and pop buyout" scenario. Instead, it threatens the distinct character of each club.

Avalon's ritzy setup, pricey drinks and dance club aesthetic have always been more Studio 54 than CBGB's.

Despite this, Avalon has long been an ideal venue for promoters to book on-the-rise bands who do not have the draw to fill an arena.

The loss of the club is a tough blow for the music scene to take, yet it is not the news that hit music-lovers' ears hardest: Axis is closing as well.

Axis, which holds just over 1,000 people at maximum capactiy, serves as one of Boston's most regular venues for hosting local acts that have not yet reached a level of popularity to fill a venue even the size of the Avalon, which holds 2,100 people.

A perfect example of this happened in 1991, when the Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana shared the stage at Axis before either group had gained national attention.

Given the significant role Axis has played in the artistic community, its absence is sure to be felt by performers and fans alike.

But who knows? Maybe the new Lansdowne Street Music Hall will better serve the musical community.

Perhaps this reactionary chest beating is too much, too soon, and the new venue will bring about a renaissance in Boston music.

However, considering all of the new, expensive equipment planned for the new club, it's fair to speculate that Boston's new entertainment complex will have higher ticket prices, and, in a bid to meet capacity, a narrower, more "mainstream" booking philosophy.

All of this points to two things: an approaching drought of musical eclecticism, and diminished attendance by college students who either can't afford tickets or are unwilling to pay higher cover charges.

As proven by other projects-like the Big Dig, the new Boston Convention Center and the envisioned plans to rehabilitate the South Boston Waterfront-the city's power brokers are making a concerted effort to maximize Boston's potential.

This project is not funded by the city of Boston, but Mayor Thomas M. Menino has expressed public support for Lyons, saying his plans will benefit the city.

Unfortunately, these devastating blows to the musical community will counteract any other progress the city makes.

The loss of Axis and Avalon are just another nail in the coffin for Boston's already struggling arts scene, especially after the closing of several underground artist communes and the clampdown on underage concerts.

Without venues that open their arms to developing artists, Boston's younger residents will find the city a less attractive community to call home.

City movers and shakers want the new mega-club to bring more money into Boston. They will learn that without legitimate centers for artistic development, Boston is destined to have an exodus of an important segment of its population-the creative community.