Now Edinburgh gig goers are mourning the loss of yet another late night music venue as the iconic alternative club closes its doors after 22 years.
The shock announcement is the latest in a string of closures in the city that has caused widespread concern about the city’s live music scene.
The announcement was made via Studio 24’s social media channels, prompting thousands of revellers to share their memories on Facebook in a bid to save it. In less than 48 hours more than 2,000 had signed an online petition.
Studio 24 has always been a hub for alternative and underground bands, eschewing the mainstream music scene. It famously hosted the Seattle grunge band in 1990 and 1991 during its previous incarnation as Calton Studios.
But it has experienced a number of problems, not least its ability to rub along with the neighbours.
In 2005 the owners spent £40,000 on sound proofing to make it compliant with the city’s tough noise abatement rulings, but it had its licence suspended in 2007 after police were called more than 40 times to deal with noise complaints and allegations of under-aged admissions.
‘For years we’ve fought the good fight’
The latest move seems to be fatal. Gillian McArthur and Family announced the closure on Facebook, sparking an outcry from regulars past and present.
Their statement said: “For years we’ve fought the good fight, giving a place for lovers of underground music somewhere where they feel safe in a friendly environment surrounded by staff who genuinely care about the music playing, the atmosphere and making sure the customers feel the same love.
“We’re gutted we’ve had to come to this decision, but with years of investing thousands upon thousands in sound-proofing and legal fees in order to stay open, alongside complaining neighbours and harsh council-enforced sound restrictions, we feel these problems won’t leave us, with more complaints recently received and no real support from licensing standards officers, therefore threatening our ability to stay open.”
On regular, Keefe McKie said: “I saw the news last night that the Studio will be closing its doors next month and I felt something akin to mourning. This club has in many ways shaped who I am.”
Mandy Clark posted: “I say we bombard Edinburgh city council with letters, emails, phone calls, they’re absolutely destroying Edinburgh.”
Graeme McKinnon added: “This is another nail in the coffin of any non-mainstream nightlife in Edinburgh.”
Of those the venues that remain, the Voodoo Rooms neighbouring the Cafe Royal, hosts monthly free live music nights, courtesy of guitarist and organiser Ash Gupta supported by a regular supply of veteran musicians playing a range of rock, country and reggae.
There are also jazz nights every Sunday at Whighams in the West End, featuring regulars Kevin Dorrian and Nick Gould who have also drawn a few guest appearances from nationally-known performers.
However, the city has certainly suffered a steady decline in venues. The Picture House on Lothian Road closed as a music venue four years ago, reopening as a pub, and the Electric Circus on Market Street shut in March this year. Cas Rock and the Venue were earlier casualties.
Dunc Stark joined those protesting this latest closure. He posted: “Very sad, but not surprised. Having dealt with the “Noise Polis” myself, on various occasions, I know how frustrating all of this must have been.
“To decide to close before being shut down, after previous complaints and council hearings – must have been a very difficult decision to take. This is my city, and it’s stifling independent creative spirit. I wish only good thoughts to everyone associated with the Studios!”
‘For over two decades Studio 24 has been essential for the live music scene’
Representatives of The Bongo Club also commented on the closure of Studio 24. “We’re gutted! You guys are one of the oldest and best in town! We’ve both been through a lot over the years with moving and noise and all sorts of Edinburgh red tape! Great shame to see you guys go.”
At least one councillor is backing those seeking a solution. Lewis Ritchie who represents the Leith Walk ward said: “For over two decades Studio 24 has been essential for the live music scene in this city because of its open, accessible and safe environment. It’s been a massive part of lots of people’s lives.
“Edinburgh is renowned for being a festival city, therefore we need to live up to that expectation and provide places like Studio 24 where people can go to enjoy themselves.
“The city will be a much poorer place without Studio’s vibrant mix of alternative music, live music, electro and metal.”
Paul Lawrence, the council’s director of place, said: “We haven’t been made aware of the venue’s reasons for closure of Studio 24, but I would welcome a meeting with the owners to discuss their situation.
“We’re committed to working with the industry to support live music and I will be presenting a report detailing the work of the Music Is Audible taskforce to members of the new council administration this summer.”
However, the situation is not encouraging. Leith Depot a small 60 capacity live music venue and bar in Leith Walk is waiting to hear its fate as a new landlord is proposing demolition in 2019 to build housing and retail units.
As Edinburgh faces a dearth of live music nightspots, rival city Glasgow continues to rock as a “music city” championing established artists in mainstream venues like the SECC and Hydro, and new talent in venues as diverse as King Tut’s where Oasis were famously discovered, and bands such as Radiohead established a cult following.
The converted church Oran Mor provides an eclectic club, hospitality and music scene, and the old established dancehall, the Barrowlands in the city’s east end, continues to draw gig goers.
Edinburgh music fan Ellie Barnes said: “My partner and I regularly go through to Glasgow for live gigs as there is so much more choice. The Edinburgh music scene is being slowly strangled. It’s such a shame.”
Additional reporting by Terry Murden