December 29th, 2011 By Deirdre Kaye | Music | Posted In: Music Commentary, Local Music, Live Music

No More Tears: An Alternate Southgate House View


This might seem somewhat blasphemous, but I hold no real alliance with the Southgate House. I moved back here from Florida to go to college. The greatest benefit to moving here was that I was no longer in the South Florida concert rut. Cincinnati is right in the path between a lot of much larger cities. I was excited to be somewhere that would, hopefully, get more concerts than Palm Beach. This proved mostly true. But, more often than not, I still find myself heading to Cleveland, Chicago or Nashville for gigs. Which is why, after living here for six years, I’d only stepped foot in the Southgate House a couple times. But that’s only a minor reason as to why I’m not exactly heartbroken to see the venue close.

It’s unfortunate any time a good music venue shuts its doors and the Southgate House was surely a great music venue. It wasn’t the most acoustically pleasing room. The mold in the top corners of the ballroom might have been a little disconcerting to the germaphobes. But there really isn’t anything quite as exciting as climbing up those front stairs to get to the big brick house on the hill. Nor does the excitement tone down as you descend into the basement Ballroom. If you’re at the Southgate House, you know you’re in for a good night.  

Of course, there’s also nothing as frustrating as trying to park at Southgate House, either. Do you risk the shady guys in torn shirts and grubby neon vests to park in a dark lot? Do you feed quarters into a meter and hope for the best? Or do you cough up your Jameson & Sprite money to park in the Levee garage? Given the chance to see two equally awesome bands at the Southgate or 20th Century Theatre in Oakley, I’d always choose 20th Century just for the ease of parking.

Part of being an intern at CityBeat is updating events listings. I recently did what I’m certain will be the last concert updates for Southgate House (at least for now). I went through their 2012 listings, preparing to delete them. I knew Mike Doughty (of late 90’s awesomeness, Soul Coughing) was rebooked at The Redmoor, so I began checking all the other artists that were scheduled at Southgate House in 2012. It turns out that quite a few had simply moved to a new venue.

I’ve heard insane amounts of moping over the closing of the Southgate House in the past week. That’s cool. But I think it’s important to note the positive side of the closing. 

The truth is that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. We have quite a few venues — a plethora, really. Here’s some really basic economics for you (from a Journalism major, so bare with me): If concertgoers are M&Ms and venues are chocoholics, the more chocoholics in the room, the less M&Ms each one gets. Everyone stays hungry. The more venues there are, the less concertgoers can attend each one. No one makes enough money. We may lose the Southgate House (and Mad Hatter in Covington), but those concerts are going to end up at 20th Century or Madison Theatre, giving them more business and helping them to stay open.  It also means it’s one less venue that can offer a great show on the exact same night there’s another concert you want to attend.

Southgate House is closing and that’s a bummer. I’ll miss climbing one set of stairs only to trample down another. I’ll miss the secret stairway by the stage and watching my best friend eye the mold suspiciously. But I won’t miss conflicting concert schedules, dealing with movie-goers or dodging horse-drawn carriages.  

Losing SGH and Mad Hatter means, hopefully, only missing those two and no other great Cincinnati venues.  

A gentle reminder to those of you who aren’t already burning amps in my yard: You have to support a business if you want it to stick around. To ensure the rest of Cincinnati’s live music establishments stay open, make sure you go see some of the awesome gigs coming up in January, February and beyond.

12.29.2011 at 10:43 Reply

Extremely bad and tortured reasoning, just to be able to be contrary and belittle the finest music/bar venue in the Tri-State. Mold and parking are your main complaints. You could park 4 or 5 blocks down and no coins needed. Then you'd complain about having to walk 5 blocks. Since you've only been there a few times in 6 years, of course it's no big deal to that the Shouthgate's going down. And a cultural icon for Cinci/N Ky is passing; glad you're so blasé about it. I know though: you're just trolling a little. Well, got the rise out of me I guess. Just a guess: Palm Beach might suit you better. I really do think you missed the point of the Southgate House. Oh well.


12.30.2011 at 11:43 Reply

Deidre, you've wasted lots of quarters, girl.  Those meters shut off at about 6pm.  Also, another sad economic truth is that the less venues we have, the less acts will come to this area.


12.30.2011 at 01:48 Reply

I'm sorry, but can we have some copyediting? It's "set foot in," not "stepped foot in," and it's "bear with me," not "bare with me." It's "tramp down," not "trample down." Also, a single "path" that "runs between a lot of much larger cities"? Surely a single path cannot simultaneouly be "between" Cincy and Pittsburgh and "between" Cincy and Memphis.


12.30.2011 at 04:36 Reply

I'm glad someone else caught the usage gaffes; I'm also writing to say that the Southgate's sound was the best out there. Their sound guy knows his stuff and bands respect that. Rumor has it that the sound crew along with other staff are founding another incarnation. 

This isn't a case of supporting a local business, which people did. This is a family fued in which everyone loses. BTW, we never had trouble parking. Oakley can be just as challenging--parking for Trombone Shorty was a nightmare.


01.02.2012 at 01:55 Reply

Actually, I'm a Cincinnati native and I happen to agree with the author.  The venue may have been an icon, and may have been enjoyed by many over the years, but that does not automatically equate to being "the best" in terms of acoustics and sound quality.  The last time I was at Southgate, the sound was atrocious - garbled and awful. I knew almost all the singer’s lyrics, but I still couldn’t understand what he was saying. She also was not totally disparaging of the venue - she said it was "surely a great venue" and knew that what she was about to say was going to be "blasphemous."  Having an opposing opinion doesn’t mean someone is “trolling”-it means they don’t agree with you.  That’s what freedom of speech is about.

Additionally, are we seriously telling someone to go back where they came from just because she doesn't share the same opinion?  That seems very juvenile.  If you follow bands rather than venues, you’ll notice that many bands go straight from Nashville to Chicago and Chicago to Philly or NY.  Cincinnati is certainly closer to that path than Palm Beach.

Also, one last note about the parking situation. The neighborhood, although much improved over the last decade or so, still leaves much to be desired in terms of safely walking alone or even in pairs at night, especially for a girl.


01.02.2012 at 01:48

Mary - I think part of the reason why people find this blog so offensive (or at least, why I find it so offensive) is that the general tone seems sort of snotty.  CityBeat readers are not exactly the types to care about a tiny bit of mold in the corners of a historic building.  It's an emotional time for people who have had important memories in the Southgate House, and to hear an out of towner be snide the week it closes...it's bad timing at the least, tone deaf at the worst.