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.