It speaks volumes that the first time The Cellars’ website ever crashed because of too much traffic was the day it was announced it was to close.
Who were all these people suddenly trying to access the site? And more pertinently, where were they at all the gigs?
For all the handwringing that accompanies the end of any treasured institution – and The Cellars is treasured – make no bones about it, it is having to shut down because not enough people went to gigs there.
And that’s not because of a shortage of name acts playing there.
Anyone with a passing interest in the music business will have heard that since physical album sales plummeted, the live arena is where you make your money.
But the fact that so many small venues have been struggling and closing – The Cellars is sadly not an isolated case – gives this the lie.
Blockbuster acts like The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, U2 et al, may very well be able to put on stadium shows with inflation-busting ticket prices, and plug that monetary gap in lost album sales.
However, as Cellars’ manager Steve Pitt told The News, even the fact that the venue was closing didn’t help shift tickets for touring acts that have done well in other cities. And that is very worrying.
Music also needs support and nurturing at the grassroots level.
Portsmouth has a thriving music scene – look at the success of something like Icebreaker in January, which saw 90 local bands perform in one day to packed houses. And many of the people in that scene support their peers wholeheartedly.
But venues like The Cellars need to operate beyond the local circuit if they want to thrive.
So, less handwringing about venues closing and more going out.
Take a look at what’s on at The Wedge, The Square Tower, Pyramids, Guildhall, and others and take a punt on something.
You might just find your favourite new band.