By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
After hobbling along for more than a month without a liquor license, the Galaxy appears to be closed for good. Until the first weekend in June, the Washington Avenue entertainment district's most prominent live-music venue had barely been subsisting on a diet of alcohol-free all-ages shows. (The Galaxy lost its liquor license shortly after owner Casey Sutton bought out his two former partners; in an interview with Radar Station published May 21, Sutton said the license had expired as a result of "baggage from a previous administration.") Most midsize clubs, of course, stay afloat by selling alcohol, not concert tickets; Sutton's attempt to keep the club open for the underage and the abstemious was noble but obviously a stopgap solution. Now it looks as if even that fragile lifeline has been cut.
According to one of our underground operatives, the Galaxy's demise happened very suddenly. The source, who prefers to remain anonymous, went to the club on June 6 to see Neptune Crush. When he arrived at the door, the band members were on the loading dock, putting all their equipment back in their van. When he asked what had happened, they told him the club had been shut down because the insurance had been revoked. On June 9, the much-anticipated Melt-Banana show was moved from the Galaxy to the Hi-Pointe at the last minute, without explanation. Since then, local promoters and bookers have been scrambling to move scheduled national acts into other clubs around town, and the Galaxy no longer appears on the Web site that lists all the Clear Channel venues (http://cc.com/local_venues.asp).
When asked why the club was removed from the company's Web site, Clear Channel employee Brian Moore, who has booked shows at the Galaxy for the past couple of years, told us he had no comment. According to several sources, Sutton is on vacation -- which may explain why he hasn't returned repeated phone calls requesting comment. According to one anonymous insider, Sutton was told by state officials that the only way he could end his liquor-license hassles was to shut the place down altogether and essentially start over from scratch. Indeed, given the increased pressure from certain noise-sensitive loftistas (who apparently moved to Clubland with the understanding that it would suddenly turn into Webster Groves come bedtime), the Galaxy's hopes of getting its license reinstated seem increasingly remote.
Meanwhile, as of press time, the Galaxy's main phone number is still working, but there's no indication on the prerecorded upcoming-shows message that the events have been cancelled or moved to other venues. Galaxy management recently pulled its ads from the RFT, however, so the obsolete outgoing message was probably just an oversight, not an attempt to mislead potential customers.
Although it's too soon to start mourning the downtown fixture, its prognosis looks bleak, at least to the sentimental old bastards of Radar Station, who fondly recall going to the venue in the late '80s, before all the yuppies converged to revitalize everything, before dance clubs were the hipster hangout of choice, before rock was officially dead and shit. Back then the club was known by its street address, 1227, and it mostly catered to the industrial-music crowd. We mocked it then (Stupid, stupid Trent Reznor; o what ye hath wrought!), and we probably took it for granted in the intervening years, but the fact is, St. Louis can't afford to lose another good concert venue, not if we want to shake off our cow-town image and lure the, ahem, creative class into our ranks. Let's hope the long-suffering Sutton finally gets a break: Everyone wins in the long run.
Congratulations to Tim Jamison, winner of Radar Station's "Musical Adventures" essay contest. In addition to being an entertaining writer and a music nut of the highest order, Jamison is the frontman of Ultraman, which formed in 1986 (a week after Jamison's previous band, White Suburban Youth, broke up) and is still going strong, with a new album in the works and several scheduled gigs. Jamison didn't win the contest on the basis of his impeccable cred as a local-music veteran and an old-school punk rocker, however; he won because his itinerary was exhausting, his insights trenchant and his enthusiasm contagious. If you'd like to see the essay in its entirety, contact Radar Station at the address below.