Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Aviary is dead! Long live the Aviary!

Bad news.

Ugh, it kills us to write this, too, because we just got done writing in our last post about how much we love playing basement shows, especially at places like the Aviary. But so it goes, the Aviary is no more, by order of the City of Pittsburgh. Something about noise and alcohol and whatever other bullshit they can think of because they're in charge and we aren't. Fuck.

Suffice it to say, the show on April 15th (and the one on the 23rd as well) is pretty much cancelled. We're looking for another place to have it, but the whole point of the Aviary was about having a space where there wasn't any others--right in the heart of Oakland where young people actually live. So it seems unlikely that we'll actually be able to find anything. Sorry guys.

But we're not going down quietly. J.z. just sent a letter to the editor of both the Post-Gazette and the City Paper, hoping that we can be heard. This whole thing is nonsense when there are frats up the street where girls have to watch their drinks and fights break out in the street. And yet the city turns a blind eye because that's "all just part of college." We want to have a positive community space for music and it's a problem? Fuck that. Here's the letter:

Just last week, Scott Mervis wrote an article about the new face of Pittsburgh music, and mere days later, one of the best and most welcoming spots for making independent music in the heart of the city has been served a cease and desist.

"The Aviary" is a row home on Ophelia Street in South Oakland and those who live in the house are now being threatened with fines and jail time pending investigation. What the city has demanded to be shut down was a biweekly music night, an open mic of sorts, that invited artists from all around town to play in their basement. Everyone was welcome, from classical guitarists to punk bands. What developed at the Aviary was a community of music, one that was inviting and positive. A recent article in the Pitt News will tell you as much.

Yes, it got loud. Just as loud as any other parties in South Oakland do each week. But unlike many of those parties, the Aviary has never had an issue with violence or drug use or even public drunkenness. After a single noise complaint, this communal hub for music is being wiped off the city's radar. Never mind the bands that got their start there over the past year of its existence; bands that now regularly play around town and are the future of Pittsburgh's ever-struggling music scene that Mr. Mervis wrote about. Never mind the attendees of the music nights who were given a safe, welcoming place to celebrate the music of their peers. Never mind the entire concept of a music community and what it can provide for this city.

I understand the issues of noise, the problems of student drinking; but those exist with every party, and in driving through South Oakland, the Aviary was no louder or more raucous than any other house on a weekend night. It was a safe place, a sanctuary for creativity that now must close, while a blind eye is so often turned to problem places just blocks away. There is no outlet for music in Oakland like this, with such a long proud history of punk houses just south of the Boulevard where music could be made and heard, it breaks my heart that another one must pass in its prime.

Don't give up the ship. Sorry to the Aviary, but we'll keep this motherfucking dream alive somehow.


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