New York has the Apollo Theatre, London has Brixton Academy, and Auckland has the Powerstation, an intimate venue at the bottom of the world that has punched above its weight since the mid-1980s, hosting some of the best and biggest acts on the planet.
In a city where too many celebrated venues have succumbed to developer’s plans and fickle trends, the Powerstation has continued to make live music history that connects the dots between the Ramones, Run DMC and Paul Weller. Those artists sit alongside a legendary line-up of Powerstation visitors which includes the Pixies, Ben Harper, Debbie Harry, Beastie Boys, MGMT, Marilyn Manson, Arctic Monkeys, Public Enemy, Rollins Band, The Charlatans, Spiritualized and many more.
When the Big Day Out made its New Zealand debut, headliner Soundgarden kicked off with a Powerstation show. Nick Cave watched Dirty Three and Perry Farrell’s Porno For Pyros side-of-stage – reports of Kylie Minogue being in the building that night were never confirmed. Neil Finn’s super group 7 Worlds Collide played a sold-out Powerstation residency that saw Radiohead’s Phil Selway perform solo material for the very first time. And Radiohead themselves made their New Zealand premiere there in 1994, before going on to conquer arenas worldwide.
With a winning combination of good acoustics and sightlines from virtually any audience vantage point, the Powerstation’s intimate theatre vibe will keep on attracting music’s best and brightest. In the past year alone, Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Fred Wesley, Rita Ora, Bloc Party, Mac Miller, Band Of Horses, Grimes, Alabama Shakes, Six60 & Steel Panther have all torn the roof off the sucker.
While other live venues come and go, the Powerstation is a New Zealand music institution that has long been a favourite of performers and audiences alike. History will continue to be made within its walls in the future as names like Television, Passenger & Black Rebel Motorcycle Club join its list of past performers.
About five years ago Muchmore Music took over the Powerstation and invested on all fronts to make the venue a great place to see a show and also a great place to perform.