Memories ‘assembled’ as music venue closes

American rapper Yelawolf performed at one of Assembly's last shows this week.

Despite the Assembly’s pending closure, co-owner Duncan Ringrose is looking on the bright side.

“There’s something cool about closing chapters and moving on,” said Mr Ringrose, one of the owners of the live music venue which will be closing its doors after nine years on the party scene.

The Assembly, which opened in 2007 in a transformed warehouse in Harrington Street, hosted weekly events featuring local and international artists such as Freshlyground, Jack Parow, Public Enemy, and most recently, Spek Won, among others.

And while the night club was still doing well, attracting more than 1 000 people on a weekly basis, Mr Ringrose feels that it is time to close the doors.

“I think that we are all happy to let it go and not get into the music and entertainment industry for the foreseeable future. It’s a lot of mixed feelings.

“It was a big responsibility. As much as we put into the venue, it took a lot out of us.”

But as much as a relief it is to let it go, Mr Ringrose will always have fond memories of running the place, such as the opening night, which he thought was significant.

“It changed the dynamics of music in Cape Town. We focused on artists, their talent and giving them a platform. And I think the artists appreciated that we took the time to give them this space.

“We gave the youth of Cape Town a place to go every week, and it’s very seldom that you can get more than 1 000 people in a one space every single week.

“I am very proud of everyone. I’m proud of what’s been achieved,” said Mr Ringrose.

Manager, Carl Williams, added: “I called it home for the past nine years, so it is quite sad for me.”

Mr Williams started out as a bar tender in 2007. “I was here since day one, and I’m one of the last people standing.”

He said one of the highlights of working at the Assembly was meeting renowned artists and that the venue had left its mark in Cape Town. “When we were new, we were pumping. We set a benchmark from the beginning as one of the best live music venues in Cape Town.”

Zander Tyler, better known by his stage name Jack Parow, said the venue had played a big role in his growth as a musician. “It was a springboard to get into the music scene.

“Especially as a rapper and electronic musician, there were not that many places in Cape Town where we could perform.

“All I can say is, please support live music because there aren’t that many big venues in the city anymore.”

The Tamboerskloof resident said he had countless stories and memories related to the venue.

He has also shot three music videos there over the past nine years.

Mr Zander said he was looking forward to what the new owners had in store for the venue. “A lot of bands and photographers made names for themselves at Assembly. Wheels turn. I’m hoping they will make it another cool venue (for music) and I’m looking forward to it.”

Wynand Myburgh, manager and bass player at Cape Town-based band Fokofpolisiekar, said he was sad to see the venue closing and that it had had a big impact on the local scene. “It’s a bit of a bummer (that it is closing). When we were planning a launch that was our go-to venue. We are planning a launch for later this year and it is almost like ‘well what now?’”

Mr Myburgh said one of his highlights of playing at the venue over the years was their show on Friday August 5.

“We sold out two days in advance. We also pushed the stage back to make more space and sold a further 100 tickets. There has been a shift in the local scene with people buying pre-sold tickets. The show was one of the most successful we’ve had.”

Sea Point resident Zethu Gqola said it was sad that the venue was closing. “The Assembly always pushed boundaries with their calibre of artists, both local and international. They made living on the edge look admirable.”

Rondebosch resident, Luyanda Peter, said she has great memories of the venue, as a fan and later as an event organiser. “From being a dreamy flyer collector, to a patron and eventually working behind-the-scenes of some of the live shows that the venue hosted, there is not a single moment in the existence of the Assembly that I can fault. The Cape Town nightlife can be full of politics but never-ever did I experience that at the Assembly.

“Outside of the highly-respect-able quality of sound the venue produced, the professionalism of the hearts and minds behind the Assembly, that I was blessed to encounter, stays branded on my mind.

“Apart from assisting with the necessities, I truly admired the the passion the team put behind the productions I worked with them on – especially being a person who believes in the small things that make a good production great.”

* The Assembly will host its final event on Saturday August 13.