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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Raleigh's DIVEbar is closing, but they're already on the hunt for a new space

Posted by on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Righteous Fool, playing Raleighs DIVEbar in 2009
  • Photo by Karen Mann
  • Righteous Fool, playing Raleigh's DIVEbar in 2009

When word began circulating on Facebook last week about the impending demise of DIVEbar, reaction on the Glenwood South music club's page was swift and appropriately doomy.

Many voiced outrage and sadness, often sharing memories of the club and ending their comments with "\m/", web-speak for metal horns. Some were upset that the club is suddenly closing the same month as Volume 11, Raleigh's only other dedicated heavy-music venue.

But local metal fan and regular DIVEbar patron David Askew succinctly summed up what many feel about the venue's closing: "This can't happen. I feel absolutely lost."

Askew's comments reflect the feelings of many local metal fans and musicians.

"It's a tragic loss to the metal community," said John E. Wooten IV, bass player for rising local traditional metal band Widow. "Sure there were bigger and better stages to play on, but none of them had the vibe that made DIVEbar our favorite place to play."

"I think I can speak for every local metal band that after Reservoir and now DIVEbar closing we've lost our living rooms," says Scott Endres, guitarist for Chapel Hill band MAKE, which will play its last show at the club on Dec. 29. "This is definitely a giant blow to what little there is of a tight-knit heavy music scene."

DIVEbar has actually been open in its current location—at the mouth of Raleigh's clubby, upscale Glenwood South area—since 2003, but only in the past few years has it become a destination club for metal fans. Booking agent Robby Rodwell, who was hired in April 2008, brought some of the nation's most adventurous heavy music bands, including New York industrial doom band Batillus, up-and-coming Richmond classic doom act Windhand and Appalachian space-metal outfit Generation of Vipers. He also booked classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal band Raven and an acoustic set by St. Vitus/Obsessed frontman Wino.

Rodwell says he liked pairing local bands with good out-of-town bands that weren't able to get their foot in the door in any other Raleigh venues. He says that once those groups were able to build up their Raleigh crowd at DIVEbar, they could move on to the bigger venues.

"I think not having a place for the good out-of-town bands to start out in Raleigh is going to have a negative impact on the scene," he says. "It definitely helps to have a little creative inspiration from beyond your own backyard."

Chapel Hill booking agent and Black Skies bass player Michelle Temple booked a variety of regional heavy music bands in the club, including Earthling, Phantom Glue and Caltrop. She praised the club for offering free or low-cost shows while still paying the bands. With free shows, she says, people were more inclined to check out a band and go see them again in other spaces throughout the Triangle. For touring bands, having a guarantee plus free beer on tour is like "a little oasis."

"You know you're going to leave with a tank of gas and play in a room full of people who appreciate you and your music," she says.

Adding insult to injury, the club isn't closing due to a lack of business. Club owners Kristy and Jason Corpora purchased the existing DIVEbar three years ago with a lease in place that is due to expire at the end of the year.

"The unfortunate circumstance of not being able to get the lease re-signed. Plain and simple," says Kristy Corpora when asked why the club is closing. "We're doing well. We're doing very well, actually."

"The verbal agreement was to potentially extend it, but nothing could be worked out," says Jason Corpora. "The landlord wants it back. There's no option to renew it, and he's entitled to do that. He wants to open up and expand his own business."

The couple won't speculate on the landlord's plans for the building, which shares space with a convenience store. They do say that they are hoping to relocate the club and open under a new name. The club's last show in the current location will be New Year's Eve.

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Last week, word surfaced that Raleigh's two heavy clubs, DIVEbar and Volume 11 Tavern, will shutter on Dec. 31; DIVEbar, at least, is looking for new digs.

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