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Tub Life

Gone, but not forgotten.

Written By Alan Mitchell

  • Photograph by George Palmer

  • Photograph by George Palmer

  • Photograph by George Palmer

The loss of The Union Bar (The Tub, The Tubman) as a local music venue is a huge blow to the Hastings music scene.

We featured The Union Bar in the first ever issue of The Stinger magazine, because we recognised the vital part it played in the local music scene. Here's a link to that article:

We thought we'd ask one of the many local musicians who have spent their formative musical years both playing and watching music at the venue, Alan Mitchell, to give us his thoughts, and share his memories, of what will be a very sadly missed venue.

On the 16th of March 2017 I woke up to the news that The Tub (also known as The Union Bar and The Tubman) had had its license revoked and was highly unlikely to be a pub ever again.
The Tub is a music venue and bar in Hastings. It has had a few name changes and few changes of appearance in the last few years, but it proved to be the beating heart and a hub of the music scene in Hastings.
No matter what style or genre, bands were always welcomed with open arms.

There are a lot of creative people in Hastings, and therefore a lot of people playing music, great music at that.
The Tub always seemed to be the place where young bands and musicians could not only come and play their first show, but to also feel comfortable and develop their craft, if you will, along with other young musicians in exactly the same position.
In my experience from being a musician, it doesn't matter how many lessons you have, being surrounded by positive people who are better and have more experience than you teaches you a lot more, and thats exactly what The Tub was.

I cant even begin to describe how grateful I am for The Tub being there.
I played my first gig there, and when I say first gig I mean my first gig ever!
Me and my best friend Harvey Palmer played there in front of our families on a Sunday afternoon at 3’o clock sharp. We were too young to stay afterwards, we also sucked.
But for us it was a place where it was ok for us to be rubbish, and then strive to get better. Now every time I sit down to write a song, I always imagine what it would sound like in front of an audience at The Tub on a Friday night. What am I going to imagine now?!
For Harvey it literally became his life. He went on to promote shows there, becoming the house sound engineer and then the manager, and what a mighty fine job he did too.
And what a mighty fine beard he grew in the process, I like to think it matured and flourished with The Tub, but thats just me.
As I mentioned, there were so many local bands, and so many musicians hanging around there, getting better every time they played, especially when Paul Osmond got involved, a man who really championed the local music scene.
So many great local bands who have come and gone, and bands that are still current, played there, bands like: Bastard Eye Scream, Purr, Blue Stragglers, Kid Kapichi, Alibi, Illustrated Man, Free Beer, Monsterface, I could literally go on and on.
I get carried away real easily, especially when there’s been so many fantastic gigs at The Tub. 

Over time, and right up to the week The Tub shut its doors, I remember countless young musicians asking me to ask Harvey to get them a show at The Tub, just because of the reputation it had now gained.
People just like me who have watched many great shows and wanted to be a part of it.
A young local musician named Henry, who goes under the name ‘Two Headed Boy’ (great music by the way, check it out), mentioned to me at a recent gig, my last at The Tub in fact, how much it was his ambition to play on the stage at Tub, and just how much playing it meant to him.
Henry isn't the only one, many people who I now consider my best friends all played first shows there.
A band who i’m now involved with named ‘The Lucid Experiment’ played their first show at The Tub, a then 2 piece garage rock band, fronted by a fresh faced bandana wearing Brady Bowles.
I’m fairly certain Kid Kapichi played their first show at the venue under the name ‘The Crooks’ (They did).
As did my own bands ‘King the Native’, ‘Baby Goliath’ and ‘The New Born Sinners’.
It was a place where you could get better and it would be ok, because it was so accepting.

I’m not sure if it's because I grew up with The Tub, so I may be biased in saying this, but I know for a fact I’m not the only one who felt it, but every time I stepped in to that place I felt comfortable and at ease.
Now from having playing in a lot of venues, I know this is a feeling every bar and venue strives for. It's something that can't be made, and it can't be created with a lick of paint.
Places either have it or they just don’t, even if the toilets aren't so great! I guess that infamous aspect of the venue just added to the humble character of The Tub?
I remember walking into a gig by Free Beer (a hardcore punk band from Hastings), it may have been on Halloween, I’m not sure they played so many gigs there, but people were getting naked and a pigs head was being paraded on the stage.
I wasn't even under the influence of anything, all I know is that it felt strangely natural.
There’s plenty more where that came from, as that was pretty normal night in regards to The Tub. 

To summarise on what I’ve been waffling on about, The Tub has always been a place where you could go and feel welcomed.
In terms of music, it didn't matter what music you played, people at The Tub would always find a way of getting into it, and bands would always come away feeling like they'd played a good show, even if it was to just four people.
When I wasn't playing a gig at The Tub, I was often there having a drink listening to a band, or listening to a guy talk utter glorious nonsense.
It didn't matter who you were, you could have been a social butterfly, or even a total social turtle who wants to hide away for the whole night and just chill, you could do that. It was just the kind of place that accepted everyone, no questions asked.
It's something not only I but a lot of people will miss.
Big love and thanks to the people who were involved in the running of The Tub for making it a shining light.
May it rest in peace. 

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