One of Melbourne’s best loved music venues, the Flying Saucer Club celebrates its fourth birthday this Friday, 5th August and that first show featured The Revalators, a combo made up of three of the country’s finest musicians, Joe Camilleri, Joe Creighton and James Black.
“It was actually a big coup getting them,” recalls Mark Burchett, Venue and Artist Promoter for the club. “They did the first three Sundays. They haven’t played since. They hadn’t played for quite a long time for a few years and we managed to get them to do those shows and, as events conspired, they subsequently wouldn’t play again… well, not for a long time. We decided on Sundays and they all went really well. I think the third one was sold out.”
With over thirty five years’ experience working in the music industry, Mark knows a thing or two about the business. He has a good feel for what the punters want; what works and what doesn’t and the Flying Saucer Club is proof of that.
“It (the Flying Saucer Club) was born out of the Caravan Club,” he explains. “We (Mark and Peter Foley who runs both the Caravan Club and Memo Music Hall) were approached by the Caulfield RSL. They had seen what we’d achieved at Oakleigh RSL with the Caravan Club and wanted to see if we could do the same at Caulfield RSL so we had a few meetings and came to an agreement and decided to give it a go. Essentially the idea was to basically do a similar thing to the Caravan Club, probably trying to have a slightly different feel. Initially the idea was to do more of jazz stuff and more intimate stuff which the room was suited to but it became reasonably clear that it wasn’t really having much of an effect on the Caravan Club and that both gigs could survive but the Flying Saucer had always had a slightly more commercial bent to it than the Caravan, just to give it a sort of point of difference.”
Mark says that, essentially, it was Peter’s concept. “It was just something that he instinctively created when he created the Caravan Club and started running gigs originally in his lounge room before he moved to Oakleigh Bowling Club and then to Oakleigh RSL with the idea being to set up a venue where there were seats for punters and the gigs ran at an earlier time slot than what was traditional, I guess, so it was pretty much pitched at the baby boomer market who still wanted to see live music but were pretty much over the sticky pub carpet, the late nights in pubs and the fact that the music scene had become very inner city based and there hadn’t been very much happening out in the suburbs since the eighties. He saw a gap in the market and started doing it at the Caravan Club and he got me on board to take it to the next level.”
And now, Mark has taken on another project with Neil Wedd as business partner. The Satellite Lounge will operate out of the Wheelers Hill Hotel and is set to open its doors this Saturday. “Having seen what we had created with the Caravan Club and Flying Saucer, they were interested in doing something out there. They felt the room would lend itself to a similar scenario, running shows with a seated component and pitched to an older demographic. Another partner and I have negotiated a deal and we’ll do something similar. It will be pretty much the same model and it probably will be very similar to Flying Saucer I think. It’s a slightly different room and it’s a bigger capacity and it’s a hotel as opposed to an RSL but essentially the same model.”
The Flying Saucer Club has certainly grown a lot in four years. “It has been consistent,” says Mark. “It hasn’t always been easy and certainly the first eighteen months, we had our ups and downs but I feel it takes at least that long to get anything up and running properly and get people, agents and bands to have confidence in the room and enough punters knowing about it so it is on the map as it were.” And the Flying Saucer is definitely now well and truly on the map.
Friday’s celebrations will include some special giveaways such as gift hampers with vouchers, double passes, wine and chocolate, Flying Saucer Club Merchandise Packs, door prizes and a raffle and more. And, of course, Melbourne band, Jam the Funk will be getting everyone in a party mood and on the dance floor, as they always do.
As Mark points out, “It’s actually kind of fortuitous in a way that they are playing on our fourth anniversary because they are one of our most popular bands. They’ve probably played more shows at Flying Saucer than any other act. They always do the business from day one. I took a punt on them. They were a new act when I was approached about them and of course they are all known industry musicians and it’s always worked from day one. They put on a good show and people enjoy it and I’m sure they’ll do it again on Friday.”
The Flying Saucer Club is at 4 St. Georges Road, Elsternwick in Melbourne. To book tickets for Friday night or any other show, go to the club’s website
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved