Friday, 9 July 2010

The Freebutt Statement - 9th July

* First of all we would like to advise people that the Freebutt has not ‘shut down’ the Penthouse Bar above the Freebutt is still open seven days a week between 7:30pm and Midnight (1am Friday/Saturday). Please come in and show your support for the venue. *

It’s with huge regret that we have to announce that the volume limiter installed in the downstairs live room of The Freebutt has been reduced to a level of just 94dBA rendering it impossible for live unamplified drums or backline amplified guitars to perform in the building.

The immediate repercussions of this are that we are unable to host live bands in the venue. Currently booked shows (with the exception of Adelaide’s Cape on Friday 16th July) at the Freebutt have either been re-housed or are in process of being re-housed. Please check the official website for the all the latest changes. We have also been forced to make redundant 14 members of staff.

On Friday 2nd July representatives from the Environmental Health department and the Licensing department of Brighton and Hove City Council visited the Freebutt along with two specialist impartial audio engineers at our request. Upon undertaking a number of tests both within the Freebutt and the complainants’ home it became apparent that there is indeed a continued audio nuisance to the complainants caused by live bands performing here.

Whilst we sympathise with the complainant we still maintain that the only way to solve this issue is to provide us with a reasonable period of time in conjunction with EHO in which to undertake sound proofing works to eradicate the problem once and for all while still being able to trade and raise funds for the works.

Unfortunately it was decided that the Freebutt must immediately cease causing an audio nuisance and as such EHO took the decision to substantially reduce the setting of the volume limiter from 105dBA to 94dBA as to make the sound created in The Freebutt inaudible to the complainants.

It’s difficult for us to determine the long term effects of this as obviously a substantial amount of sound proofing works must be carried out at vast expense; the initial estimate is in the region of twenty thousand pounds. Frustratingly this is very much beyond our reach, particularly when we are unable to have any of our current 2010 bookings (which totals around 100 confirmed shows) perform in our venue.

As the council are quick to stress, The Freebutt has technically not been ‘shut down’. However, for a live music venue to be financially viable in a recession in a city the size of Brighton with a calendar made up solely of acoustic music would be an impossible challenge. The Freebutt has always been a diverse venue that caters across the board and brought such key acts as The Libertines, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Explosions in the Sky, Razorlight and Grizzly Bear to Brighton in their infancy. The closure of the Freebutt live room will undoubtedly have a devastating effect upon the musical culture of not only Brighton but the entire South East.

The Penthouse bar above the Freebutt remains open seven days a week between 7:30pm and Midnight (1am Friday/Saturday), please stop by and continue to support us.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped throughout our fight to keep the Freebutt open, your support was unprecedented and moved us all. Within just a week our petition gathered over 4000 signatures, that’s 2.5% of the entire population of Brighton and a quarter of the number of people who voted the Green Party into the Pavilion constituency.

Our petition is still open so please continue to spread the word of our plight and please contact your local councillor if you feel particularly passionate about the issue.


  1. Well.
    Since I moved to Brighton in 2002, the Freebutt has been a staple part of my weekly rounds, although I confess since it's original re-opening in 2007 not so much, primarily due to structural changes, but also to programme that was booked.

    It is a terrible shame that this has occurred. My only sadness is that when the venue was re-licensed and purchased by the Joiners group in 2007, they were fully away of sound proofing requirements, but for a modicum of reasons chose not to invest further in the building's structural intent.

    Sadly, as stated, it is very expensive to remodel a property, money which a genuinely dedicated group cannot attain in a non-profit making enterprise.

    The Freebutt has sat in a vicious financial circle for a decade and the 20k just for acoustic engineering seems only a small chunk of what's really required to restore what was the most important venue in Brighton.

    We lose a true Pillar (boom boom) of society.

  2. I'm really disappointed to hear about this. Does the 'butt have any plans in mind for a charity fundraiser - or some other way to raise money to cover the soundproofing?

  3. Hi guys. I'm really sorry to hear this is going against you. I can only imagine how frustrating and upsetting this is for you.

    If all those 4000 petition signers donate £5, that makes the £20,000 right? That's not much to ask of everyone. I'll give you £100 to pick up any slack. Seriously. Open a donations box and I'll start it off.

  4. Hah! Need to get my £1800 council tax back off the council for being cunts, then you could have that towards the sound proofing.

  5. I can't recall the URL but I'm pretty sure there's a petition website which allows people to agree to pledge x sum of money if the petition gets its target number of signatories. That might be an option?

  6. £20k? We built and sound proofed out entire pro-record studio for £5.5k. How about I put you in touch with our builder?

  7. I'll gladly cover some of those costs.

  8. I agree with Meatbreak, people need to put their money where their mouth is and this could be sorted out. I'm happy to donate some money to this cause.

  9. Perhaps - in it's time of need, people could make a special effort in visiting The Penthouse bar above The Freebutt and buying a drink. There are DJ's on most nights - but it is particularly hard for those nights when there is no show on downstairs... this would show physical support and help financially (albeit in a small way).

  10. Hey Guys,

    It's a real shame this has happened, the Freebutt truly is one of the few live venues left in Brighton. It's also a pitty this wasn't brought to light in a clearer sense by previous owners, as this isn't a new problem.
    The Freebutt is well supported within Brighton, and I strongly suggest you mobilise this strong fan-base to put on a couple of charity acoustic shows, write to previous successful bands who have played at the Freebutt and see if you can get some signed merch from them and have a raffle, every little helps. Though 20k is a lot in the recession it is relatively little money especially if it means you can quickly get your sound limiter reinstated to a workable level, which at the end of the day is absolutely key for the Freebutt to stay in business. In my view I would try your best to negotiate and try and get the EHO on board especially if now independent sound technicians have said there is a problem. See if you can try and come to an agreement whereby you can have live shows with a higher limiter level at the weekends up to 21:00 or something like that. Persistence, and cooperative productive negotiations can often produce results. Best of luck guys, know how hard you worked to get this venue back off the ground!

  11. So you need 20 grand... How about you sell 1000 exclusive 'Freebutt supporters club' memberships for £20 each - discount tickets or drinks, supporters only gigs... you get the picture. Shouldn't be that hard to raise if 4000 people signed the petition? I'd join! x

  12. the houses weren't there when the Freebutt was opened, were they? your own stupid fault if you buy a house right next to a live music venue!

  13. I agree that there may be many of us who use, or have used the Freebutt in the past that would be willing to contribute small sums towards the soundproofing to see the venue survive. But, I can't see on whether contributing to the soundproofing costs is an option on either the Facebook or Go Petition sites.

    All the housing around the Freebutt is social housing, so the residents do not choose to buy their properties knowing that there is a live music venue on their doorstep. They bid on a property listed on the council website or in a council magazine, and are then generally offered a morning viewing appointment and have to make an on the spot decision whether to accept the property. They generally have no idea that the Freebutt is on their doorstep at the point of signing the contract. I do feel for the residents who are not informed at the time they accept their property, and that this is a lapse on the part of the council that has lead to complaints that could have so easily been avoided were the potential residents informed.

    The closure of The Freebutt would be a great loss to Brighton life.

  14. I can't stand the venues the gigs have been moved to. Please let us donate for soundproofing.

  15. I have only been to The Freebutt once but hoped to return as this is an important venue to Brighton and even more so since the closure of The Engine Room.
    I would gladly donate towards the cost of the sound-proofing if somebody can get some way of collecting the money sorted.

    Let's do it