If you go into the history section of Moles website, you will find a statement that mentions Moles existing no matter what through the unstopping march of time: ‘‘Long Live Moles, Long Live Live music’’. It is therefore with a rather sad sense of irony that the venue, considered by many a permanent fixture within the Bath student culture, has now ceased opening. In an Instagram post brought out yesterday, Moles Bath said ‘’Today, we are heartbroken to announce, that Moles, in its current form, is closing immediately’’. The club has laid blame on the cost-of-living crisis as the factor bringing about this fatal predicament, remarking how it has ‘’crippled the grassroots music sector’’, also noting ‘‘huge rent rates, with massively increased costs on everything from utilities to stocks are all factors’’.
It isn’t the first grassroots music venue to close, over 150, and 15 percent of sector have similarly shut, according to Music Venue Trust. Moles have called for greater action to be done with what they consider a great inequality, in which whilst smaller music venues are closing, larger areas are thriving.
‘’While all these venues are being closed, 7 new arenas are being built that will generate hundreds of millions a year. There needs to be a major shake-up of the live sector, with the big players supporting the grassroots where it all begins to secure that pipeline of talent. This is something that Music Venue Trust has been saying for years; maybe now the industry will listen’’.
The ripples from Moles closing has entered the wider Bath community. As one commenter on their Instagram remarked, ‘‘Bath will never be the same’’. As many will know, and have experienced themselves, music venues such as Moles tend to embody more than just mere sound and an enjoyable experience but can exist to provide a sense of identity to those who often feel alienated, even acting as a safe space to many who consider themselves disenfranchised. Events such as Discord– ‘’Bath’s only night dedicated to Rock, Metal and Alternative Anthems’’- as well as various shows celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, such as Sadface, an emo drag show, will likely disappear alongside Moles itself, leaving many that may have relied on these events as a vital sense of community desolate.
This does not even regard the career of those just entering the music industry. Moles has a history of playing host to some of the most illustrious music acts in the UK before they became illustrious – part of Oasis’ first tour, and Ed Sheeran performed at Moles before becoming big. It is difficult to argue that these musicians have not existed within a culturally defining level of fame, and one can only wonder what would happen if many of the smaller venues that acted as a catalyst for their musical fame disappeared. It may only be beyond tomorrow that we notice the ultimate implications from the demise of the grassroots music industry, as new bands find the journey up the music ladder that much more difficult.
This is without mentioning the direct influence this may have on Bath’s university students. Moles hosted regular student nights for both University of Bath and Bath Spa students, as well as showcasing the greatest musical talents emerging from both Universities. The opportunities of the more performative groups in our university have now greatly diminished.
A statement from the Bath SU said: “Moles has been a vital partner in our citywide student safety campaign, providing a cherished and secure space for our students. Past and present students, who have created numerous wonderful memories at Moles over the years, will deeply miss this venue.”
But is this really the end for Moles? A recent Change.org petition has emerged, calling on Moles to be preserved as ‘’a beacon for music lovers in Bath and Beyond’’.
‘’We are calling on the local authority and stakeholders to recognise the cultural significance of Moles and take necessary steps towards its preservation. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations will also get the chance to enjoy this iconic venue’’.
Whilst it is not yet clear what steps need to be taken exactly in order to save the music venue, the petition has already amassed almost 2,000 signatures (as of Wednesday the 6th of December).
As uncomfortable as the statement ‘‘Long Live Moles, Long Live Live Music’’ may be considering recent events, one cannot help but feel it is a cataclysmic ushering of truth. As grassroot music venues disappear, will our live music culture die? Music Venue Trust argue that more must be done to preserve these venues and make our music industry more sustainable.
‘’France mandates a 3.5% levy on major live music events to support grassroots. Today, we demand the UK government do the same. Unless the music industry wakes up now, legislation is the only lifeline’’ – Music Venue Trust
Will music arenas, acts, and our government speak up and help save venues such as Moles? Let’s hope so, as I speak for many in saying we were unable to say goodbye.
Moles Bath have been reached out to comment.