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runawayjim

Providence Music Scene

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not sure if anyone has heard of it or knows about it, but i'm really curious. what sort of music is it and what is the festival itself like?

terrastock

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I plan on going -- the first one was in Olneyville in 1997, and was my first introduction to the city. (I'm a midwestern transplant, and was living in Boston at the time.)

The music will range from psychedelic and experimental to noisy and folky. I know -- quite a span -- but that's really what it boils down to.

This page has links to the bands' pages, many of which have audio samples: http://www.terrascope.co.uk/TerrastockPage...ock6_bands.html

The festival will probably be populated by a bunch of fans of odd music from around the world. A Google search of "Terrastock 5" will bring numerous reviews of the last festival, and gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect this time!

not sure if anyone has heard of it or knows about it, but i'm really curious. what sort of music is it and what is the festival itself like?

terrastock

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I couldn't agree more. While Westminster is rather dead during the week, it is much better than it was just a short time ago. Tazza and the Black Rep. have really given that small piece of the street some fantastic activity. Empire is shaping up great as far as activity. Even Washington is starting to show SOME life, but I think the opening of the Dryfus will go a very long way toward opening up a slice of that street.

not to be a total jerk and obviously I understand why certain things had to happen, but...

Westminster always had vibrant steet night life when Lupo's and the Met were still "allowed" to be there. Obivously Cornish has done a lot to bring up the neighborhood and I wouldn't argue with that, but if we are now turning our complaints to "why doesn't anyone hang out on Westminster" then maybe that is a decision that should be looked at again.

Lupo's at the Strand has been pretty lame and he doesn't get nearly the volume of shows that he used to. Presumably at least part of this is bands don't want to break down at 9:45. Back in the late 90's there used to be a show every other night at Lupo's and also on many nights at the Met Cafe. Each of those shows brought hundreds of visitors from outside the city down to Westminster.

I usually don't buy the argument that gentrification creates a cleansed staleness, but in this case, I think everyone would have been better off if Lupo's and the Met had been allowed to stay. But that's just me.

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not to be a total jerk and obviously I understand why certain things had to happen, but...

Westminster always had vibrant steet night life when Lupo's and the Met were still "allowed" to be there. Obivously Cornish has done a lot to bring up the neighborhood and I wouldn't argue with that, but if we are now turning our complaints to "why doesn't anyone hang out on Westminster" then maybe that is a decision that should be looked at again.

Lupo's at the Strand has been pretty lame and he doesn't get nearly the volume of shows that he used to. Presumably at least part of this is bands don't want to break down at 9:45. Back in the late 90's there used to be a show every other night at Lupo's and also on many nights at the Met Cafe. Each of those shows brought hundreds of visitors from outside the city down to Westminster.

I usually don't buy the argument that gentrification creates a cleansed staleness, but in this case, I think everyone would have been better off if Lupo's and the Met had been allowed to stay. But that's just me.

lupo's at the strand does suck, although the location isn't bad for a music venue (much better than the westminster location). but the fact they share it with diesel is a problem. weekday shows are fine because they go late, but weekend shows end too early, which is probably why the bigger names come during the week.

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lupo's at the strand does suck, although the location isn't bad for a music venue (much better than the westminster location).

I disagree entirely with this but I guess I "grew up" with the club scene in Boston and Philly and I might have a different opinion of what makes a place good. But my main problem is that I have yet to go to a show there where the sound was even close to decent. I think the changes they made to the theater in order to "clubbify" it took away a lot of the acoustics.

Lupo's on Westminster was basically just a box, but sound guys can figure out a box.

Regardless, my point is that people saying that noone hangs out on Westminster need to understand that before the gentrification, tons of people were on Westminster, for better or worse. But it's not like it was a barren wasteland.

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I disagree entirely with this but I guess I "grew up" with the club scene in Boston and Philly and I might have a different opinion of what makes a place good. But my main problem is that I have yet to go to a show there where the sound was even close to decent. I think the changes they made to the theater in order to "clubbify" it took away a lot of the acoustics.

Lupo's on Westminster was basically just a box, but sound guys can figure out a box.

Regardless, my point is that people saying that noone hangs out on Westminster need to understand that before the gentrification, tons of people were on Westminster, for better or worse. But it's not like it was a barren wasteland.

i've only been there once and it was a good show and good sound (phil lesh and friends). i was thinking more the layout of the place is better for a music venue than the old lupos.

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I too miss Lupo's (I am a Providence native and a current Peerless resident). However, the Peerless Building could not have undergone its gut rehab had Lupo's not moved out. Simple as that.

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I too miss Lupo's (I am a Providence native and a current Peerless resident). However, the Peerless Building could not have undergone its gut rehab had Lupo's not moved out. Simple as that.

i have a feeling that even without the gut rehab, lupo's would have been "asked" to leave so that they could increase the price of the lofts.

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as someone involved in the incredible music scene (both local and national) here for the last 20 years i can safely say that there is no music scene here anymore. All the bands are skipping providence for whatever reason and going to NY, Boston, and Northampton. I think the last time i even thought about seeing a show downtown was DeathCab for Cutie, almost 2 years ago!

I remember when all the bands, new and old, stopped in Providence between Boston and NY and now none of them do and it is a huge disappointment. I'd be interested in knowing why--do they not like the strand? are they worried that Lupo's won't be around by the time their date comes up? Is it because the demographic of providence leads folks to believe no one would show? Jack Rich and Rich Lupo were powerhouses of booking on the east coast, and now, nothing. What happened?

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I think we need to create new venues and we need new music promoters/entrepreneurs a la Rich Lupo twenty years ago. I always thought the Old Police and Fire would make an awesome venue were it economically viable.

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as someone involved in the incredible music scene (both local and national) here for the last 20 years i can safely say that there is no music scene here anymore. All the bands are skipping providence for whatever reason and going to NY, Boston, and Northampton. I think the last time i even thought about seeing a show downtown was DeathCab for Cutie, almost 2 years ago!

I remember when all the bands, new and old, stopped in Providence between Boston and NY and now none of them do and it is a huge disappointment. I'd be interested in knowing why--do they not like the strand? are they worried that Lupo's won't be around by the time their date comes up? Is it because the demographic of providence leads folks to believe no one would show? Jack Rich and Rich Lupo were powerhouses of booking on the east coast, and now, nothing. What happened?

This has been a rehashed topic from all different aspects. I don't think it takes a genius to know why? Eliminate most music venues in the city( Met Cafe, Lupo's, JR's Fastlane, Safari etc..) Infuse the area with residents whom for better or worse complain @ living conditions.....and wuh lah.....the magic potion! The identity crisis from hell! What I'm interested in findng out is the liquor license situation....Why can't Lupo's get a liquor license? Have restaurants snatched them all up? Is that how that works? Lupo's is dead in most people's opinion because their identity died when they shacked up with the clubkid disco house.

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As mentioned in the retail thread, the Providence music scene right now is pretty dead. As jen mentions, all the bands used to come through Providence. The list of bands that I first saw in Providence is long and there was a time that many of the bands would even pass over Boston in favor of a Providence gig.

so there is a multi-tiered question.

First, what killed the music scene? There was a time when Lupo's, Babyhead, The Strand (before being clubbified), and the Living Room were all booking semi-big acts and the Met Cafe and other smaller places were always booked with locals. Maybe theser halcyon days weren't as great as all that but it really did seem to be the case. Anyway, now you basiclaly have Lupo's and then sometimes a decent act at other places. Hopefully AS220 will start expanding their offerings but I'm not sure.

In the past year, at least ten bands that I wanted to see came through Boston that I would bet good money would have stopped in Providence ten years ago if they were around. I have a friend in a Boston band and when I asked him if he had ever considered playing Providence and his response was "where would be play?" and I honestly couldn't give him an answer.

Second, is this really a problem? I mean, I guess there are a few of us that really liked having a vibrant music scene, but is it necessary?

Third, what could and should be done? Personally, I would love to see a late Spring (before Memorial Day) festival. Newport has jazz and folk already so I wouldn't want to compete with them. But something like Bonaroo or SXSW would be nice, even on a smaller scale.

Since this is a merged thread, I'm highlighting this as the actual first topic in this thread.

-Cotuit

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It's all about choices. As a community, the decline of the local music scene is concerning and hopefully it can be rekindled in some other form. However, with property taxes funding the greater portion of city government (with it its 600 million dollar pension liability and crumbling school infrastructure) and a lack of support from state and federal sources, the city and developers who have a vested interest in the health of the city made the choice that new Downcity lofts, apartments, and luxury condos on Westminster Street will be part of the solution to grow the tax base, and unfortunately, the atmosphere that Lupo's contributed to Downcity has been diminished as a result. That's not to say that this atmosphere can't be recreated, and I don't know if there was a way to preserve Lupo's while still developing new residences. However, we have to keep the structural budget deficits of the city and its need to substantially grow the tax base in mind as we advocate for urban issues going forward. As a result of this need, in my opinion, the city will probably choose the perceived value increased tax revenue of new residences over the intrinsic value of the local music scene (and arts in general), and we need to offer a solution which balances the two.

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I think we need to create new venues and we need new music promoters/entrepreneurs a la Rich Lupo twenty years ago. I always thought the Old Police and Fire would make an awesome venue were it economically viable.

the problem is not so much venue, as it is promoters. It takes a lotta years in the bidness to be able to have the clout to book headliners, and i'm not sure anyone has been learning at Jack Rich's and Rich Lupo's hips. Colleges used to have a lot of shows too--when I was at RIC i booked a ton of shows, (some with Lupos personnel, some with PPAC) like REM and Billy Bragg and the Bangles and Aimee Mann and 10,000 Maniacs and lots of others, but colleges don't seem to do rock shows anymore, except during spring weekend maybe. I saw rock shows at PPAC and Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and at Brown, PC and URI, as well as the clubs. But those venues don't seem to book rock shows anymore either, and generally that's (in my opinion) because there are no promoters anymore.

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I think we need to create new venues and we need new music promoters/entrepreneurs a la Rich Lupo twenty years ago.

I think Ari is absolutely correct. I've lived long enough now to see scenes of various types in the places I've lived (music, art, business, athletic, etc) have fortunes that have thrived and failed, sometimes with dizzying speed. These changes rarely have anything to do with buildings, but with people and with bigger trends.

The trend of renewal of many American cities shows that Providence needs a vibrant, diverse downtown that mixes residential, retail, and commercial interests in a package that feels safe, interesting, and perhaps even a touch upscale. I wasn't here in the "old days" when the music scene flourished, but none of those things describe the downtown core of the Providence I visited in 1992 and 1996, and certainly not the place I lived for 6 weeks in 1999.

That important downtown core is being built now and is, in my opinion, an enormous improvement over what was (and mostly wasn't) there before. We all know a vibrant music scene is part of what makes for an overall successful city, but that scene shouldn't necessarily be smack in the middle of the core (and isn't in many cities I can think of). This is where policy can come in and help create districts where such a scene can thrive without clashing with the sensibilities of local residential and commerical communities.

I think of New Haven as an example. When I was there in college, the music scene was still somewhat vibrant, in part because nothing else could survive in the boarded up downtown (that many people were willing to bulldoze) and the costs of operating there were cheap. Well, fast forward 10-15 years... Much of New Haven is being reborn and, yes, gentrified, in part because of Yale's efforts to create an urban climate around the campus that can compete with Harvard Sq, Princeton, etc... It's a better New Haven for it. Was the music scene hurt? Yes, for a while, it was displaced due to rising costs and the value of their land and space for other reasons (this still requires people to sell too, nothing here was "taken away"). The same requiem for the death of the music scene took place...

However, the demand for a music scene was there from the public, and there are people in town looking to make it happen, and a new music scene, vibrant, different from the old perhaps, has been rekindled from what I'm told in new venues all over the city. Is it in the city center as before? No, but in cool streets and neighborhoods ringing the core? Yes.

We have to be ready to do that here in Providence. We have to accept that in a better, more diverse, more globally vital city, the center of the music scene may not in the future be on Westminster, but on Allen's Ave, South Prov, or in Olneyville. As long as the public demand is there, someone, someday, will figure out a way to make money from it and fill it. Providence government has to help here and designate a club/music district already and create noise, performance, and other policies that help it happen.

I find that on a message board that is as generally forward looking and progressive as UP, there's an odd myopia about this music issue that makes people here sound like the NIMBY's of the College Hill Neighborhood Association. Substitute "Lupo's" with "Soda-fountain store from the 50's" into certain sentences, and the quotes from the two groups could be nearly the same. The only difference is the issue that people care about, not the tone.

The music hangouts that my grandparents went to (and they did!), my parents went to, and my sister and I went to have all mostly come and gone... Music scenes are amongst the most fickle and fragile scenes of any city.

Ari is right. Cities change, people age, new generations come in, and music scenes evolve. Let's allow a new scene, fueled by people no one may yet know in a building no one would guess would be used for music, to grow and thrive.

- Garris

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Second, is this really a problem? I mean, I guess there are a few of us that really liked having a vibrant music scene, but is it necessary?

SoundSession looked like a pretty good start. Why not build on that?

Urb

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Very good points Garris. Downtown wasn't the core destination spot back in the music scene heyday that it's becoming now. So by that token, the venues should probably be in areas like the West End or Valley/Olneyville. I'm feeling the West End more with the hip feel it has and strong local loyalty to places.

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in order for a city to really have meaning, there needs to be a music scene. so a music scene is important if you ask me. why did providence have a good music scene and why has it been sucking lately? while it's not great, it's still not terrible. we get a lot of bands through here every week. a few small nationally known bands do come through still, such as the breakfast (a jammy type band), max creek (another jammy grateful deady type band that's been around since the 70's), and a slew of others (that includes death cab jen... i've only been here 2.5 years and they've been to lupos at least once, but i think more than that since i've been here).

i think jerry in the retail thread hit on a good point... gentrification has killed it. the people who buy the lofts and condos downtown don't want the music scene at their doorsteps. downtown is becoming a luxury area for people with money who aren't interested in great music or anything that makes a city a city. lupo's was thrown out of their westminster st location for condos. i don't see why they couldn't fill a place in the same building, but i doubt cornish would ever want that because they know their residents would be up in arms.

i didn't get to any of the shows, but we did just recently have a music festival here, and i started a thread about it. i can't remember the name of it, but it was mostly strange underground music. ok, found the thread... terrastock. it was like a week long event with performances at AS220 and perishable. we need more things like that, more things like sound session, more things to bring music into the city.

also... i think with the dunk renovations and more hotels, we should be getting more concerts there. i don't know why there's almost none (maybe that most bands don't play those arenas anymore). but that should be something that's worked on.

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should this music discussion be moved to the new music scene thread? cotuit?

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Ari is right. Cities change, people age, new generations come in, and music scenes evolve. Let's allow a new scene, fueled by people no one may yet know in a building no one would guess would be used for music, to grow and thrive.

- Garris

i think the music scene has been trying to do that, and everywhere they go, they get bought up, kicked out...I mean, who would have thought anyone would care about Fort Thunder? Or Riverside Mills?

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garris, in the retail thread, mentioned new haven and how their music scene is slowly dying, but they still have the strong mainstay of toad's place, which is the equivalent of lupo's there, but MUCH better. they get bigger bands and more bands. they do a dance party on saturday nights, but that's it. the rest of the time is music music music.

why did places like the call close? that was a great place to see a band and have some beer.

someone else on that thread mentioned that the music venues be moved or open outside of downtown... like in the west end. i think it's a good idea to a degree, but we need music downtown still, otherwise downtown becomes the playground for the rich and uptight and the club kids. it shouldn't be that and if it becomes that, i'll never want to be down there (except for the beer at trinity and food at bravo). but olneyville is a great place to start up a new music scene. the living room seems to do a great job where it stands just off of valley.

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Disclaimer: I've never really been into any music scene, I'm totally an outsider looking in.

The Providence Monthly did an article about this late last year. They concluded in part that we're experiencing a generational shift. Most of the people here (on UP) are in their 30s or early 40s and are thinking of a late 80s to 90s scene that doesn't exist anymore. There's a whole new crop of 20-somethings out there today and as a group, they are more interested in dance music, rap, and clubbing, not live rock shows (as a group, obviously there are some who are still interested). We've also seen a huge demographic shift in Providence since the late-80s early-90s with a huge increase in the hispanic population, a group that as a group is not particularly interested in live rock shows either.

Then there are the promoters, Rich Lupo seems to be about done, and maybe his heart's not in it anymore (I don't know him so I can't say, but as an outsider, that's what it looks like). He's been fighting for years, and when he was younger the fight may have been invigorating, now I imagine its gotten old. And there seems to be no one set to step into his place.

There seems to me to be many older people bemoaning the loss of something that they really may not be all that interested in partaking in anymore (I'll single out Jen and ask, if there were a show every weekend by a band that you actually liked, would you go as often as you did when you were 20?). I'd be interested to hear the opinion of the people who are actually in their 20s today, is the music scene in Providence lacking in their opinion? I'm not saying the scene couldn't improve, but if it did, would enough people actually partake in it?

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Disclaimer: I've never really been into any music scene, I'm totally an outsider looking in.

The Providence Monthly did an article about this late last year. They concluded in part that we're experiencing a generational shift. Most of the people here (on UP) are in their 30s or early 40s and are thinking of a late 80s to 90s scene that doesn't exist anymore. There's a whole new crop of 20-somethings out there today and as a group, they are more interested in dance music, rap, and clubbing, not live rock shows (as a group, obviously there are some who are still interested). We've also seen a huge demographic shift in Providence since the late-80s early-90s with a huge increase in the hispanic population, a group that as a group is not particularly interested in live rock shows either.

Then there are the promoters, Rich Lupo seems to be about done, and maybe his heart's not in it anymore (I don't know him so I can't say, but as an outsider, that's what it looks like). He's been fighting for years, and when he was younger the fight may have been invigorating, now I imagine its gotten old. And there seems to be no one set to step into his place.

There seems to me to be many older people bemoaning the loss of something that they really may not be all that interested in partaking in anymore (I'll single out Jen and ask, if there were a show every weekend by a band that you actually liked, would you go as often as you did when you were 20?). I'd be interested to hear the opinion of the people who are actually in their 20s today, is the music scene in Providence lacking in their opinion? I'm not saying the scene couldn't improve, but if it did, would enough people actually partake in it?

i'm in my 20's and i work in a college with a lot of college aged people who are very into music. they think lupos as it is now sucks (which it does). they think the living room is a dump (which it is). but they go to shows as often as they can. i don't go to as many shows as i would like to, but a lot of that is because the bands i want to see don't come around that often or anymore. if a good band was in town every week, i'd probably go every other week. i love a good rock show. this summer, i've been to 2 major concerts at tweeter. in feb i was at a great show at lupos. there's a few shows coming that i'll probably hit up. part of the problem i'm having is that prices have exponentially increased for tickets. just 7 years ago, i went to see the biggest touring band of the time for $25 ($30 if you include service charges) for any seat in the house. the last time i saw them, tickets were $45 and that was 2 years ago (they don't exist anymore). prices for smaller bands are the same as what i used to pay for bigger bands. i used to go to toad's place and pay $7-15 for tickets (toads is similar to lupo's for those who don't know it, it's in new haven). now i'm paying $15 to sometimes $35 for shows at lupo's that barely even sell out. why are they so expensive? inflation hasn't gone up that much and the demand is about the same since they're the same type of bands (and some are basically nostalgia acts, like phil lesh and friends). but even shows by bands like death cab and the other emo/indie/neo-punk bands that kids seem to like now are costing that much. that's part of the problem as to why i don't go to as many as i'd like, but a bigger part is the bands that come through... i've never heard of half of them and don't like the other half. i also don't want to go out to a concert at 6 in some place downtown. great woods, sure, i'll do that there, but i know i'm getting a good long serious concert, and it's more of an event than a club show. shows downtown or in a club, i'd rather go out to dinner and then head down. i also don't want my night to be over at 10, which is really stupid. that's a bigger partof the problem. i've heard that some bands tried to go over their time and the strand basically turn off the power on them. that's not cool.

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There seems to me to be many older people bemoaning the loss of something that they really may not be all that interested in partaking in anymore (I'll single out Jen and ask, if there were a show every weekend by a band that you actually liked, would you go as often as you did when you were 20?). I'd be interested to hear the opinion of the people who are actually in their 20s today, is the music scene in Providence lacking in their opinion? I'm not saying the scene couldn't improve, but if it did, would enough people actually partake in it?

I would go all the time, for my part.

I just don't see why Providence should be different from other college towns of similar or smaller scale. If rock shows are for the youth, then why should a demographic shift among full-time residents within the city really mean anything?

I went to six or seven shows this year in Boston and there were plenty of college aged kids at them. I went to the FNX music fest in Boston which didn't even have big headliners this year and it was still packed. Unless there is some demographic overwhelming RISD, Brown, PC, and even URI, I don't buy the argument that the scene is just different.

Also, I'm a little upset that someone as usually thoughful as Garris would marginalize these feelings as some form of NIMBY-ism. For the record, Boston's music scene is not ushered into corners, in fact almost every good venue is located in a residential/retail neighborhood. I understand that a music scene isn't something everyone is into. But don't tell me I'm just being a nostalgic NIMBY.

Beyond promoters and venues, another part of the problem, which I have mentioned quite a few times, is that WBRU sucks now. Airwave radio as a whole may be on the slide, so I'm not just railing against BRU itself, but I do think that BRU being such a great station in the 80's and 90's contributed to bands playing here.

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Normally I would jsut edit my previous post but this is kind of a different tangent so I apologize for the reply to myself.

One thing people seem to be missing. During the Halcyon days, Providence was a destination for music junkies. Obviously these people weren't going to revitalize the city but I don't think they were hurting it either. Anyway from the time was in high school way out in Springfield, MA, people talked about going to Providence to see shows. Bands talked about how great Providence audiences were and how they loved to play here. When I was in college in Worcester and had a choice between seeing a band in Boston or Providence I would always choose Providence (and a lot of times both!). Part of my decision to move here in 1999 instead of up to Boston was because of the music scene.

Now, Providence can choose to make itself attractive in other ways and I am certainly not going to say any one way I would come up with is better than what they choose. Really. But I do think that you have a situation where Providence was a destination and now it is not. And frankly I think that there was room for these places to coexist, easily, with rehabilitation.

This isn't just about Lupo's on Westminster. Obviously I understand that the Peerless renovation is more important to the city than protecting Lupo's at all cost. I brought it up mainly because of people giving the impression that noone hangs around Westminster now but that's ok because noone was around there before Cornish saved the day either. In fact people did hang around Westminster, and if the scene were embraced it could have been the funky urban retail/restaurant/venue mix that we all pine for. Cornish and the city went in another direction. One that may be better or may be worse or may be just different.

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