In a recent online profile via San Francisco public TV, Anthony Bedard, long time booker for the show venue the Hemlock Tavern, was asked about the viability of the location given the city's now widely known if not notorious transformation into a symbol of income division. Acknowledging other citywide transformations with the paraphrased comment "once those places are gone, they're rarely replaced," he noted they had a lease through 2021, then added "At that point, will the owners decide not to renew our lease? That could happen."

Comparing the potentially uncertain fate of the Hemlock, a small if thriving and well-loved club, to the grimmer and more immediate fate of the Arches in Glasgow might seem untoward. Certainly the anger and shock over the latter's license revocation and its overall organization going into administration, driven as it was not by increased rents but -- supposedly -- by concerns over drug use is its own nexus of issues, and the tangled history of official Glasgow towards its venues and its nightlife has run for decades. Kieran Hurley's blast against the Arches' license revocation, one of many to be found, summed it up as "a ridiculous and short-sighted decision on the part of the council, that makes vulnerable people unsafe, potentially destroys jobs, and does catastrophic damage to the cultural life of Glasgow, Scotland and the rest of the UK." The Scotsman's Joyce McMillan put the overall winding up simply on Twitter as "cultural vandalism."

If there's a common thread to be found between Bedard's concern for the future and the much more blunt reality in Glasgow, though, then it does lie in the sense of official and civic toleration of spaces that aren't seen to be as 'productive', in a broad sense, than others might be. Where art can't be readily as quantified as something else, the old dilemma again raises its head. London's own rolling wave of cleaned out spaces, as well as New York's, bears a more direct connection to the Hemlock's own potential fate, but in all cases the sense remains the same that something which can be a space for people to gather, enjoy themselves, experience something, maybe get a little hazy around the corners finds itself under threat. 'Twas ever thus, some may say, but right now it doesn't feel like history needs to be applied or referenced to when it comes to thinking something's gone awry.

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"Cut them off, deny people access, and what is achieved? Tie everything down, scrub everything up, and so much withers on the vine as we shelter in place."

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Gentrification is the easy catch-all explanation for a lot of this, though part of the slow roiling debate over what gentrification is supposed to be and what it is, something that has proven to be a 21st century nexus of debate worldwide, lies in the question of presumed permanence when nothing was ever guaranteed. Things do change -- places that become celebrated had to start somewhere, at some time, and quite often did so because something else couldn't be there any more. If a venue was public or supported by the public, that would mean it would have to be supported continuously by that public. If private, by default, the landlord will have the final say, and a landlord's interest is not per se charitable. Further, far from being a simple matter of 'rich people warping the market,' one has to add in everything from rampant NIMBYism to changing perceptions of what public places are at heart. The results are changes playing out by the second. (Quite literally -- I now live in San Francisco, and as I was writing this piece, my girlfriend came in from an errand to report that she'd just run into friends who work at local restaurants who are now starting to see the effect of increased rents kick in even further.)

It could be argued that music in the recorded era has had its own warping effect on the stage. Any number of musicians are content, for their own reasons, to eschew live performance as such, or make comparatively few efforts in that arena, for the ease of the studio, the laptop, the four track tape recorder, online collaboration. The boorishness one sometimes encounters in a live venue from out of nowhere can be enough to put people off in turn, whether it be the ever increasing complaints about people chattering during quiet shows or quieter moments in them or even less savory, more violent actions, driven by drink, bigotry or worse. Meanwhile, while I know plenty of people who are out there near constantly seeing one show or another well older than me, I can name plenty of others, my age or even younger, who find things like interminably late shows to be less of a thrilling prospect over time.

But these are complaints of an individual nature, or that reflect the problems of a wider society rather than acting as intrinsic features. The recorded era of music is but a small, small part of human time on the planet, where the live gathering, the singalong, the performance, the group dance, the celebration is more deeply rooted. Some age out, but others come in, and for them the thrills are new. Each day people rewrite rules of what is expected of them, individually, precisely by taking it to the stage, to the mixing booth to transform recorded music into something new and unique again, wherever they go, and each day others see something hear something that turns their world around.

Canards and cliches, some might say, but they'd be wrong there, I'd like to think obviously so. It happens, it does happen and continues to happen. The all ages venues are sought out, the underground clubs form, and even 'normal' nights out at a mainstream venue can always contain that potential for connection and revelation. Cut them off, deny people access, and what is achieved? Tie everything down, scrub everything up, and so much withers on the vine as we shelter in place. That ties the Hemlock, the Arches and more together, and that fate is the one to resist, constantly.

Ned Raggett writes for the likes of The Quietus, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Red Bull Music Academy. You can find him over on Twitter.