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Tempe DIY Music Venue Parliament Closes

Small Leaks Sink Ships performs at Parliament in March.
Small Leaks Sink Ships performs at Parliament in March.
Ben Garcia

If you're a fan of local DIY label Rubber Brother Records, any of its associated bands, or Tempe's fringe music scene, you're might hate the bad news we're about to tell you: Parliament is closed. No joke.

Earlier today, its staff pulled the plug on the all-ages music and arts venue, which was housed in a Tempe industrial park and also functioned as the headquarters of the indie record label.

Robbie Pfeffer, who co-founded both Rubber Brother and Parliament along with Gage Olsen and other musicians and artists, broke the news online within the past couple of hours. In a lengthy and heartfelt message on his Facebook page, Pfeffer stated that the closure came about after complaints from their neighbors and a discussion with their landlord.

However, the Rubber Brother co-founder (who also performs as the frontman in Playboy Manbaby) stresses that it was an amicable situation.

"Our landlord has suggested that it would be best if we parted ways," he states. "It was all done in a very diplomatic manner and we're glad to be allowed to part ways on our own terms."

We chatted online briefly with Pfeffer this afternoon and the musician/artist told us that the Parliament staff decided to close the off-the-radar venue this past Friday after getting a phone call from their landlord "saying we could no longer have loud music at the space."

Pfeffer also emphasized that Parlimanet's closure in no way means the end of Rubber Brother Records. He says that while there are no plans to open a new venue elsewhere (at least not for the foreseeable future), the label will still put on concerts.

"We're going to definitely keep throwing shows and releasing tapes and all that," he says.

In the meantime, they're relocating all the activity involved with running and managing the label to his pad.

"Which is really no problem because we've been doing most of our label-related work out of a spare bedroom in my place anyway," Pfeffer says.

Parliament, however, was more than just a place for the cassette-based label to store its supplies or showcase any of the oddball punks, fierce garage rockers, surf rock misfits, or weirdo indie pop groups from its ever-growing roster. Since the volunteer-run space opened last year, it was not just home to the Rubber Brother crowd but also an all-ages and all-inclusive gathering spot that was all heart, no frills, and a major nexus for outsider artists, creative goofballs, or under-21 musicians looking for an outlet.

Simply put, it was unlike most other music venues or art spaces in Tempe that had an aura of lo-fi and DIY cool, as well as a diehard core of people who ran the place and a loyal community following.

In his Facebook post, Pfeffer says he was amazed at Parliament's success over the past year and how it was embraced by its denizens.

"Parliament was owned by the community it was created to serve and the community is the reason it was able to survive and thrive. It was built and maintained by countless people who selflessly donated their time and energy to create something incredible," Pfeffer stated. "We lasted far longer than anyone in . . . their right mind could have possibly expected and proved that creating a safe, all-ages, all-inclusive community space is not only possible, but can be sustainable, even in a city like Tempe."

Ultimately, Pfeffer isn't bummed by the end of Parliament and doesn't want its closure to be seen "as a sad moment." He believes that the venue "was and will always be, just a box" and that others will carry on its particular spirit and scene.

"Please keep in mind, this is not the end," Pfeffer stated. "This is only the closing of a chapter and I could not possibly be more excited to see what comes next."

The full text of Pfeffer's Facebook post follows on the next page.

 

There's no easy way to say this, so I'll get straight to the point. Parliament is officially closed. We have received some complaints from neighbors and our landlord has suggested that it would be best if we parted ways. It was all done in a very diplomatic manner and we're glad to be allowed to part ways on our own terms.

This may seem like a negative thing, but I can say honestly that it is not. Parliament meant the world the to me and was a was a center point to what has turned out to be the best year of my life so far. It provided an experience and a community that I have dreamed about for years. It facilitated a wide variety of experiences and events that would have never been possible if I decided to get an office job right out of college.

But just because my name was on the lease does not make me the single owner of Parliament, and that's what made this space and the experiences it facilitated so important. Parliament was owned by the community it was created to serve and the community is the reason it was able to survive and thrive. It was built and maintained by countless people who selflessly donated their time and energy to create something incredible.

We lasted far longer than anyone in in their right mind could have possibly expected and proved that creating a safe, all-ages, all-inclusive community space is not only possible, but can be sustainable, even in a city like Tempe. So, for anyone who valued Parliament. please don't view this as a sad moment, but be proud of the fact that you were part of something that made people's lives better and more enjoyable. Keep in mind that you create the city that you live in.

In closing, I have to say that Parliament is, was and will always be, just a box. The value of the place was not the box, but what we put inside of it. We created something beautiful, we created something special and I've never been more proud in my whole life. Also, I want to be crystal clear on this matter. This does not mark the end of our community. Rubber Brother Records, The Paper Knife, The Something Show, Ascetic House, Related Record, TUF and all of the other groups, organizations and most importantly people who made this box into something worth caring about, will continue to make this city worth living in.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and favorite memories at Parliament. We will need a lot of help cleaning out the space and returning it to it's original form, so if you're willing to help that would be great.

Please keep in mind, this is not the end. This is only the closing of a chapter and I could not possibly be more excited to see what comes next.

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