The End of Wits End is Tonight
About a half hour from St. John’s in a former home heating showroom on the side of the Southern Shore Highway in Witless Bay, NL, there has been a D.I.Y all ages venue and creative space hosting underground punk shows and skate jams for just short of a year. This space is Wits End, and after one last all ages punk show tonight, its closing its doors permanently.
The upstairs of Wits End is a large wood paneled room where the bands play. It went from a home heating showroom to a punk showroom. Down two flights of stairs is the high-ceiling boiler room which is decked out with some hand built concrete miniramps for skating. The double decker jams of bands and boards made Wits End the first of its kind in Newfoundland, and for a short burst of time the building filled a massive void as host to an all ages punk community that had been too long without a permanent home.
The punk scene in St. John’s has always flourished, but the dominance of convenient bar gigging and lack of affordable youth-friendly spaces cornered the all ages scene into occasional house shows which could never be widely advertised to reach young folks outside of the community. Even though the distance of the venue, especially in unpredictable winter weather conditions, didn’t always make Wits End the most accessible location, it did provide an open invitation to a new crowd of teens who have since become very much involved in the scene.
Though the venue was an absolute dream come true for roughly 11 months, the sliding insecurity of the current Newfoundland economy has left any leased real estate, especially commercial property, on unpredictable and shaky grounds. Many property owners are desperately jumping to sell before they lose their shirts in a potential market downturn, and unfortunately the leased space that became Wits End is one of the many places falling victim to the pattern.
The final all ages basher takes place in a couple hours (6:30PM on September 4th, 2016), so you’ve got ample time to round up a few buds, grab your boards, and maybe some earplugs if that is you’re kinda thing, and hit the road. Like any great underground venue, Witless Bay has no official address. Take the Southern Shore Highway from St. John’s and look for the sketchy hand-painted billboard on the side of the road (the same sign that caused a slightly unsettled stir in the neighbourhood not long after its initial roadside appearance) just after you enter Witless Bay.
Headlining the festivities tonight are the Montréal street punk visitors Torment along with Lions Share, Dog Food, Wiener Pizza (the Wits End debut of some of the teenage punkers the venue helped introduce to the community), and the 11 year punk vets Cider Squadron 666.