There’s been a surge of remembrance for a long departed bastion of Lincoln’s nightlife recently.
It’s the Falcon Inn’s ten-year anniversary shortly, and the place has managed to generate a wave of nostalgia for a one-off ‘reunion’ event that’s driven 600 people into a Facebook group panting for a night out in the name of the old place.
The Falcon (now hosting trade under the moniker Trebles for Singles) was the last example of the popular ‘alternative (in the musical sense of the word)’ pub in Lincoln. When I first started drinking in the town at eighteen, it was a slightly less than out and out metal place in which alternative noobies like me wouldn’t get their faces kicked off if they got too pissed or stared at a girl for too long. It was also a watering hole bang in the town centre for those who detested what have historically been very limited ‘other options’.
It was basically the only place like this left by the time I was twenty, Lincoln having lost the likes of The Falstaff, the Cornhill Vaults and fallen out of love with the Jolly Brewer in the intervening few years (though the Brewer eventually returned, and has been doing good for music here for years again now). So passed the 1990’s in our small town I think, not that I really got involved with that decade until it was long passed, and then only in a musical sense.
I went to work for a while when I turned 18, and The Falcon and a club called Barracuda’s became my very own weekend warrior hangout, leading to the many gigs I ran for what I considered the Lincoln music scene at the Falcon a few years later, as I’ve explained elsewhere.
There wasn’t any particular dominant strain to it’s punters, just a mishmash of metallers, students, indie kids, drug people, bikers and boozers. All were welcome, and for a while in the early 2000’s this made it THE alternative hangout when the only options were excruciatingly dull old man’s pubs and places, which were the heralds of the further homogenisation of the high street at night through the relentless catering to chavs-with-jobs.
The place was propped up by and helped to prop up the local music scene for the last few years of it’s life, a fact for which I and many others are particularly grateful. Regular gigs on the pub-floor allowed a scene worth of musicians to do our thing on a stage we wouldn’t otherwise have had.
It failed in the end of course, as all good things must, and despite the best efforts of a lot of people. I think it’d really been holed below the waterline long before I ever got involved with it in a musical sense, but I never managed to confirm that. All I do know is it ran out of money. We made overtures to the company that own it to take the place over as the managers we’d known were bowing out, just so we could keep some semblance of sanity about the place. They had no interest in that of course, and the upshot for many people who loved the place is there’s never really been any replacement.
That’s the background to the relentless nostalgia I’m seeing on my Facebook feed via The Falcon Reunion Drinks event. It even rekindled my slumbering muso-spiritual side for a minute I have to admit, and I wondered if the popularity of some of the music the scene created wasn’t borne to some extent out of the tremendous goodwill that existed, and still exists online, for what was really just a slightly unusual high street boozer…
…that kind of thinking, and the nostalgic good vibrations that go with it don’t last too long for me. Here at Needle In The Groove I’ve been trying to look beyond that kind of thing for the real reasons this city doesn’t seem to be able to sustain a coherent number of bands and venues. In this case specifically, why a popular venue in one cycle of Lincoln’s band and music scene ultimately didn’t make the nut in the long-term?
I suspect the answer is nothing more than ‘the times are a changin’. The alternative loves the underdog (to some extent it defines the underdog, culturally) and The Falcon was always holding it’s ground against the incoming high street of the noughties, populated as it was by the remnants of one or two scene’s which were also holding their ground against the increasingly sweeping changes ‘out there’. It was the end of the last oasis aspect which really seemed to sting many people when The Falcon become the particularly trendy Trebles for Singles.
The place was full of really nice people too, mostly, and that’s a key factor for it’s popularity. It distilled the essence of nice and geeky, but it didn’t go for the big spender, high turnover thing. Even the genuinely cool places in today’s town centre are inevitably swamped by geezers and shirts by 8pm Thursday through Sunday, and quickly subsume their individual character (read: jukeboxes) to the beats and wob-wob bass of the current gestalt.
Sure, they’ll run occasional, unusual events to try and keep their individual stamp on a venue, but once you bend to the whims of the high street in this town, your venue rapidly becomes another number in the eyes of anybody a bit more discerning, and that includes a whole subset of quiet non-conformists sadly.
The fact is that those with enough money to keep a place afloat in this town aren’t very imaginative in terms of taste, it’s an ugly, explosive release from the week of work that they need…There’s no room for sensitivity, for art, for weirdness, or for anything else that’s even vaguely indicative of the ‘alternative’ on a night out now, unless you’re prepared to lose money on it. We can’t blame what’s left of our pubs for not doing that too often, sadly.
This Falcon revival also highlights something strange about the generation of drinkers who sailed in her though…
To criticise for a moment, I think the continued interest in the old place is a great example of the gazing into the past people tend to fall into as their youth departs. It’s probably pretty heretical to say it at the moment, but there have actually been some really good attempts at resurrecting the spirit of that particular pub and time (usually with a twist or two) in the intervening ten years, which have ultimately failed through lack of support, or which have gone on to become cliquest and formulaic.
I’m not saying they have a choice right now, and there are always a lot of factors to undermine any sweeping statement, but it’s funny that I’ve seen several ventures collapse for want of the aging alternative crowd actually turning their longing for a new haunt into some money behind the bar in what could have been a new Falcon. I include myself in this failing.
I guess the ‘attitude’ was never quite right, or something. The clientele, the music and the gigs basically were though, in a couple of cases I’ve spotted over the years. From the perspective of actually running a wannabe-Falcon, I have to suppose the bottom line is that you just can’t be that relaxed any more. The system is tighter, and competition is tougher, and it seems the pub landscape just won’t LET you run a Falcon in Lincoln.
The backwards gaze is to be expected I guess. Even in the early 2000’s, the Falcon was retro…You only had to look at the jukebox to see that. If I were to put my cynical hat on, it’s ironic that I’m talking about a get-together for a pub ten years after it closed, when the place was firmly fixed in the past when it was open. They do say a lot of creative types of my generation never got over the 90’s you know. It is (mostly) the last pre-internet decade after all, and that was a big change.
The overriding attitude is that The Falcon was something beyond a brand to be used and exploited…Indeed, if it had been merely a brand, it would probably still be around. I personally hope that whatever this Falcon Night brings about doesn’t give anybody the idea of anything similar regularly (not that I think it would).
I’ll go out to celebrate what the pub gave to the city and her good people, the good times I had and the people I knew, and if there’s going to be an eye to the future from the people involved…well…
Learn from the similar experiences since. The high street may seem like it doesn’t want us any more, but an enclave somewhere off the beaten track just might make it if you can find one, and get these aging, working people who’ve forgotten what a weekend is out of their suits and relaxed enough to come back twice.
For every look backward there should be one to the future though, as it’s the only way to embrace the cool younger people who exist in limbo here just as much as the older. The nightlife of this city will only ever reflect those who actively participate in it. Hopefully people will realise the city still needs them.