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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Final curtain call: High Dive’s swan song draws crowd of Gainesville’s music lovers

Community members and musicians come together for one last show at the celebrated venue

Performers at High Dive’s final show exchange looks as they do a sound check on Sunday, May 19, 2024.
Performers at High Dive’s final show exchange looks as they do a sound check on Sunday, May 19, 2024.

Excited murmurs came from the crowd as High Dive’s final show unfolded in a symphony of nostalgia and anticipation. 

On May 19, the historical hot spot for local music, High Dive, hosted a final show before shutting its doors for good. The last show at the popular venue came just three weeks after an Instagram post from the business announced its closing. 

The event featured live music from bands and musicians including The Hails, MADWOMAN, Sooza Brass Band, Rohna, Quail Hollow, Apex, Bli & Miles and Buboy. 

Outside, the venue hosted a self-coined “yard sale” where it sold some of its iconic signage and merchandise. The outdoor patio filled up with patrons enjoying food trucks, drinking from the bar and snapping photos to remember High Dive.  

The final celebration at High Dive brought music lovers from near and far to reminisce on the glory days of the musical landmark.

“It’s the last High Dive show so I’m not going to miss it for my life,” said Gainesville?musician Nadya Nguyen. “High Dive will always be special and I don’t think anything will be able to truly replace it, but the music is still here and the people who love music are still here.” 

Among the many loyal patrons saying goodbye were guests visiting the High Dive for the first, and last, time. 

“I am sad that they are closing soon, ‘cause honestly I would come back here again next time if they were to do another show.” Kevin Mcleod, 21, said.

Many of the bands playing at the event gave tributes to the venue for its past platforming of indie and alternative bands during their performances. 

“We love you Gainesville, we love you High Dive.” a member of Florida indie-rock band Rohna shouted at the end of their portion of the show. 

For bands like The Hails, High Dive was more than just a place to perform — it was where they honed their craft and grew as musicians. 

Robbie Kingsley, the band’s lead vocalist, said their success, which includes millions of streams on Spotify, should be in part attributed to the opportunities provided by High Dive. 

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“It’s the place we were allowed to grow up at. I came in here, 2016, just a little kid. I dreamt about selling out the High Dive. To me, that’s the pinnacle of music.” Kingsley said. “This is the place that allowed us to come in and experiment with our sound.” 

These sentiments were echoed by his bandmate, the guitarist, keys player and vocalist for The Hails, Franco Solari. 

“That’s why we’re here today, it’s an homage to this place that was such a big part of our story,” Solari said. “This is where we played our first show, so to be able to play their last show is a huge honor.” 

Dylan McCue, guitarist for The Hails, said closing the High Dive could force Gainesville musicians to transform and find new performance avenues. 

“I think it’s gonna give the Gainesville local music scene a chance to really kind of prove itself, in a way,” McCue said. “This is definitely a big blow. It’ll be an interesting transitional moment in the scene that hopefully leads to a blossoming of the scene.” 

Despite the sadness surrounding the closure, there's a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the memories created at High Dive. From sold-out shows to intimate performances, the venue holds a special place in the hearts of musicians and music lovers alike.

“It’s absolutely home. I feel so comfortable on that stage. I’m totally gonna rip a piece out of the carpet on the stage tonight, take that with me, frame it. There’s nothing like it.” Kingsley said. 

Contact Sabrina Castro at Follow her on X @sabswurld

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Sabrina Castro

Sabrina Castro is a rising senior studying journalism at the University of Florida and a Summer 2024 reporter for The Avenue. In her free time you can find her scrolling TikTok or searching for hidden gems at local thrift stores.

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