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Gainesville bands honor High Dive; music venue to shut down May 19

The five-piece indie band, the Hails, announced on Wednesday it will play High Dive’s last show on May 19th.
The five-piece indie band, the Hails, announced on Wednesday it will play High Dive’s last show on May 19th.

The five-piece indie band, the Hails, announcedon Wednesday it will play High Dive’s last show on May 19th. The iconic downtown Gainesville music venue shared last week that it will be closing its doors and has 30 days to vacate the property for the new owners to develop the area.

Gainesville music lovers will know High Dive as one of many host locations for The Fest, featuring global music groups. According to Consequence, High Dive was even named one of the 100 Best American Music Venues.

Located at SW 2nd Avenue, the venue has hosted multiple versions of Gainesville’s music scenes with various names: Covered Dish in the 1990s, Common Grounds in 2005, then High Dive from 2011.

High Dive founder and owner, Pat Lavery, reminisced on his early days working the venue when it was the Covered Dish.

“I began working at the (then) Covered Dish at 210 SW 2nd Ave around 1998 as the flyer guy, stapling show flyers to bulletin boards on the University of FL campus and taping them to telephone poles up and down University and 13th in between classes,” Lavery said on social media. “This is where I got my masters in underground rock music, absorbing the culture and knowledge about little-known bands on a nightly basis.”

Lavery said then-owner Bill Bryson closed the venue in 2000, and owners Nigel Hamm and Jason Rockhill re-opened it as Common Grounds in 2005.

“In 2011, when Common Grounds’s owners Nigel Hamm and Jason Rockhill decided that the venue had run its course, they “passed the torch” to me as the next proprietor of the building,” Lavery said.

In the social media post, Lavery said his goal is to continue the spirit of High Dive in an already existing or similar new venue, or completely re-envision it.

The Hails, a five-piece Indie band formed at the University of Florida, performed its first show at High Dive in 2015.

“Every musician has a place where they feel they truly cut their teeth, and High Dive was ours,” The Hails said. “We take pride in being a band that started in Gainesville and were able to climb the ladder of playing local indie showcases and food truck rallies to eventually selling out shows of our own.”

Hail’s frontman Robbie Kingsley added, “As a performer, I learned invaluable lessons from the people who worked at High Dive and from those who came to our shows. Having spent nearly a decade in Gainesville, I'm sad to see it go. I always planned to return for more shows and good times. High Dive will be dearly missed, but its impact will resonate with us forever.”

Other Gainesville-born music groups, such as Against Me!, Less Than Jake, and Flipturn, also got their start in High Dive.

Gainesville punk icon and lead singer of Against Me!, Laura Jane Grace, said she moved to the city in the late 1990s and remembers it fondly when it was the Covered Dish.

“It's just always been one of those mythological spaces, and it just like feels like a kick in the gut when you're already on the ground like gasping for air,” Grace said. “ I still feel like I'm recovering from Leonardo's closing and the building being gone. Selfishly I wish I could come back one last time, you know and I can’t because i'm on tour for the rest of the month and it seems like it's just so abrupt.”

Tampa-based band Quail Hollow performed on the night before High Dive’s sudden announcement and were not notified it would be their last time playing at the venue.

“We had an incredible show with Happy Landings and Prisciallia that we love to play with but we'd wish we had known it was the last show for us to be a little more thankful for the Gainesville people there, and thankful to Pat, and thankful to High Dive.”

Butler said he’s planning to attend the final show to appreciate what the venue meant to Gainesville and its music scene.

The Hails and High Dive said other live acts will be announced. The Hails said “the performance is expected to be a massive friends and family affair, and a proper chance for the community to say a heartfelt goodbye to the landmark location.”

Elliot is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing